Top tips for buying an apartment


Around 16 per cent of Australia’s private dwellings are apartments, and as the population increases, the push towards higher density housing, such as units, duplexes and townhouses, is likely to continue.

But buying an apartment is a slightly different proposition to purchasing a freestanding home. So what exactly should you look for and what things do you need to keep in mind?

Facilities

One big thing that attracts people to the idea of apartment living is that you can have access to a whole range of facilities without being required to personally maintain them.

Whether it’s an on-site gymnasium, a swimming pool, or communal barbecue area, these facilities can really add to your lifestyle, or be a drawcard for renters.

That said, they also need to be looked after and this is something to consider as you inspect apartment complexes.

Does the complex have the facilities you want and are they looked after well?

Strata fees

Buying an apartment generally involves buying into a strata scheme. 

Basically this means while you own the apartment you purchase, you share ownership of the property’s common property with the other owners in the complex.

As part of this, you will be required to pay strata fees, which go towards the building’s upkeep, insurance, any required repairs or capital improvements, and also things like rates.

It’s important to understand exactly what these fees will be each year, and this is something you should investigate long before you buy.

The management of this strata fund is generally handled by an owner’s corporation, who, together, make decisions about expenditure, including any required capital improvements.

Before you sign on the dotted line, you should due your due diligence to understand things like the following:

  • The age of the building
  • Is the owner’s corporation in debt?
  • What are the insurance costs each year?
  • Are there any major capital improvements on the agenda, or large maintenance/repair costs?

Parking and security

When you look at potential apartment complexes where you’re considering purchasing, don’t forget to assess important things such as parking and security.

Is there designated parking for each apartment, where do visitors park, is it secure and how do you get from the parking area to your unit?

Also how safe does the complex feel? Is it well lit? Does it seem secure? Can the general public access the complex or is it gated?

Neighbours

If you’re living in an apartment complex, you will have neighbours, and it’s a good idea to get a feel for what this community is like before you sign on the dotted line.

Prior to purchasing, visit the complex a couple of times, considering things like the level of noise, privacy, the community feel, and the way individuals maintain their own space along with the standard of the overall complex.

Property use

With the rise of short-stay accommodation, it’s also a very good idea to have a full grasp on exactly how an apartment complex is used prior to purchasing.

Questions to ask the sales agent include:

  • What percentage of the apartment complex is owner-occupied?
  • How many properties are made available for short-stay accommodation or holiday letting?
  • Are there any by-laws regarding short-stay accommodation and holiday letting?
  • What are the by-laws relating to noise, pets, use of common property etc?

How we can help

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