In the absence of good legislation protecting consumer interest in NSW, here are some suggestions for helping you not buy a unit in a dud building, particularly if you are buying off the plan.
Find out the name of the developer and where possible the builder and architect (look for a name on the bottom of the layout drawings provided in sales brochures).
Look up the developers and builders brag sheet on their website and find at least two other buildings of a similar scale to the one you are checking out. Find out when these were completed. Don't buy into a building where they don't have at least two previous buildings on a similar scale completed at least five years ago.
Do a background check on those two buildings. Google the address, search on real estate sales sites for a unit for sale in that block.
Carry out a document search on that unit as if you were buying it. By paying a small fee you can either access the Strata Managers files for that building or buy a report by an independent consultant. Sales agent for that building should provide details.
Look through the history to see if major defect reports have been provided and also history of builder / developer-builders honouring repair commitments. You will soon get a sense of good or bad behaviour.
In checking through the reports watch for unresolved defects related to waterproofing and fire compliance issues. These are usually the expensive defects to be wary of.
Use the information from the search and any direct contact you can make with a Strata Committee member of the two previous buildings to guide your decision.
Remember there is a risk of buying a dud unit just like you can buy a dud car. Spend as much time in checking the track record of your unit as your would when purchasing a car.
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