Buying an apartment? Here’s what you need to know
There’s a lot to love about apartment living. In Australia, more and more people are choosing to live in apartments over houses. The apartment market offers a wide range of options with lots of opportunity, and understanding both the financial and emotional commitments involved, there are important points every apartment buyer should consider before signing the contract.
When it comes to strata, key things to consider are levies, whether or not pets are allowed and the details of the strata manager. The main additional cost you’ll incur are strata levies for the upkeep of the apartment complex and for future major works. Strata levies are used to maintain common areas such as gardens – and pay relevant insurances, such as building and public liability. Always check the current cost of these levies before buying an existing apartment, and ask for an estimate when looking at an off-the-plan purchase.
Not all apartments have allocated parking, and in some council areas, on-street parking is largely restricted. If you have a car and need a parking spot, make sure it’s on the apartment title – and check the size and access to the allocated space.
Noise, or lack thereof, from nearby apartments is an important consideration. If the building has an open design, balconies that face each other, or common courtyards – noise levels might be amplified. If you’re moving into a new building and a quiet space to live is important to you, it’s a good idea to ask for projected noise-rating details.
Waste and recycling systems in apartment buildings vary considerably depending on the size and age of the building. In newer buildings, it tends to be easy to drop off rubbish and items for recycling through floor by floor waste chutes. However, older buildings are likely to have garbage chutes only, with recycling bins located less conveniently in a basement car park. Understanding the options is important, as rubbish is managed at the communal level.
Structure & quality
When thinking about the quality of the building, consider both the builder and developer’s reputations. It’s also a good idea to ask about the quality and age of fixtures and fittings. For older apartments, request information on how renovations, in particular large-scale renovations, are managed – and keep in mind the building’s existing services e.g. is there sufficient electricity for new air conditioning?
If you’re buying an apartment as an investment, vacancy rates are key. But they’re also important for owner-occupiers. An area’s vacancy rates may affect potential capital gain, as they’re a useful pointer to market demand. For an investor, if there are high vacancy rates, then the ability to achieve a reliable rate of return might be tough. In either case, it’s easy to get vacancy rate information and worth the effort.
For an existing building, checking out the facilities is as easy as doing an inspection and looking around the immediate area. When considering facilities, there’s awareness of the building’s general amenity that covers areas like transport and access to services. For new projects, the variety and level of facilities can vary from very basic to much more up-scale – it just depends what your personal wish list is.
Family sizes are changing, and apartment sizes are responding accordingly. Some households are getting smaller, and in some areas, 1-bedroom apartments have been incredibly popular. On the other hand, there are also more families downsizing from houses into 3-bedroom apartments.
For an apartment buyer, future development is important – as any development close to home can impact your quality of life. Will you lose a view or access to open space? Will there be road closures? It’s important to get an understanding of what the effects of new developments could be.
To make an informed choice when deciding to buy an apartment, it is essential to ask the right questions so that you feel happy and comfortable with your purchase.