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7 things to consider when buying an apartment

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

According to the latest figures, the average Sydney house is now selling for $1.375 million, while the median price for a unit is $835,104 - a gap of almost $540,000. This means that Sydney houses are simply unaffordable for many property buyers.

On the flipside, apartments can be an ideal first home purchase or property investment. The significant gap in price may cause an increase in unit demand, ultimately driving up the price of apartments and narrowing the current value gap. For those looking to get in now, here are the seven things that we at Treak focus on when shopping for a unit.

1. Levies/strata fees

How much are the quarterly levies for your apartment of choice? They can make a significant difference to the ongoing cost of your purchase, so this is information you need to find out upfront. Levies are divided into two parts:

  • The administration fund: The fund used for the day-to-day, non-capital operating expenses of a strata scheme.

  • The capital works/sinking fund: The fund used for larger ad hoc expenses like repairs and maintenance.

Apartment buildings with lifts, pools and gyms tend to have high fees, so it’s important to ask yourself if you’ll actually make use of those facilities or if they will increase your investment return. Older buildings with fewer facilities and upkeep tend to have lower levies.

2. The Strata Report

You want to avoid buying into an undesirable situation, so you need all the facts before you make a decision. A strata report can potentially save you years of administrative and financial pain, or can give you the peace of mind you need to go ahead with a purchase. When you get the report, focus on the following details:

  • Is there any evidence of building or structural problems that may increase costs in the future?

  • Does the strata scheme have the necessary funds to fix these potential issues?

  • Are any special levies payable?

  • Is the building adequately insured?

  • Is there a history of issues between owners?

  • What are the regulations relating to renovations, refurbishments, short-term rentals and pets?

  • Are there any outstanding litigation issues?

3. Aspect

How much natural light will your apartment enjoy? Squeezed into a larger building, some apartments allow a limited amount of sunlight inside. The importance of natural light cannot be understated - it increases serotonin, improves vitamin D levels, helps house plants, and generally contributes to your physical and mental health. In Australia a north-facing apartment will enjoy the most natural light, east-facing apartments get morning sun, and west-facing apartments glow in the afternoon. South-facing apartments get the least amount of sun, and can subsequently suffer from mould, moisture and humidity.

4. Storage

Does the apartment have an appropriate amount of storage? Check for built-in robes, linen cupboards, storage cages, and kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. If space is lacking you’ll either need to find a different apartment, find a nearby storage rental, or purge a lot of your belongings. Garages can be an important asset for apartment dwellers, as they offer a place to store your bulkiest items.

5. Parking

Speaking of garages, a dedicated parking space is one of the most valuable features an apartment can have. This means that an apartment with a car park can cost significantly more than an equivalent apartment without, but it’s hard to put a price on the added convenience. If you don’t have a car, or you aren’t fussed with offering a parking spot to your tenants, be sure to check the local public transport options, as the connectedness of the apartment will be critical.

6. Development application (DA) approvals

As part of your due diligence, check development applications and approvals within the immediate area of the property - at Treak we look at development applications and approvals within 300m of the site. If the search shows plenty of upcoming development around the apartment, check whether these works will prove inconvenient in the short-term, compromise your privacy or view in the long term, or affect the apartment’s value (for better or worse.)

7. Location

We listed it last only because it is so obvious. Location is usually the most important factor when buying an apartment. While apartments tend to offer less living space than houses, they tend to be located in the heart of the action, whether in the CBD or the centre of a thriving suburb. Consider nearby facilities and amenities like supermarkets and shops, cafes and restaurants, pubs and bars, and public transport. Keep in mind that easy access to nature and open space, whether in the form of parks, waterways or green spaces, has become far more desirable in the last couple of years, both for owners and tenants.

Ready to buy? We’re ready to help!

At Treak we understand the challenges of entering the property market, and we’re passionate about helping first home buyers in their quest. If you’re looking to secure your dream apartment, we’d love to lend our expertise in helping you find the perfect home.

We make purchasing a simple and fun process, so just give us a call or reply to this email to hear how we can help!

In the meantime, we hope you’re as excited about 2022 as we are. All the best with your year - we look forward to checking in with you!

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