Apartment Living: 6 things to consider when buying an Apartment in Perth
As the housing market continues to get more expensive in Perth and other major cities around Australia, it makes sense that the interest in apartment living is steadily increasing. For many first home buyers, this is the only way to get into the property market while remaining close to the CBD and affording them the lifestyle they seek. For owner-occupiers and investors alike, apartments are a sound investment to satisfy a diverse range of needs.
If you’re considering apartment living, here are 5 things to consider before you buy…
As with all real-estate, the location of the building is going to be important. The proximity to essential amenities such as transport hubs, shopping, libraries, and open spaces such as beaches and parks should all be investigated. Additionally, the location of the apartment within the building complex is another important consideration also. Think about where the sun rises and sets and how this will affect the lighting within the apartment throughout the year between Winter and Summer. Is the main bedroom near a thoroughfare? Is the apartment close to the Elevator or Garage etc.?
These questions aren’t necessarily negatives, they should be used as part of the overall proposition and negotiation for the purchase price.
2. Body Corporate
Unlike a house, there are additional costs involved when investing in an apartment. These are known as the Body Corporate fees and they go towards the upkeep of the communal areas within the apartment complex. Body Corporate fees vary significantly depending on the property and are usually calculated based on the age, the number of units and the shared amenities included on the property. It’s important to factor in these extra costs when determining your overall budget.
Furthermore, whilst you’re allowed to make changes within the apartment, any work that will affect the exterior portion of the apartment will often need to be approved by the Body Corporate first. Usually, owners don’t make significant changes to the exteriors of apartments, but the Body Corporate requirements could even affect smaller things such as the placement of outdoor air-conditioning units etc. The positive side of this is that having changes run by the Body Corporate Committee (Made up of owners within the complex) it helps to ensure that no major decisions affecting the communal areas are made without your knowledge.
3. Community Demographic
Some apartment complexes can operate like their own small community. When looking at buying an apartment, it can be helpful to try to gain an understanding of the building’s demographic first. A helpful way to gain useful information about the complex is to request a copy of the minutes from a recent Commitee meeting. If there are any significant known issues with the building or current occupants, it will usually be discussed at some point during these meetings.
Some other information to consider that may be important to you could be the percentage of apartment owner-occupiers versus investors who are renting out their apartments and what the renters are like. It all comes down to research: Speak with your agent about the building and the strata committee, take the time to understand their by-laws and any rules/requirements in place for things such as for noise, pets, and communal areas.
4. Building amenities
Pools, gyms, BBQ areas and basic services such as garbage bins are often shared in apartment buildings. Whilst having all these amenities available in an apartment complex is great, there is something to look out for. When viewing these areas keep an eye on how well these communal areas are maintained. Unkempt communal areas could be a sign the complex is poorly maintained or potentially that there is a lack of funds to manage the upkeep of the areas. It’s also sensible to investigate the building’s security and privacy measures! Things you may want to check could include: Walkways leading to the building are well lit, security doors, keyless entry to lobbies and/or elevators, CCTV cameras etc.
5. New Builds vs Old Charm
After a handful of open inspections, you’ll start to realise the significant differences between new and older apartments. Both types will have their own unique pros and cons and it will be up to you to make the decision on which one you prefer. Whilst some like the clean and modern styling of new apartments, the rooms can tend to be much smaller in these new builds. Additionally, there are often more apartments squeezed into the blocks. Unlike older units that have stood the test of time, recently built complexes should still have a professional building inspection conducted to assess the quality of construction.
Older apartments that have stood the test of time are often a bit bigger and have fewer apartments in the block. They can also have a more unique charm about them, but this can also come at a price. The age of the building could result in the requirement for more upkeep in the short term. Although older apartments are primed for renovations and potentially increasing their value, there also may already have been some dodgy DIY work that may need rectifying. Having Total Home Inspections conduct a pre-purchase building inspection will help you understand the actual condition of the apartment and put your mind at ease.
6. Apartment Building and Pest Inspections
Just like when purchasing a house, one of the most important steps to take before you buy an apartment is to have a professional Building and Pest Inspector come through and check your property.
Something you may not be aware of is that when you organise a Building and Pest inspection on an apartment or a unit, the Inspector can only provide the report on the internal portion of the apartment including any other areas which are included in the sale such as storage rooms, car parks etc. Furthermore, multi-level units or apartments usually don’t have areas such as roof voids to be inspected unless your apartment is on the top floor.
Whilst your apartment is solely owned by you, the common areas such as, driveways, elevators, stairwells, pools, or any other area that is available to all occupants of the complex belong to the body corporate. This arrangement is called ‘strata title’ and these areas won’t be included as part of your Building and Pest Inspection.