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Eight pitfalls to avoid when buying your first apartment

Not only is apartment living convenient and low maintenance, it is also much more affordable than buying a house. But unlike purchasing a home, when you buy an apartment you’re not only buying a place to live, but also investing in part ownership of a building.

Here are eight pitfalls to avoid before signing the dotted line.

It’s not ticking all my boxes

“First box to tick is good presentation and a well-maintained complex,” says interior designer Malvina Stone. “Aim for north-facing living spaces and an outlook. Check if the grounds are well-maintained, its proximity to cafes, shops and public transport, any shared community amenities like gym, swimming pool and BBQ area, and any outdoor space available for entertaining.”

It doesn’t matter who built it

“It’s always important,” says James Pagliaro from Ray White. “Research is key. Have a look at their previous developments. It will give you a good indication of the quality of yours.”

There is no parking

While a car park can add to the price of your apartment, the lack of one could affect its resale. “There are pros and cons here, but for a building without off-street parking, contact the on-site managers regarding renting a space, or apply for on-street parking,” says Pagliaro. “The city council’s website is helpful, but how easy it is to get a permit is dependent on the area.”

It doesn’t matter who my neighbours are

Whether you are buying a house or a unit, there is always the danger of having a bad neighbour. “Observe how neighbouring apartments present,” says Stone. “If there is a high proportion of owner-occupiers in the building you are [onto] a winner, but if not don’t be deterred.”

Many buildings allow holiday letting, which some may find a deterrent. “There is no right or wrong answer here,” says Pagliaro. “Each to their own. Some people enjoy having a new neighbour every weekend. The positive with Airbnb is you will never be stuck with one annoying neighbour for an extended period of time.”

I’ll worry about body corporate fees later

Along with usual domestic utilities like water, electricity and gas costs, as a member of the body corporate you will be also be required to pay ongoing charges for everything, from garden upkeep to the manager’s fees. “Strata fees vary,” says Pagliaro. “When buying an apartment, the agent should be transparent with you. Body corporate fees are very important to make note of before purchasing an apartment. It is vital to be aware of them. If excessive, that apartment you love that is within your budget, suddenly isn’t.”

Strata manager? Never met her

Pagliaro says getting to know your strata manager is an essential step in pre-purchase research. “You don’t have to be best friends, but it is important to understand the building’s culture and how they resolve issues. The strata manager will be your first port of call for any issues and maintenance in common areas, as well as any questions about the building.”

Request committee minutes for the past few years and consider previous conflicts as well as unresolved ones that could have an impact on you in the future.

The interior is outdated

If your potential apartment needs an overhaul, enquire with the body corporate first regarding its permission process and to ensure your plans are feasible. Consider any contributing factors that could affect your plans as well as day-to-day life, like the thickness of internal walls and size and structure of balconies.

With their thicker walls, bigger rooms and higher ceilings, Stone says older apartments are often considered a great buy. “The best apartments are those that have individual architecture or character that are solidly built and well appointed,” she says. “Mid-century modern and heritage are very desirable, especially if they have been renovated.”

If considering a new apartment, look for fully-tiled bathrooms, functional kitchen and bathroom and quality flooring. “They are all expensive to replace,” she says. “The internal fittings are important too. You need a good foundation to start from.”

Will my furniture will fit in?

“I like a few over-scaled pieces in an apartment rather than one crammed with tiny pieces,” says Stone. “If every item is small it can look like a doll’s house. If you have a few existing pieces that you love, you can make them work, but never believe that you can simply transport your existing house contents into an apartment and they will work.”

Source: Domain Article 6 Aug 2018