The process of apartment hunting can be intricate, but research can go a long way in forming a “solid launching pad” for purchase, a real estate agent has advised.
In an opinion piece for Smart Property Investment’s sister platform nestegg, Adrian Wilson, Ayre Real Estate’s principal and director, has provided his top five tips for anyone who is looking to purchase an apartment in 2020.
Here they are:
Location of the building is important to Mr Wilson, as is its “proximity to amenities such as shops, transport, beaches, parks, libraries and open space”.
Think too about the location of the apartment in the building: “Which way does it face? Is it near the elevator or garage doors? Is there thoroughfare near your bedroom? Is it a three-story walk-up block? Where are the bins located? Is the parking accessible?”
While the above questions aren’t necessarily negatives, Mr Wilson said they should still be considered as part of the overall proposition and offering for the purchase price.
2. Aspect and layout
While a view can be great, Mr Wilson considered that “sometimes choosing the right aspect is even more important”.
“Think about the light in winter and the sun in summer, cross ventilation and breeze, and the orientation of the bedrooms to common areas, neighbours and living spaces.
Aspects are subjective to personal preferences, and the real estate director has advised would-be buyers to “make sure you visit the property at the time of day you’ll normally be home to see what the lighting is like, so you don’t get a surprise when you move in”.
Floor plans should also indicate north – helping you to work out where the sun will rise and set in relation to any openings.
3. Vertical communities
Noting that some apartment buildings operate as their own communities, Mr Wilson said buyers should make sure to get “an understanding of the demographic of the building”.
“Understanding its culture and gaining a better outline of the community vibe and whether it suits your lifestyle is crucial,” he offered.
The percentage of apartment owners that are investors versus owner-occupants can also impact how future buyers may assess their investment into a building.
This is where research can help: Speak to your agent about the building manager, concierge and strata committee, and take the time to understand the by-laws, their requirements of owners as well as any rules in place for noise, pets and communal areas.
“You can request a copy of the minutes from a recent owners’ corporation meeting too, to help you identify and red flags,” Mr Wilson added.
4. Strata title
“Strata laws can be difficult to understand but are vital in making apartment living easier and more affordable,” he said.
“Instruct a strata search agent to conduct a report informing you about any upcoming special levies, if the sinking fund is healthy and other information on the building,” Mr Wilson offered.
The real estate agent has highlighted how important it is to be familiar with the various fees incurred, as well as the allowances for future improvements when buying into such schemes.
Despite this, “don’t be turned off by the annual levy, when factoring in the costs of maintenance, insurance, security and services for a single dwelling, they can often represent great value”.
5. Building amenities
Pools, saunas, gyms, and basic services such as garbage disposal, lobbies and mailboxes are often shared in apartment buildings.
Mr Wilson has advised potential buyers to “watch out for unkempt communal areas – which can be a sign that the building is poorly maintained or is lacking the appropriate funds to manage the upkeep of the common areas”.
It’s also advisable to investigate a building’s security and privacy measures, the real estate agent said, with easy factors to assess at open homes including: security doors, key less entry, cameras, if walkways leading to the building are well lit, and that the strength of locks and if the doors are heavy and well secured to the frames.
“In short, be observant and make sure you take in the property you are looking at, as well as the building’s common areas,” he highlighted.
In summary, Mr Wilson advised would-be buyers that they should “make sure to research any prospects thoroughly and consider the influence various factors have on the overall experience of living in an apartment”.