How do I research the reputation of a property developer?

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Getting Started

Researching the reputation of a property developer in Australia is an important first step in determining whether or not they can be trusted to complete an off the plan project to satisfactory standards. Here at PMI, we work hard to only work with quality developers, and we regularly turn away developers where we do not agree with their track record.

This article takes you through the steps you should strongly consider before singing a contract. Simply visiting a property developers website will give you an overview of their recently completed projects, however anecdotal evidence isn’t often enough to determine credibility. If you’re thinking of investing in 2018 but aren’t confident in the developer, running through the following questions can help shine a light on their trustworthiness.

  • How many properties has the developer built?
  • Has the property developer had any complaints lodged against them and how have they handled the complaints?
  • What type of property development do they specialise in?
  • How do other properties the developer has been involved in look post completion?
  • Is the developer a one-project operator?

1. How many properties has the developer built?

The amount of properties a developer has been involved in is directly linked to their experience within the industry. A new property developer may be trusted to build a quality house or apartment, but do they have the skill to navigate any complicated legal problems or concerns that can arise from off the plan purchases. In this case, checking with their website should give you access to all of their completed projects. Crosschecking these with a property data finder such as CoreLogic and talking with the developers managing agent can also help confirm how many properties they’ve built since their establishment and how long they’ve been in the game for.

2. Has the property developer had any complaints lodged against them?

Complaints lodged against a property developer should prompt further enquiry regarding their business practices. While some grievances may be simple misunderstandings that have since been rectified; others relating to contractual disputes, completion times that are constantly delayed for no apparent reason or even the overall quality of the final build, can be much more severe. In Australia, it’s possible to check if a business has had complaints made against them by viewing the Fair Trading complaints register in your state or the state the company was established in. Bear in mind only companies with 10 or more complaints accrued over the course of a month will be listed, however sites like Unlock Property, Google Reviews and FB Reviews who provide a platform in which developers are rated by past clients. Try to find the truth in each review, and allow the developer to respond. This can provide insight into a developer’s history of complaints and how they handle issues raised.

type of property development

3. What type of property development do they specialise in?

A developer that specialises in high-rise apartment complexes may be inexperienced when it comes to multi-lot residential developments and vice versa. Ask yourself, “Does the developer have the skills and resources to complete this build based on their past projects”�? Once again, visiting the website of the developer or better yet, asking them to supply you with a list of property types they’ve worked on will give you supplementary evidence in which to discern their reputation.

4. How do other properties the developer has been involved in look post completion?

There’s no better indicator of a developer’s capabilities than how their past projects look post completion. Do the houses or apartments look poorly designed? What type of condition are they in versus how long since they were finished? Is there evidence that corners have been cut in regards to materials? Getting in your car and viewing their completed projects will give you a tangible understanding of the standard that the developer operates at and help you decide the reputation of a property developer in Australia.

5. Is the developer a one-project operator?

Small to medium size developers within Australia have been known to establish a front company (or simply a ‘front’) to absolve their main business of any claims or complaints stemming from poor quality construction or shoddy management practices. And while this isn’t actually illegal, unscrupulous developers can use these shell companies to take advantage of consumers. If you suspect your developer may be using this method of operation for purposes that could be deemed shady, you can go to the ASIC Connect website and conduct a free search for their business name or ABN. Pay a small fee and you’ll even be able to access their company history or the history of any other companies that they’ve been involved with. Your goal is to look for any evidence a company the owners are associated have been deregistered or gone into liquidation while under the same management.

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