New laws to protect off-the-plan buyers

Jodie Stephens

NSW home buyers who purchase off-the-plan will be able to terminate contracts or claim compensation if they're materially impacted by changes made to their properties, under proposed changes announced by the state government.

Property Minister Victor Dominello on Saturday announced the reforms aimed at creating stronger protections for off-the-plan buyers.

"Buying off-the-plan has become increasingly popular. But there are risks involved, and buyers can't just rely on lavish display centres and glossy brochures," Mr Dominello said in a media release.

The proposed changes will affect disclosures, cooling off periods, holding of deposits and sunset clauses, the release said.

Savita Singh, who bought an off-the-plan unit in Ramsgate, in Sydney's south, about four years ago, was "absolutely thrilled" by the announcement.

Ms Singh said the apartment she got was different in many ways to what she expected.

"It was very very stressful ... we had no idea where to go, what to do, the laws were not in place,'" she told reporters in Sydney.

"When I've gone into the details of how it looked like and what was done to my unit, I was very very disappointed."

The state government says off-the-plan sales have increased from 2000 in 2006/07 to nearly 30,000 in the last financial year.

Under the proposed reforms, buyers would be provided with a copy of the proposed plan, by-laws and a schedule of finishes before contracts were signed.

Vendors would have to provide a copy of the final plan, and notice of changes, at least 21 days before the buyer could be compelled to settle.

Buyers would be allowed to terminate their contract or claim compensation if they were materially impacted by changes made from what was disclosed.