Of course, buying off-plan bears some risk: During the economic crisis, quite a few developers went bankrupt while constructing buildings. This meant that their buyers lost both their money (sometimes their lifetime savings) and the expected property.
Developers who are in trouble have been known to demand additional money from customers, threatening them by saying the company might go bankrupt. This is not only the case with small, unknown companies – even top companies have practised this. Their threats are not empty: some companies do go bankrupt, leaving their customers empty-handed.
Apart from that, developers tend to trick and mislead buyers, trying to take advantage of their customers' unfamiliarity with property law and market rules. In general, developers have quite a bad reputation among Poles, and internet forums are full of frustrated people cheated by them.
What to avoid in a contract
Often, developers will try to give you a ready-made contract. If this is the case, don't just sign what you are given before making sure that the conditions fit your needs. If there is anything you would like to see changed, you should try to negotiate the conditions of the agreement
Many sellers will tell you about the stunning gardens, the playground facilities and the enormous garage that your apartment will have. However, to get all of these amenities, everything must be written in the contract (and the contract should include detailed plans of the area). If your developer “forgets” to include these extras in the contract, you can say goodbye to the jacuzzi they promised you.
Some contracts might require you to find another customer for your apartment in case you want to disengage, and some developers give only two weeks to do this. Since you probably cannot find someone in that time frame, you can demand that this clause be withdrawn from the contract.
Last but not least, remember that the contract should impose fines on a company for construction delays.
Keep your rights as a buyer
Developers commonly give themselves the right to administer the property for 12 months after transferring property rights to buyers. This simply means you will have to pay higher administration costs. You should be very suspicious when the contract gives administration rights to the developer for periods longer than one year (some companies save the rights indefinitely).
Ensure that the developer allows a telephone or internet provider other than his partner. You have the right to choose the most convenient provider.
Finished property must be the same as it was on the plans included in the contract. If the developer fails to build your property according to the specifications, you can always report him to the local Rzecznik Praw Konsumenta (consumer's rights ombudsman) or the Urząd Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumenta (UOKiK – Office of Competition and Customer Protection). It also provides a listof the 370 municipal and district consumer ombudsmen.
More information about unfair developers' practices can be obtained on the UOKiK website.