A-Z real estate glossary terms to know before buying off-the-plan

A-Z real estate glossary terms to know before buying off-the-plan
A-Z real estate glossary terms to know before buying off-the-plan

Buying a new home is always an exciting process, especially for first home buyers. As with any industry, real estate professionals will often reference terminology that you may not be familiar with unless you have bought property in the past. To help you buy off-the-plan with confidence, we’ve compiled a list of 46 real estate glossary terms that will be helpful when navigating the off-the-plan purchasing process. 

Auction: At an auction, the auctioneer kicks the bidding off with a reasonable starting price, which is followed by counter-offers among bidders, creating a highly competitive environment. If the property does not meet the reserve, the property will be likely to go to a Tender, but in Australia auction clearances are high, meaning many homes will sell on auction day.

Adjustments: Adjustment is a way of calculating who pays what in regards to the outgoing costs of the property during the sale period.

Ballots: Many off-the-plan properties in high-demand (such as the likes of Nightingale Housing) are opting for a ballot system, whereby interested buyers will put down their name for the opportunity to purchase an apartment at the fixed sale price.

Capital Value: Capital Value = recommended land value + property value (which also takes into account the valuation of other properties in the area). A specialist property valuer provides this information as a guide for prospective home buyers.

Caveat: A legal ownership of a property by a third party.

Chattels: Fixtures and fittings within a home. It’s essential to identify chattel inclusions within the property before signing contracts.

Contingency Clause: A legal document which provides you with a grace period to finalise your decision to purchase your property.

Contract: A Contract of Sale is the agreement made between the buyer and the seller which details terms and conditions, price, caveats, completion dates etc.

Conditional sale: Is a restriction on the purchase made by the buyer. The property will not change ownership until the seller has actioned the caveat.

Conveyancer: A conveyancer is a lawyer who draws up the legal documents, including the offer and contract of sale.

Cooling Off Period: The period following the signing of contracts where the buyer may be able to forfeit the sale.

Covenant: A covenant is a set of rules and restriction around what changes to a site or property are permitted.

Deposit: A percentage of the property value, paid upfront to secure the sale. This amount often ranges from 5% upwards.  

Due Diligence: Is the research required to be undertaken before placing an Offer on any property. Due diligence can help you to identify whether construction of a property is of a high standard and a great way to figure out how much you believe the home is worth.

Easement: Shared paths, driveways, communal spaces, which others have access to for servicing and maintenance.

Final Inspection: Before the property changes hands, one last property inspection will help to ensure it meets all standards outlined in the contract agreement.

Fixed-Rate: is where the interest rate remains stable for a specified period.

Freehold: The buyer will own the land and property until they decide to on-sell.

Gazumping: When the vendor has already agreed to a sale (and has not yet signed contracts) but then goes ahead and accepts a higher offer from another buyer.

Heritage Overlay: Buildings which fall under a state’s heritage overlay require sensitive development, and often require retaining some or all of the building’s structure/façade.

Home Loan Pre-Approval: Is the ability for a buyer to secure finance before placing an Offer on a property.

Interest-Only Loan: Interest-only loans will often reduce the amount you pay weekly by not contributing towards the Principal.

Lender: Provider of the capital to secure the property (such as a bank).

off-the-plan: Buying an unbuilt property based off of viewing the plans.

Owner’s Corporation: The Owner's Corporation is a committee made up of residents within an apartment building. Homeowners attend meetings to discuss financial decisions regarding collective maintenance projects, events, renovations and more.

Mortgage: Sum of money loaned to cover the cost of the property, which is paid off over years of property ownership.

Negative Gearing: The use of rental income to invest in an additional property, when the rental return is less than the total amount of annual interest paid on the secondary property.

Permit: A permit is granted for a developer to commence construction on a project.

Personal Letter: A note provided to the vendor, often stating why the buyer would like to purchase their home.

Principal + Interest Loan: This type of loan will mean you are paying both the principal (the amount you borrowed to purchase the property) and interest at the same time.

Principal Place of Residence Statutory Declaration (PPR): This document identifies that the buyer is going to live in the home they are purchasing. PPR documentation is often required for Stamp Duty Concessions or First Home Buyer Grants.

Private Treaty: (Also known as Sale by Negotiation) This type of sale is where the vendor identifies the price they want for their property, which can start a bartering process among interested buyers and the vendor. There is no set sale date, so this open can mean a longer sale process.

Reserve Price: During an auction, when a bid meets the reserve price, the property will be guaranteed to sell.

Residue: Difference between purchase price and deposit.

Settlement: This marks the day of sale finalisation and homeownership is granted to the buyer.

Stamp Duty: Tax associated with buying property in Australia. For a new property that will be the buyer's primary residence, they may be eligible for an off-the-plan stamp duty concession. Stamp Duty concession rules vary state to state.

Strata: (Also known as Body Corporate) An external company responsible for general maintenance of communal areas within an apartment building.

Strata Fees: (Also known as Body Corporate Fees) Strata fees are paid quarterly or annually, to cover general maintenance costs within your apartment building.

Sunset Clause: The ‘expiry date’ of an off-the-plan agreement. This gives both the buyer and the developer an opportunity to break the contract if construction is not completed on time.

Tender: Often referred to as a 'silent auction.’ A Tender invites buyers to place an Offer without knowing what price the vendor is willing to sell for.

Title Deed: (Also known as the Certificate of Title) A title deed outlines the information about the property and its owner(s).

Townhouse: A townhouse is a dual storey home, attached to other properties in a development block.

Unconditional Sale: An unconditional sale is where the buyer makes an Offer on a home without needing approval on finance, or any remedial work is done on the property prior to purchase.

Variable Rate: Your repayment rate fluctuates at the same time your interest rate does.

Vendor: Seller of the property.

Zoning: Outlines the use of land and the buildings situated within the ‘zoned area’.

Want to learn more about buying off-the-plan? Find out how buying off-the-plan works, what to ask the sales agent or 20 things to look out for when buying your first home. 

Lead image: L-R Marina Tower and Banksia, Credit: Nicholas Failla

Olivia Round

Olivia Round

Olivia Round is the Features Editor of urban.com.au. Olivia specialises in news reporting, in-depth editorial content and video + podcast interviews with industry experts.

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