Agent Insights

Selling off the plan: from start to success

July 5, 2024

Series: Selling Off The Plan


When transitioning from selling established properties to off the plan properties, experienced agents should leverage existing skills and embrace new ones. Before getting started selling your first development, these five actions can create a platform for success:
  • Research and review the project developer to ensure they have a strong reputation for quality delivery
  • Understand how market and economic fluctuations specifically affect off the plan and how a sales strategy should adjust accordingly
  • Consider your role in building entire communities, as opposed to just selling singular apartments or residences
  • Commit to developing deep knowledge of the property and project; every feature, all the ins and outs, and the construction process
  • Be aware of the small print — the laws for off the plan can be different, as can sales incentives
Read the full article below for all the details.

Whether you’ve been in real estate for decades or you’re newer to the industry, transitioning from selling established properties that buyers can see, feel and experience, to selling off the plan can require a shift in thinking and approach in order to achieve success.

In our ‘Selling Off The Plan’ series, we’ll look at the skills and strategies that drive efficient and effective off the plan sales, and provide insights you can share with buyers who are searching for their perfect future home or investment. 

While real estate sales are often grounded in the idea of selling ‘the dream’ to a buyer – helping them envision what their life will look like if they live in this particular property or how they will benefit from investing in it – there’s no denying there’s a big difference between selling that vision for a property that already exists, to doing so for one that doesn’t. 

And though, in most off the plan cases, display suites are available to help bring that vision to life, the fact the buyer needs to commit while viewing an apartment that isn’t the one they will live in or own, can present a range of challenges agents need to work to overcome. 

Agents can and should leverage skills learned during the sale of established properties, but you also need to pivot and open yourself up to new techniques that provide the right support to a potential buyer in this distinct situation. 

As the agent, your job is essentially to bridge the gap between ‘now’ and ‘then’ so your buyer can see the potential of the property and the lifestyle or opportunities it presents. This requires a robust understanding of the project as well as the ability to manage their expectations over extended periods of time. 

Start from a solid foundation

After many years of working in project marketing and sales, one thing our team knows, is track record is everything. Whether we’re talking about the track record of the development group, the builder, or you, as the agent, a history of failures or successes can make a notable difference in achieving sales and even building interest in off the plan properties. 

The construction industry has been a space deeply impacted by a few negative stories over recent years, but reality is, there are many very reputable, reliable and successful development groups and construction firms that have never had any problems.

As an agent venturing into this space, your first and most important step will be carefully selecting the projects you choose to sell. Do your homework – look into the past projects of the development group, the quality of the construction company, the work done by designers and others on the team. Does it stack up? Have they lived up to their promises? Are their buyers happy?

Selling property that is part of a project being delivered by a proven developer decreases your own risk, and also allows you to leverage their strong reputation to reassure buyers who may have some uncertainties. In the end, the developer’s outcome, and their track record can impact and become your track record, so considered selection is key.

At LINK, we collaborate with a network of thousands of agents every year as part of our approach to marketing projects for our developer clients. We conduct our own due diligence and take a good look at the background of the groups we partner with so we can be sure our network can trust them to deliver, as much as we do. 

Understand the market

In off-the-plan sales, thorough market research is paramount. You need to be well-versed in current and future trends, demographic shifts, and economic indicators that can impact both a project and the niche market of people likely to be interested in it. 

Understanding these elements allows you to adjust your strategies with agility and intelligence, and provide informed advice to potential buyers, while anticipating any market fluctuations that could affect sales.

Keeping your eye on the property cycle and understanding how it influences the appetite for off the plan sales can also help you prepare approaches that will be most effective in different economic and market climates. 

Build communities

One of the most obvious differences between established residential sales and off the plan sales is in the former, usually only one property is being offered for sale, while in the latter, many will be on the market at once. 

What this means – other than offering a better range of choice to buyers – is you are not just selling a property, you are contributing to building a community. 

We all know location and community are often significant considerations for any buyer. People may be looking for a quiet neighbourhood full of like-minded families who go to sport on Saturdays and stay in on Sundays. Alternatively, they might be looking for a slice of culture, proximity to entertainment and dining, and the vibrant community of people who go with that. 

The nature, style, facilities and location of the property development will be your first big hint as to what type of buyer is going to be most interested in this property, and what type of community they are looking to live in. Using that as a starting point, you can undertake research that will help you define your target audience and better understand their motivations, pain points and vision, so you can more effectively communicate with them and target their desired community.

Always remember though, when selling property developments, you have a minimum of two audiences – those who will live there, and those who will invest so others can live there.

Live and breath the property

Many years ago, our next piece of advice would have been to collaborate closely with the development group and foster a robust relationship with them so you can gain an intimate knowledge of the building and units you are selling. 

These days though, medium and larger developers rarely work directly with agents, and rather, funnel sales efforts through project marketing firms, like LINK. The reason they do this is they have recognised sales of properties like theirs require unique skills and a lot of time and effort – and it’s better someone else focuses on that while they focus on delivering their project. 

Taking that on board, the advice can be upgraded to: collaborate closely with the project marketer and foster a robust relationship with them. As project marketers, it is our job to help you really get to know the ins and outs of the project, and coordinate the sales effort across a number of real estate agencies in a way that achieves large volumes of sales early, to give the project continued certainty and security. 

We recognise the absolute importance of agents in the process and see you as our partners. Our main focus, when it comes to sales, is equipping you with everything you need to share with a buyer – from marketing collateral to specific project training – so you can excel and the project can be a success. 

The small print

Finally, if you don’t have a lot or any experience in this space, it is crucial to know there are a lot of legal regulations to consider when marketing and selling off the plan. Making sure you brush up on these and you are aware of any restrictions or differences to rules for marketing established properties is critical to avoiding any issues. 

Likewise, incentives for agents and buyers can differ to those offered for established sales, so working with the project marketing company to understand them and keep up with any changes (these are usually communicated via calls or emails) can play a role in your success. 

– – – 

Selling properties off the plan is not only a lucrative opportunity for agents, it is also a really rewarding experience. When you have the chance to do a final inspection or hand over keys to a buyer who will open the door to a brand new home, never lived in by another person, the excitement and joy you are privileged to see and experience is an unbeatable outcome in property sales!

In our next article, we explore ‘Why now? Why timing is everything in off the plan sales’ and how you can communicate that ‘now’ is the right time to purchase, to your buyers. 

Know another agent who might be interested in off the plan sales? Share our articles with them to help them get started.

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