Are there jurisdictions (countries) in which it is illegal to presell a house (i.e. contractor selling a house without the property being already finished)?

The purpose should be to prevent contractor delays and/or construction malformations and even constructions deformations (the lack of one or more crucial structure parts).

  • Re: is it illegal to buy (or more likely sell) before building works are completed? Not an answer as I'm not familiar with the legal systems of nearly 200 countries - but I suggest not, with any remedies for malformations and deformations surely being covered by the contract.
    – user35069
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 11:30
  • I think it used to be the case in the Netherlands - the problem being that the legal sale of a house required it to meet official housing standards. And those were judged against the actual building, not the plans, so it required the property to be (almost) finished. E.g. electricity should be connected, kitchens tiled, etc. That was a bit of excessive regulation; there were plenty of buyers who could reasonably fix these things. I've contacted my party's MP on the housing committee over this, and they happened to be working on this area, so she agreed to look into it. Don't know how it ended.
    – MSalters
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 15:34
  • Were there some jurisdictions you were particularly concerned about? Some like China and Singapore don't even really define the rights of a home owner in a way comparable to U.S. law, and others like Saudi Arabia or Papua New Guinea can just barely be thought of as having what we would call a formal legal system for this kind of dispute.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 22:02

1 Answer 1


I know that in many countries, including the US, the UK, and most, perhaps all, of Europe, it is common for houses to be sold while still under construction, so no such legal prohibition exists (or at least is enforced) in any of those countries. I have never heard of any country which has a general law against such a practice, but I cannot be sure for all countri8es in the world.

There are other was to "prevent contractor delays and/or construction malformations and even constructions deformations". Many counties have building codes, which make improper building techniques unlawful. In some countries failure to adhere to proper professional standards in such matters is unlawful, and it is usual for the purchase of an unfinished building to involve a contract, in which performance standards and dates are spelled out. Failure to adhere to such requirements would give the purchaser grounds for a lawsuit for damages.

  • How would it even function if you couldn't pre-sell? You can always structure the contract as a payment for the service of building the house. If this became illegal, would it mean that one couldn't hire contractors to build their house? Or would it mean that a 3rd party would not be able to facilitate such hiring?
    – grovkin
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 4:17
  • In the UK it is routine for newly built houses to come with 10 or 20 year warranties, so in theory any faulty construction should be exposed within the warranty period. Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 15:48
  • The other way to avoid the risk is to buy only completed homes.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 21:59
  • @grovkin Good point.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 22:00

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