At the August 2019 Property Feed event sponsored by PEXA, Dan Everett of EVERETT Property Development Management hosted a panel discussion to uncover insights on residential subdivision off-the-plan sales in South East Queensland with the following speakers.

Damien Ross
General Sales Manager at QM Properties

Rebecca Delay
Development Manager at Village Building Co

This article provides a general overview on the sales process and subdivision structure, followed by the panel speakers insights on:

  • Sales Strategies
  • Benefits to the Developer for including a CTS and CMS on a title
  • Benefits of constructing display homes
  • Key successes to obtaining off-the-plan sales
  • Key pointers regarding marketing / sales / settlement processes with land developments

Before a new lot is sold, it must be created and have the title registered. Prior to settlement, developers often seek to obtain several pre-sales in order to de-risk the development or as a pre-conditional requirement to construction finance approval. At EVERETT Property Development Management, we are assisting landowners & developers through the subdivision process. Below is an example subdivision process when seeking pre-sales after development approval.

Subdivision Process (With Pre-Sales)

  1. Feasibility Study
  2. Site Acquisition
  3. Design
  4. Development Application & Approval
  5. PRE-SALES
  6. Operational Works and other authority Applications & Approvals
  7. Preparation of Principals Project Requirements (PPR) and Request for Tender (RFT) and Construction Contract
  8. Tender process with selection of Contractors
  9. Construction Finance Application & Approval
  10. Construction (Superintendent of Construction Contract)
  11. Plan Sealing
  12. Practical Completion
  13. Titles
  14. Sales – Settlement (Show me the money)!
  15. Defects Liability Period

To learn more about the subdivision process, contact Dan Everett of EVERETT Property Development Management

Subdivision Structure

There are multiple options for structuring a Subdivision Development including:

  • Subdivisions under Registered Plan (RP) Title
  • RP Title with Covenant (Design Guidelines)
  • Strata Plan (SP) with Community Title Scheme (CTS) / with a Community Management Statement (CMS)
  • Strata Plan (SP) with Community Title Scheme (CTS) / with a Community Management Statement (CMS) and Covenant (Design Guidelines)

Additional to the above, Subdivision Structure options include varying requirements for example, easements, restrictions, encumbrances, caveats and notices, of which are unique to each development.

PROPERTY FEED – Panel Discussion

Dan Everett of EVERETT Property Development Management hosted a panel discussion to uncover insights on residential subdivision off-the-plan sales in South East Queensland.

QUESTION 1  To: Damien Ross – QM Properties  

QM Properties have undertaken all forms of Subdivision Developments.

One of them being Coomera Waters. A master planned waterfront community located in Coomera, one of Gold Coasts fastest growing northern suburbs.

Coomera Waters is developed under a Strata Plan with a CTS and CMS, can you share why there is a Strata Plan on this development and what are the benefits to the Developer for including a CTS and CMS?

Coomera Waters was created by Austcorp with a Community Title Scheme. QM Properties acquired the project when there were only a few lots left. We also have a development on the north side of Brisbane called Pacific Harbour, with approximately 800 lots. There is a Community Management Statement in place and part of the Body Corporate at Pacific Harbour because it contains a golf course. The main reason why we had decided to pursue the body corporate structure was because of all the facilities and we wanted to offer a point of difference to the buyers.

There is always resistance to having body corporate in a development. But you just need to show the benefits of the body corporate to buyers. The biggest thing for us with that body corporate, especially at Coomera Waters was the security aspect.  There was several separate CTSs within the main body corporate itself (there were six other minor body corporates associated) and a lot of those had gated communities, swimming pools, etc. which really offered that point of difference to a lot of other developments.

In summary, CTS and CMS can really offer that point of difference to the buyers.

QUESTION 2 To: Rebecca Delay – Village Building Co

Village Building Co are currently selling land for their development Woodlinks Village in Springfield. Sales look to be successful for this masterplan development.

Can you talk us through your journey from first pre-sale to now pre-selling Stage 4B?

Can you tell us how you are successful in obtaining off-the-plan sales?

We started selling Woodlinks Village approximately 4 years ago, located in the Ipswich catchment in Collingwood Park. Woodlinks Village is an 800 lot subdivision and we now have over 600 new residents. At the start of the development we had to understand our market to start successfully with pre-sales. There was a need from the first homeowner buyers, so we tapped into that market and delivered a product that was suitable to them.

We really needed to bring our product to life through our marketing campaign. We utilised renders, plans, virtual videos etc for the end buyers to really understand what they are buying and what the project was going to look like.

Overtime, we have established a great community at Woodlinks Village, where our buyers can now envisage what it is going to be like to live there. Our buyers now obtain direct feedback from our existing community, which is helpful. We host a lot of internal and external events. Things like community, Christmas, networking events, this is certainly something that has helped us to sell Woodlinks today. Another key success would be our referral network, so buyers at Woodlinks would refer their friends and family members and from that we have been able to secure a lot of sales from that.

In summary our key success to obtaining off-the-plan sales, is really understanding your market and delivering a product that that market wants. Also, utilising our marketing collateral to bring our project to life and heavily relying on our builder referral networks. We continuously work on nurturing those relationships with builders and ensuring that they are then referring clients back to us.

ABOUT PEXA

PEXA is short for Property Exchange Australia.

PEXA is an online settlement platform. It facilitates the lodgement of registry documents and financial settlement online in a simple transaction. PEXA is integrated with State Revenue Offices and Land Registries in every state. PEXA Subscribers are typically financial institutions, legal practitioners, licenced conveyancers and some other organisations.

The benefits of electronic settlements:

  • Cleared funds transferred at time of settlement
  • Transfer lodged at time of settlement
  • Decreased risk of settlement delays 
  • No physical attendance at Settlement
  • No Bank Cheque Fees
  • Lodgement Verification
  • PEXA Projects
  • Integrated Payments with ATO

To learn more about how PEXA can help with your next property settlement, get in touch with Wayne Milner, Details for PEXA can be found at the end of the article.

QUESTION 3 To: Damien Ross – QM Properties

Damien – 80-90% of your stock is sold to owner-occupiers.

I understand you have an internal Sales team of 22 people.

Can you share insights on how your Sales team are successfully achieving Pre-Sales and transacting in this market?

Firstly, a little bit of history, we sell at anytime across 15-20 projects in South East Queensland. I have six offices and six sales managers (one in each sales office) with a total sales team of around 20 – 22 people. A lot of our team are long term and purchase land within our estates, and its interesting, a lot of the sales staff have been there a lot longer than I have. I have been with QM Properties for 15 years. So, we have a good long-term relationship with our sales team.

One of the things that is interesting though in modern day selling, which has changed from say 15, 20, 25 years ago, is that 20 years ago it was all about closing, getting the sale and signing people up. QM Properties today have now created seven different modules for training new staff and two out of the seven modules were dealing with the client and closing. The rest of the modules were training our sales team and building up their knowledge so that they are trusted advisors to the buyer. These days, buyers really can tell whether they are dealing with a salesperson trying to close or a trusted advisor.

Our buyers have the option to sign up on not only land, but also house and land package. So, buyers know before they sign up on a block of land, to the cent, how much they are going to spend on a house. This creates a really good journey for the buyer and it also makes sure that our sales team are not just trying to close deals on the day, but they’re trying to build a relationship with those buyers over the three to four months that it takes to get that sale unconditional.  

QUESTION 4 To: Rebecca Delay – Village Building Co

You currently use external sales agents and channels to sell your land, can you share insights on your sales strategy?

Village Building Co are predominantly a developer that sell to the owner occupier market. At Woodlinks Village for example, we are about 70-75% owner occupier, with the balance there being a mix of builders and investors. We do have our own internal sales channel that do work out at our onsite sales office and deals with any enquiries we get in through our traditional marketing channels and campaigns. We also deal with builders, agents, investment channels etc.

Our strategy working with external partners is that we are very transparent with what we do, we provide them with soil testing, we ensure that all our earthworks and delivery means that no hidden costs for our end user. So, they are not going to get any nasties come completion. We align ourselves with groups that share the same vision with us and ensure clients know what they are getting.

QUESTION 5 To: Rebecca Delay – Village Building Co

What are some key pointers you can share regarding the marketing / sales / settlements process with land developments?

Our key to success is knowing our market initially. You want to ensure you are aware of who the demographics are you are targeting. This can obviously change over time with changing market conditions, but you have got to have the flexibility to change, which sometimes means having to amend the DA.

Another pointer is ensuring you have marketing collateral that can really bring the project to life, people need to be able to visualise what it is that they are potentially going to be living in, but also content that they can engage with and is readily available. We live in such a digital environment now and if someone cannot find something online, they’re just going to move onto the next project that will deliver them with that information.

QUESTION 6 To:  Damien Ross – QM Properties

When the Government are making lending more readily available to younger people like reducing the serviceability rate, have you noticed any changes in your sales rates from this?

It hasn’t completely flowed through yet, but we have had a good July – August 2019 on the back of the bank’s serviceability changes. I recently saw some serviceability calculations from our lenders that we utilise and for a typical product the serviceability increased by $70,000 – $100,000. So, to answer the question, yes. It has been great for First Home Buyers. It was much welcomed – put it that way.

QUESTION 7 To:  Rebecca Delay – Village Building Co

How do you pre-qualify your leads?

With our project at Woodlinks, once we are able to make contact with leads and establish whether or not they have pre-approved finance, if they do, that’s great and a lot of them will then utilise their own banks or broker to be able to go down the track of obtaining finance. If they don’t though, we work with a close group of brokers that we are able to refer them to. They will check what their borrowing capacity is, what their serviceability is, whether they need to go on a savings plan, and if that is the case, that’s when selling off the plan can really work for those groups because they may need 3 or 6 months to be able to save a little bit extra. From there it’s about educating the buyer, holding their hand through the next phases. 

QUESTION 8 What are some of the successes you have seen utilising the PEXA software for settlements?

Rebecca Delay  –  We have only started utilising PEXA over the last 6 months, and  for us it is a seamless process. Basically, both ends can book in settlement and from there, the settlement just happens instantaneously. No longer is our solicitor running around to book in a settlement, so having the electronic process is a massive time saver and has just made the process much easier. Less paper, less time – what more could you want.

Damien Ross – QM Properties have been utilising PEXA for 12 months. It has been an education process for our lawyers. We are now at a strike rate of about 50% PEXA settlements.

The biggest benefit you will find is the remittance of the GST to the ATO, it saves so much hassle, and our accountants love the days that we are doing all PEXA settlements. If you are not using the software, it will be compulsory in QLD in a few years I’m sure.  

I can talk from a personal experience; I had my own house settlement completed through PEXA. I didn’t know how good it was until I went through my own experience. My lawyer was in Townsville, my house was in south side of Brisbane, and the buyer of my house lived in Sydney. They did a simultaneous settlement of the house in Sydney and my house on the south side of Brisbane, through my lawyer in Townville on a Friday afternoon and I had cleared funds in my account when I checked 10 seconds later after settlement.  So, I was happy with that.

Article Credits

Article written by, Dan Everett – Founder of Property Feed and Director of EVERETT Property Development Management

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