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Buying an Apartment

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Having had the very real privilege of being involved in the development and marketing of apartments for more than 30-years, and I’ve seen the market constantly change and evolve into a dynamic and popular form of housing.

Today it’s also a modern-day housing market that delivers a great range of designs and size options across an entire range of locations and projects.

However, the last few years have delivered so many lifestyle changes and varied demands on our cities that I find more than ever that people are constantly asking what’s important when buying an apartment?

In many ways I suggest this is a positive question. I personally think it reflects the deeper maturity of the market and as lifestyles evolve, shows a wider appreciation among both investors and owner-occupiers of the benefits of apartment living.

Also, today many of the answers to the question of ‘what’s important when buying an apartment’ are in sharper focus while prices and opportunities always change in a very sophisticated market like the current market.

For example, this time last year many predicted rapidly falling house prices in the coming months. That proved to be an incorrect prediction, missing the mark by a country mile.

As we now know most prices in fact went totally in the opposite direction and there were a number of factors at work, including that the pandemic didn’t hit those high-income earners like it hit others, and there were high numbers cashed-up expats returning home.

We also saw that housing price increases were very robust among higher-priced houses.

This same group was also able to save more, as restrictions placed an almost instant break on travel and shopping. Combined with ultra-low mortgage rates, houses became an attractive magnet.

Another reason was that when the market nearly shut down early in 2020, this created pent-up demand until there was more normal freedom of movement later in the year.

And as we’ve seen from some recent sales, this all combined to create a perfect sellers’ market with strong demand across almost all market sectors.

What this sort of market volatility suggests is that today more than ever, when looking to buy an apartments and given the many options available, my advice is pay attention to the details.

By that I’m suggesting pay attention to the tried and true measures of what helps make an apartment the ideal home or a sound investment. The key points look fairly predictable, even unremarkable, but they are solid reliable indicators, and even more so when markets are as active as they are today.

Location will always be key however, consider location in the fullest context of your personal needs and perhaps avoid an emotional answer to this question. After all location is a complex issue.

Consider location from two aspects, the physical geographic location and also for apartment’s location within a building or project as both are important.

Then somewhat aligned to location, pay full attention to the market performance of an area. That’s reflected in price, but also rental demand, capital growth and the levels of current and future supply. And future supply right now is starting to fall behind levels of historic activity and demand.

Price might look tricky and can, as we currently see be unpredictable, so gather reliable and detailed historic price movements.

Apartments as I’ve already noted come in all a very wide range of sizes and quality, and even two adjoining apartments can offer very different lifestyle solutions.

I’d always suggest do not discount the must have items on your list of features and be very alert to the entire building and apartment quality. As obvious as it may sound, remember unlike a detached house, even when renovating an established apartment some changes are impossible.

The local environment is also worth detailed scrutiny, are there good areas for everyday shopping, is there ample open space and easy access to transport. In some new areas improvements might be on the way but, from day one when you run out of milk you don’t want to have to drive to a distant shopping centre. The local environment is your everyday backyard – it has to be both attractive but also functional and safe.

More regionally focused infrastructure is also important, and every buyer will have different needs – schools, playgrounds and supermarkets for example versus medical facilities, local cafes and shops and walkable open space.

And finally, be aware of the impact of any future projects or planned infrastructure as some projects may take years to arrive.

However, even as we’ve seen more demand for outer suburbs, I’m still reminded that established infrastructure and services are among the big and very real attractions of inner city living.

Over the last 12-months we’ve seen the undoubted appeal of ‘bricks and mortar’ as offering added security in a time of rapid change.

However, even as life appears to be slowly heading back to more normal times, buying an apartment is a big step.

In summary ‘check the details’ and that includes the fact you are buying into a strata community structure with its own set of rules. Despite the past 12-months being very different, the points I’ve covered here would be my answer as to what to look for when buying an apartment.


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Peter Chittenden

Managing Director, NSW | Residential


My professional knowhow stems from an extensive career in Residential property development, project marketing, site acquisition and property valuation.

I rejoined Colliers International 11 years ago as Managing Director, and since then I have worked to grow my team and our Residential division by more than 300%.

Across the country we have successfully launched and sold over 100 Residential projects, and we have played an instrumental role in every aspect of these successes for our clients.

I have built a team that offers the complete end to end service for our clients and customers alike, from the site aquisition right through to the sale and settlement of every last apartment. 

My 30+ years of experience in real estate, and genuine passion for property has seen me involved across numerous key industry bodies and groups, as well as the establishment of my own thought leading blog, with over 4000 followers from within the industry. 

Prior to my time at Colliers International, I held the position of National Sales and Marketing Manager for Stockland Apartments. During his time I launched and managed a national portfolio of major projects and led a large national sales and marketing team. Prior to this, I started and ran my own successful project marketing company, Realm Project Marketing, for three years specialising in large land estates, housing and apartment projects predominantly in NSW, providing a high level of service that extended beyond the traditional sales appointment.

In my earlier role at Colliers International I was the National Director, Residential Land Marketing, where I established a highly successful division which led to the appointment of our business to project market several major estates in Sydney and Melbourne, which commenced long lasting relationships that our business still maintains today. 

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