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What to look for when buying an apartment

For first-time property buyers, especially those hunting properties in major metropolitan areas like Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne, an apartment is often the best and most affordable entry-level option for those who have a genuine desire to own their own place.

There are so many things to consider when buying an apartment. Here are a few hints to help you navigate the market and get the best apartment outcome.

Look at older complexes if you love your space

Apartments are not generally known for offering generously sized rooms. New apartments seem to be getting smaller and smaller and it’s not uncommon to come across brand new two-bedroom, two-bathroom Melbourne CBD or Southbank properties with just 60-70 sqm of space. If you’re after an apartment with a bit more size, seek out older buildings. While low rise period buildings will almost guarantee interiors with a wealth of space, even complexes built in the 90s or 00s should deliver larger proportions then ones being built today. Of course, the trade-off is that there are more likely to be maintenance issues with older buildings.

Don’t forget the Body Corporate!

You’ve found your dream apartment. It has everything you need; stunning high rise views, sleek and sophisticated interiors, and access to recreational facilities including an indoor pool, state of the art gym, sauna, cinema, tennis court, and more! As convenient as these facilities may be, they will come at a cost with a very high annual Body Corporate or Owner’s Corporation fees that will likely be in the thousands of dollars. Ensure you know what you’re getting into with these additional fees, because if you plan to live in the apartment for a few years this added cost could be significant.

Is buying off the plan a good idea?

One of the main advantages of buying off the plan is the minimal deposit you need to outlay, which might only be 5% of the purchase price. Having an agreed purchase price gives you certainty, plus you can also save a fair bit of money on stamp duty by purchasing off the plan. On the other hand, you really are at risk of the apartment’s value significantly dropping in value from the time of commitment to when it is built and you move in or want to sell. This is obviously dictated by the market and the complex you’ve bought into. You also have other risks associated with off the plan buying including something very unforeseen like the builder going bankrupt. Weigh up the pros and cons and make the decision based on the risk you can afford to take.

Parking is king!

If you’re buying an apartment in a city centre or even surrounding the CBD, ensure it comes with a car space if you do own a vehicle. This is a non-negotiable. You don’t want to be spending thousands of dollars a year on meter parking or getting parking fines for overstaying your welcome. If you can, find an apartment with more than one car space, even if you don’t need it. This leaves you with the option of renting out that second car space to another resident in the building or even a city worker.

Check out your neighbours

One of the downsides to apartment living is that you’re likely to have neighbours on the side and opposite you. And if the walls are a little thin, an overly loud and disturbing neighbour can be a problem. If you can, try and find out more about your neighbours before you make an offer to buy. As a minimum get details on the soundproofing installed in the walls and ceiling of the apartment you are considering. Finding out about your neighbours might mean asking the agent, the building concierge, or even knocking on doors and introducing yourself.

Know what is going on around you

This relates more to high rise apartments in CBD complexes, but ensure you know what type of other development is going on around you. You may have thought you picked up a bargain with your sleek and stylish pad with uninterrupted city views. But what the agents haven’t told you is that a new apartment complex is going right next to you and will totally block out your views and natural light. Do your due diligence and ask questions about surrounding property developments that may impact on you as an apartment owner.