What you need to know about buying house and land packages
Buying a house and land package will be one of the biggest life decisions you make. We’re here to help you sail through the process from start to finish. This article explains what a house and land package is, how it works, and why it’s such a great way to buy your first or next home.
What is a house and land package?
A house and land package combines the purchase of a block of land and the construction of a home into one process, but with two contracts.
The land and the house are generally bought from two different companies which is why there are two contracts. Land is purchased from the property developer, while the house is bought from the builder.
House and land packages are popular because buyers can know the combined price of their home and land from the outset.
How do house and land packages work?
If your dream is to buy a new home that you can design and build from scratch, a house and land package may be for you.
Most new home sites are made available by property developers who buy land as it becomes available. The developer manages implementation of infrastructure (roads, utilities, water and sewage), and either:
- build homes and sell them as a complete house and land deal, known as turnkey, or
- through approved third-party builders, offer a number of standard or customisable home designs, so you can choose a specific block of land and the features you’d like in your new home.
One potential benefit of buying your new home this way is that you can tailor the property to suit your needs.
Another benefit is that environmentally friendly materials and features can often be part of the package, as sustainability has become a key benchmark in the construction industry.
You might also consider buying off the plan. Buying a house or unit before the building works have been completed is known as buying off-the-plan.
In some cases, construction may not have started while in others it may only be partially built. You may be able to see the design of the building or even a complete display home.
What are the steps to buying a block of land?
Firstly, you need to get pre-approval for your home loan so you can search for your new block or home with confidence about your budget. Pre-approval is an indication (not a guarantee) from the bank as to how much you can borrow.
After pre-approval, it’s a good idea to find and reserve the land you are purchasing while you select your builder and house. This will ensure that you know what you’re working with and the land doesn’t get sold before you have finalised your floorplans.
Once you’ve chosen your house and land package, you’ll sign the contract of sale. This is a written agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the sale, including the price you are offering and the settlement period. It will be either a conditional offer (containing specific conditions on which the sale relies) or an unconditional offer (when the purchaser has funds immediately available). The contract of sale is held in a trust account and cannot be accessed by the developer until settlement.
Next, you’ll need to pay the deposit. This is held in a trust account and also cannot be accessed by the developer until settlement.
You’ll need to choose a mortgage broker or solicitor to handle the paperwork involved with your purchase. At this point, you will need to clarify any special terms and conditions of the sale. Your lender or mortgage broker will help you with all your mortgage documents.
After the exchange of contract, you will be asked to sign a transfer of land document. The document is then registered with the Land Titles Office / Register of Titles (by the owner or developer) so the property can be transferred into your name.
When the purchase is officially registered, final settlement takes place, your mortgage becomes active and the property is yours.
Benefits of a house and land package
House and land packages offer so many convenient and affordable features. Building a new home means you can create a place that ticks all your boxes. You can work with your builder to modify a floorplan and personalise your inclusions.
House and land packages tend to be cheaper than buying an established home, therefore the potential for capital growth is generally higher. On top of this, you will also be locking in today’s prices which means you can enjoy further capital growth before you are required to pay the balance at settlement down the track. Some builders will also lock in their prices too. All of this will likely mean that you will have more money left over to customise or add upgrades to your home to suit personal requirements.
Given that there are two contracts (one for the land and one for the build) you will also be able to take advantage of stamp duty savings as you will only be required to pay this tax on the land contract as opposed to the whole price – which is the case if there was only one contract.
Moreover, you can also apply to the SRO for a land tax refund when you finish building.
Whether you are an owner-occupier or an investor, it is a great feeling knowing that the home has just been built, so it is not going to require a major amount of work anytime soon. New house and land packages are great because they require very little upkeep for a long time; and are usually covered by a warranty.
If you need a time-efficient option to build a new home, then choosing a house and land package could work for you. All the hard work is done, and you won’t have to deal with the unknown of site costs and coordinating different parties. A house and land package, although technically two contracts, is all done through one party for ease. However, keep in mind that you may be best served by a fixed price package because some builders don’t include site costs, or have variable site costs in their package.
The turnkey home
‘Turnkey’ house and land packages are ready to move into with little or no work left – lights will be fitted, walls painted, landscaping done etc. When building with a retail builder you may still find that there’s an amount of work that needs to be done before you are able to move in after completion. A turnkey home will allow you to save time and money on extra costs.
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