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7 things to look for when buying an apartment

Whether you’re looking to live in one yourself, or to invest in one to rent out to someone else, there are many things you should look out for when buying a unit. Certain things will make a unit more attractive to prospective renters, while others will make it a more comfortable place for you to live in.

Here are 7 things we suggest you look out for when buying a unit.

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1. Is it a strata titled property?

Will you only be buying the individual unit, or will you also have shared ownership of the rest of the building (including stairways, gardens, foyers etc) under a strata scheme? On top of your own bills, under a strata scheme you will have to pay strata levies to the owners corporation, to help cover the cost of maintenance, insurance and any other expenses that might arise. How much of a levy you’ll have to pay will depend on any expected and unexpected expenditures that may arise, as well as the age, size and amenities of the building.

2. Quality construction.

As with any property, you want to make sure the unit and the block itself have been constructed to a certain standard. When you’re sharing walls with other people, and your floor is someone else’s ceiling, numerous problems can arise that you may not get when living in a house.

According to Choice, Australia’s most trusted consumer advocacy group, some of the most common building defects recorded in unit blocks include water leakage, cracking in walls, guttering faults and noise break-through, so these are all things to look out for.

Like any asset, the value of a property will decrease over time due to general wear and tear, this is called depreciation. Have a read of our guide on depreciation and what you need to know about it.

3. A parking space.

underground parking garage Some apartments might have underground parking levels or allocated spaces for street parking. Some will have a small lot out the back with room to park just a few cars. Others will have garages for individual units.

You probably don’t want to have to compete with your neighbours for a space, so look for unit blocks that have enough parking spaces for each tenant.

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4. A high percentage of owner occupiers.

Unit blocks where many of the tenants actually own the unit (as opposed to renting it) tend to be better maintained, as the owners actually have a vested interest in the state of the building. A unit in a building that is well maintained will always be more attractive to a prospective renter or buyer than one that is poorly looked after.

5. A good location.

young-man-outside-coffee-shop Sometimes, having many blocks of units in one area can be a negative thing. Units on clean, wide streets with nice footpaths, alongside good-sized houses with green lawns, close to public transport and other amenities, will of course be more attractive to renters and buyers than a unit amid a whole bunch of other identical unit blocks.

There are many eyesores you, or potential tenants, probably won't want to live near. Read our list to learn about a few of them.

6. Desirable orientation.

Look at how much natural sunlight a unit gets. A unit with north-facing windows will help keep the house warm in the winter months, but shades may be needed to keep the heat out during the summer months. A unit with east-facing windows will only get sunlight in the morning, and will be dark and cool during the afternoon.

Units that don’t get a lot of natural light are more prone to having mold and mildew issues, so look for a unit with an orientation that is most compatible with the kind of climate you’re living in.

7. Are pets allowed?

young bearded guy stroking his dog indoors This is a big one for many people. Lots of units do not allow tenants to have pets. Complaints of birds chirping too loudly or dogs doing their business on a shared lawn are things building managers and landlords don’t want to have to deal with.

It’s not a good idea to hide pets from your landlord. Complaints from a neighbour about property damage or noise from your pet could see you potentially facing eviction. If you don’t want to have to choose between living in a particular unit and keeping your pet, always check whether or not the unit block you’re looking to buy or rent in prohibits pets.

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Tags: property, first home buyer, unit, apartment, pets, new purchase

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