Before You Buy a New Development


While apartment living comes with many attractive benefits, owners corporation manager Bryan Phillips advises that proper checks and reviews must be done to ensure buyers are making a smart purchase.

Over the past 25 years, the number of occupied apartments in Australia increased by 78 per cent and by mid-2020, nearly 500,000 Victorians opted for a more compact style of living. Statistics aside, multi-unit development living is the flavour of this millennium and despite the pandemic slowing the start of new construction to the lowest level since 2007, Victorians are still spoilt for choice. It’s an attractive option for a variety of reasons. These include cost, convenience and the key factor – location. Singles, couples and families at all stages and all ages are heeding the call. And the trend is here to stay.

Take a look around any inner-Melbourne neighbourhood and you can’t help but notice the evolution to townhouse or apartment living, away from the typical 1960s Aussie dream of a single home on a standard block, complete with the Hills Hoist. But new buyer beware! Whether the reason for your dream apartment or townhouse is affordability, sustainability, security, environmental sensitivity or an ideal lifestyle, here are a few things to consider before you settle:


Research the team behind your project as much as possible. It’s important to know who you’re dealing with. There are many builders and developers with solid track records – plenty of reviews online and previous projects to view and inspect. Be mindful of first-time developers and backyard builders with poor reputations. Tips: • Read online reviews. • Speak with people who have previously bought from the builder or developer. • Visit previous projects. • Speak with local agents in the area – they can be a wealth of knowledge.


When you buy into a new project, you’ll be working with and paying for an owners corporation. Often the owners corporation is the last thing people consider when buying into a multi-residential apartment complex. Many see a project’s amenities as ‘perks’ which benefit their purchase. However, the reality is that as a lot owner, the more amenities you share, the more you’ll have to contribute towards their upkeep, maintenance and repairs.

It’s important to choose a property with amenities you really need. While the pool, golf simulator, cinema and gym are ‘nice-to-haves’, if you don’t intend to use them, you’re effectively paying to keep them in pristine condition ... for others living in your development. Ask the sales agent to introduce you to the owners corporation manager and ask for a copy of the first-year budget. Even better, ask for a second-year budget to get a clear picture of the scale of fees and any unexpected increases you may pay.


When you finally find your dream project with the right location and price point, ask the sales agent for a contract of sale that includes a section 32 statement. As this is one of the most important documents you’ll sign, it’s strongly recommended that you appoint a qualified conveyancer or solicitor to review it on your behalf.


• Is there a defect liability period – does it have a reasonable timeframe?

• Are there any special conditions? Often these work to a vendor’s advantage and should be reviewed by a licensed and trusted conveyancer or solicitor.

• Does the contract reference any storage cages, parking spaces, car stackers?

Don’t be dazzled by the glossy brochures. If you factor in the short-term financial pain of solid advice from experienced professionals to help you navigate the way, the long-term gains will be felt even before you turn the key to your new home. Bryan Phillips is a co-director and owners corporation manager at Tideways. Blending his background in financial service and passion in urban building design with a genuine interest in helping people, Bryan moved from Perth in 2008 to Melbourne and landed on his feet seven years ago in the owners corporation sector.

To reach Bryan Phillips, call (03) 9534 4614 or visit 

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