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March 31, 2023

Off-plan or existing home: how does it work?

  Compiled by myLIFE team myHOME October 23, 2017 6702

Buying a property off-plan or an existing home are two different things. Find out about the sales process in each case.

Buying a home off-plan

Buying a home off-plan involves several steps.

  • In some cases the seller will want to sign a reservation contract. This may be part of the policy of the developer. If so, make sure the contract explicitly gives you the option of pulling out.
  • Once the required authorisations have been obtained, you will sign the notarial deed of sale based on the future state of completion. In concrete terms, this means you pay for the land and then the construction work as it progresses.
  • The seller provides you with a guarantee of completion attached to the notarial deed of sale. Under the deed, a bank undertakes to pay all amounts needed to complete the project if the seller fails to meet his obligations. This is usually the seller’s bank.
  • In the case of an apartment, the condominium rules delineate communal areas and are attached to the deed. Read these rules carefully to avoid any unpleasant surprises in the future.
  • An inspection checklist is completed when the keys are handed over. This is the time to take an inventory of fixtures and to note any existing flaws. You should inspect the property carefully with the help of an expert. Afterwards, it will be too late.
  • Signed by each party, the building completion report is then sent to the bank which issued the completion guarantee so that it can be cancelled.

Buying an existing home

Whether buying directly from the seller or through a real estate agent, the buying process for an existing property is usually as follows:

  • You have the property valued and, where necessary, obtain a quote for future work to be carried out. Ask a surveyor or architect to help you.
  • You may ask the seller for an option. The owner thereby promises to sell the property to you alone, at an agreed price and within a specific period of time.
  • Once you have settled on a property, you sign a provisional agreement with the seller. Have the agreement drafted by a professional. Indeed, this document includes different clauses (description of the property sold, price, terms of sale, etc.) which require a degree of expertise. If you need to take out a mortgage, add a clause making the sale conditional on its procurement.
  • The notarial deed of sale enters your ownership rights into the Land Registry. Read the deed of sale very carefully. A supposedly standard deed may hide clauses that give the seller an advantage over the buyer. Don’t forget that you are always entitled to be assisted by your own notary.

Besides a private sale, a property can also be purchased in a public sale. This type of sale is subject to certain peculiarities which you should find out about beforehand.

While the advice and information provided here are a useful aid, they do not cover every aspect of buying a property. To ensure you consider every factor of your personal situation, you are advised to seek advice from experts such as your banker, an architect or a lawyer.