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    HOW TO BUY AN OFF-PLAN PROPERTY

    The vast majority of new villas and apartments are sold off plan, meaning that they’re sold before they’re even built. There are several advantages to this for the buyer, but you shouldn’t rush in without first having checked some essential details. Below, we’ve put together some information to help you buy smart, from reserving through to delivery of your off-plan property.

    Buying off-plan… buy your dream property!

    Being the first person to set foot in a building and decide on all the finishes is a truly privileged experience. To help the buyer to select their lot, the property management agency will provide them with various documents: presentation of the project, price list, plans, cross-sections and finally, a description of the construction. The latter should detail the budget for each item (kitchen, bathroom, electricity, floor coverings, etc.), and samples can be shown to highlight the intended quality. Using all this information, the buyer will then make their choices. If this means exceeding the allocated budgets (which are included in the sale price) the buyer will have to bear these additional costs.

    According to tastes and needs

    The future owner has the chance to personalise their living space: types of kitchen and showers, parquet floors, wall colours, etc. They can even get involved in the interior design by modifying the initial plan (adding or removing partitions) but trying to do this just using simple plans might seem difficult. This is why computer-generated images can be used to illustrate exterior views, shared areas and interior spaces. Virtual tours help you to imagine yourself into a furnished space. Measuring the rooms in your current home can give you a useful reference, and an on-site visit at different times of the day can also provide an idea of the amount of daylight in the rooms. It’s also important to know about your future surroundings, such as proximity to schools, shops and services, access by public transport, road access, footpaths, etc. If the property is part of a building in commonhold (Propriété par étage), ask about regulations. Finally, check the general atmosphere of the neighbourhood – certain details (noise in particular) can only be understood by going there.

    Financing your project

    There are two ways to buy an off-plan property:

    #1 The first, called a forward purchase, involves paying a deposit varying between 10% and 20% of the total price. The balance is then paid when the property is handed over, and this is usually paid through a mortgage obtained beforehand.

    #2 The second option is commonly used for properties in commonhold (PPE) and this involves purchasing a share of the land. The apartment will represent a certain share of the total construction, expressed in thousandths of the basic plot. Alongside this, a contract is signed between the buyer and the general contractor, and the buyer becomes the owner of their share in thousandths of the land. They will need to take out their own construction loan and therefore pay interest, which is an additional cost compared to a forward purchase. On the other hand, it benefits from a reduced rate on stamp duty (the tax paid by the buyer on any property transaction) since it is calculated based on the value of the land and not the whole of the project. Once the property is built, the construction loan will be consolidated, transforming it into a traditional mortgage.

    To avoid surprises with serious consequences

    Before making an off-plan purchase, take the time to check the developer’s reputation, experience and solvency. The reliability of the companies involves in the construction is also important, especially when acquiring a share of land coupled with a construction contract. Additionally, it’s a good idea to look carefully at the various clauses and possible exclusions (soil pollution, etc.) mentioned in the contract and to obtain guarantees. Finally, make sure that deadlines and commitments are specified precisely so that you can end your agreement at the right time and smoothly take possession of your new accommodation!

    The 4 secrets to a successful purchase

    #1 Support
    Look for the support of a professional to guide you on all the technical terms involved in a property development project.

    #2 Check for yourself
    Go to the construction site to find out about your future surroundings.

    #3 Finance
    Take the time to speak with several financial entities before getting started. Make the right choice!

    #4 The developer…
    Remember to find out about the developer before you commit to anything!

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