Research types of property to buy

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There are various options when buying property:

Established property

Buying an established property generally means buying an older house, and maybe planning renovations and extensions.

Before you buy an established property to renovate, ask an architect, draftsperson or builder to report on what renovations are possible. To find a registered building practitioner, visit Victorian Building Authority.

If the property was built before 1990, it may contain asbestos. To understand the risks, visit Asbestos Victoria.

Even if you do not intend to renovate, a building inspection before you buy can help you identify repairs and maintenance requirements, and their estimated cost. For more information, view Inspect properties before you buy.

If building work has been carried out on the property in the past 10 years, check if these works were registered by:

  • checking the Section 32 statement, which should include these details
  • contacting the local council.

The quality and workmanship of registered building works are automatically covered by the builder's warranty. These warranties apply to the building work for 10 years, even if the property sells several times. For more information, view Building warranties, insurance and insolvency.

Buying from an owner builder

An established property may be an owner-built house or include other building work by an owner builder. An owner builder is a person who:

  • used their own skills to build, extend or renovate their home
  • managed sub-contractors to do the work.

You can tell if a house is owner built, or has had work carried out by an owner builder, by:

  • checking the name of the builder on the building permit attached to the Section 32 statement
  • contacting the local council
  • contacting the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). Owner builders must get a Certificate of Consent from the VBA before carrying out works over $16,000.

If a property includes work carried out by an owner builder less than six years ago, the owner builder must provide a defects inspection report. For more information, view Owner builders.

A copy of the owner's certificate of insurance and the defects report must be attached to the Section 32 statement.

Apartments, units or flats

If you are looking to buy an apartment, unit or flat, consider the following:

  • Can you hear people walking and talking in other apartments?
  • Can you smell cooking?
  • Are you near the garbage bins or waste collection areas? Are there any odours?
  • Is there a parking space on the title? If so, check that it matches the plan of subdivision and the contract of sale.
  • Does it have a strata title, common property and an owners corporation? What are the owners corporation rules?

Strata title is individual ownership of a unit or apartment within a multi-unit complex. If you are buying an apartment off-the-plan you will receive a certificate of title for your apartment at settlement. All apartment owners are joint owners of the common property (common areas shared by all the unit owners).

If you are considering a strata title property, find out about the owners corporation as you will be a member of the owners corporation if you buy the property. This means you will have the right to vote on decisions about the operation of the owners corporation and, among other responsibilities, must:

  • pay annual owners corporation fees, levies and charges
  • obey owners corporation rules. Rules may restrict renovations to the property, pet ownership and noise.

You can find out about the owners corporation by reviewing:

  • the owners corporation certificate attached to the Section 32 statement. This has details of current fees, insurance cover and maintenance works carried out. It also details any proposed works, fee increases and any potential or existing legal claims affecting the property
  • the owners corporation manager's details on our Public register of owners corporation managers
  • any contracts, agreements, leases or licenses affecting the common property
  • the minutes of the owners corporation's annual general meetings
  • the contract of sale.

For more information about how owners corporations work, view Owners corporations.

If you are considering a strata title flat, unit or apartment, use our Buying an apartment or unit checklist.

Note: While the flat, unit or apartment will most likely be a strata title, some may be a company title or stratum title. A legal practitioner or conveyancer can advise you on how these titles will affect your ownership, rights and responsibilities. For more information, view Company title and stratum title.

Rural property

Before you buy a rural property, consider the unique issues that affect property in a rural zone. Some considerations are listed in the Rural properties section on our Due diligence checklist.

You should also look into whether your water needs will be met. Without a water entitlement, you may not have the access you need. Ensure your legal practitioner or conveyancer applies for information statements from relevant water corporations for drinking water and rural water needs. To find the relevant authority, visit Water corporations - Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Vacant land

Before you buy vacant land, consider getting a soil test if you plan to build on the land. This could avoid costly problems when you start excavation and building. For more information, view the Soil and groundwater contamination section on our Due diligence checklist.

If rock must be excavated, or the site is a filled dam or on a flood plain, there will be extra costs associated with footings and foundations. For more information about foundations, display homes and land packages, view Building and renovating.