Buying Land | Tips and Tricks

Buying a brand new block of land in a new release is a different buying experience! Being a development specialist, we’ve created a top checklist for you to help you with buying land off the plan.

Buying a new home can be a nerve-wracking process, but many buyers are turning to new land releases, and buying land without even being able to see the exact block they are buying.

In a property market that is getting more and more competitive by the day, Australians are finding themselves visiting sales sites on the weekend, and checking out the newest land releases in brand new communities.

Buying land can provide a range of benefits. Firstly, there are the ever increasing incentives for new home construction available for many buyers, as well as discounts on both land and construction. Secondly, you can build the home of your dreams! No need to settle for someone else’s design. You can design something that works for you and your immediate needs.

Finally, while there is often a teething period for new communities and the construction around the area, these new communities are master-planned and designed with a wide range of community amenities, transport links, open spaces, making for a high quality of living.

Looking at some of these estates? We’ve compiled some top things to look out for when looking at new land.


Zoning can be a complex beast, however the type of zoning is important for what you are looking to build. This can define what development code your new home can be built under. In the case of NSW, do you have to go through DA? Or can you go down the more streamlined and home builder friendly CDC code?

While there are a lot of zonings out there, in most cases, new land releases will fall under the residential ones, it would be highly unlikely for you to buy an industrial block of land. Unless you don’t read the ads, or completely ignore the contractual clauses.

In the case of NSW, the core zonings that typically occur in residential land releases are R2, with E4 and R3 blocks becoming more common. Find out what the zoning is, as this will determine what constraints you are required to comply with. E4 for example are larger blocks, but have a few extra items that you need to check and look into. Being prepared means you can make more efficient decisions when building your new home, as well as saving you money. If you are buying in a rural area, or semi-rural areas, you may come across variants of the Rural Zoning, RU4.

We won’t be going into the differences between all the aforementioned zonings, as these can differ depending on where you are buying, and in some instances the council. But ultimately, find out and understand and you’ll be better prepared to make an informed decision about your purchase.

Easements and other funny legal terms

The zonings aren’t the only constraint that can affect what type of dwelling you can build on your new block of land. Each property, regardless of whether it is a new home or a 100 year old existing home, has a series of legal items registered to the block. These are known as Easements, Covenants, Caveats, and Restrictions.

These are very specific legal terms, and the terminology used very technical, and best described as ‘legalese’. It is important to know these items and how they affect you and what you want to do, however it is best to have your solicitor explain these to you in order to actually understand them.

In our time working in development, we’ve come across numerous instances where the client has misunderstood the nature of which a certain legal provision affects them, ultimately missing out on a great block. Every single property in NSW will have one or multiple of these items. Some of these are as basic as essential services, some are more complex. And they don’t necessarily affect value or even buildability.

The most important step for understanding restrictions of any kind, is to engage a proper solicitor, with experience in new land subdivisions. Make sure to ask them to outline the different items listed on the contract (in a section known as the 88B and Section 10.7 certificate for NSW) so that you understand them and what they are.

Shape and Slope

When buying a new block of land, chances are you’ll be visiting one of the many project home builders and their various display villages for your brand new home. It is important to note, that these builders work on volume. They have houses of many sizes, but very few shapes.

It is important to understand what shape your block is, and whether an existing design can work with the block. While we all make changes to our designs ultimately, the more changes you make, the more expensive your build will be. Understanding the shape will help you make a better decision when it comes time to choosing your new home.

The slope is as important. Most new land releases in greenfield regions are relatively flat, but looks can be deceiving. A block you think is pretty flat can carry some amount of slope across the block.

A sloped block can provide some really amazing design benefits, and some amazing homes out there are split level and create efficient, open, stylish layouts. But it’s important to match up what you want to build, with what you can afford.

Typically, most project home builders can build on a maximum 1.5m of slope across the block, but check with your builder for accurate numbers and costings.

Last but not least – a good solicitor.

While there are a number of other things we could address when it comes to land releases, the main summary point for us would be a good solicitor. It is paramount you get a solicitor who knows and understands new land. If we had a dollar for every time we’ve come across a rescinded deal because of a conveyancer not understanding the intricacies of new land, or house and land, we’d probably be buying one of the blocks in cash.

A good solicitor is hard to come by, but when you get or find one, jump on them. They will ensure the process goes smoothly, you are protected, and that you also have realistic expectations when it comes to the process and everything that happens behind the scenes with new land.

Written by Dave Mills
May 21, 2021
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