Buying Vacant Land from a Developer

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If you are planning to purchase vacant land from a developer, you should be aware of the risks in entering an off the plan land contract. At McLaughlin & Associates Lawyers, we specialise in assisting buyers purchase land from developers. This article will highlight some of the important things you should be aware of before entering an off the plan land contract.

Land subject to registration

Most vacant blocks of land within a land estate are subject to land registration. This means, the land is not yet individually registered with the Queensland Titles Office and yet to be identified as its own separate parcel of land.

Land registration can be delayed due to inclement weather, trade shortages and approvals from the local authority/council. Land registration will occur after you sign the contract and in most instances, will not occur for several months and in some cases years.

Finance due dates

If you are obtaining finance from the bank to purchase vacant land, you will not be provided unconditional finance approval until the vacant land is registered.

Developers generally give buyers a short period of time to obtain unconditional finance (I.e 14 days from the contract date) yet the land may not register for another 6-12 months or even longer and your financier will not loan you money or give you unconditional finance approval until the property is registered and a proper valuation completed. Beware of banks providing “pre-approval” or “conditional finance” letters as they are not unconditional approval.

You should try and negotiate a finance date that is after registration of the land. It is best to speak with one of our Property Lawyers as to the wording of such clause when getting your contract reviewed.

Sunset clause

When you enter into an off the plan contract to buy vacant land, the developers will most certainly have a sunset clause. A sunset clause is effectively a clause that puts a deadline on the contract being completed. If settlement has not occurred by the sunset date (legally up to 5.5 years from the contract date) either party can terminate the contract. This means that technically, you and your deposit can be tied into this deal for up to 5.5 years. Thus you may miss the opportunity to purchase another property during this time and if property prices are on the rise, it may cost you dearly.


When you enter into a contract to buy land in an estate, the developers will often require you to conform to certain requirements throughout your residence and during the building phase including:

  • Restrictions on the type of house you can build on the land – I.e lowset, no front fence, Colourbond side fences and tiled roofs;
  • Prohibition on parking of caravans, trucks, boats and trailers in the front of property; and
  • If you re-sell the property, a requirement that you have the buyer sign a deed agreeing to be bound by the same conditions.

If you do not have your off the plan contract reviewed by a qualified property lawyer, you may be seriously disadvantaged. So, before you sign anything, talk to one of our lawyers today. Do not hesitate to contact our friendly Property Law team on 07 3808 7777 or send us an email at

John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin

Principal Director
Dominic Doan

Dominic Doan