What to consider before buying an apartment
Find the right building type
Generally speaking, there are two types. There are low-density blocks (eg. three levels with nine apartments) that are often older. The plus side is they usually have larger floor plans and separate kitchens, so more internal space, but may have communal laundries and only stairs, no lifts.
Then there are apartments in high-density developments. Usually smaller, but newer, they often have more energy-efficient appliances and other lifestyle features like pools, gyms and tennis courts. But you will also have 400 neighbours.
Know your neighbourhood
Apartment living is all about convenience, so what kind of amenity do the building and its surroundings offer? Is there a supermarket and cafe on the ground floor? Or how far will you have to walk for the nearest everyday essentials?
Are pets allowed? If so, how close is the nearest dog-friendly park? What kind of security, if any, is there?
Drivers, check there’s a designated parking space on the title. If you’re in the CBD, will your guests have any other option besides one-hour on-street parking? If there is visitor parking, how is that managed? How close is public transport? Or if you ride, what are the bike storage options?
Pick your priorities
Buying an apartment is just like buying a house. “Location, location, location” matters, for your own enjoyment, capital growth and, if you’re an investor, appeal to tenants. Low-quality stock may feel like a bargain but if you wouldn’t want to live in it, what makes you think a tenant would? It’s a renters market right now and vacant apartments don’t yield any return.
Orientation and ventilation. Is it north-facing? What kind of sunlight will you get? How wide do the windows open?
The higher up, the bigger a problem wind becomes on balconies. Some buildings will have Owners Corporations Rules rules about what you can put on the balcony, too. You might need permission to put plants or furniture there or be forbidden from storing bikes or drying washing.
How secure are those million-dollar views? Check with the council to make sure another tower isn’t planned for next door that will block your sightlines and drag down value.
Research the developer and builder, especially when buying off-the-plan. Are they reputable? Look for testimonials but also ask on socials – what have your friends heard or experienced?
Australian Building Standards (or the BCA) are the minimum. Ask the developer how and where have they exceeded those standards? Especially with materials used for the walls, ceilings and windows (important for soundproofing)
Check for obvious issues, like cracks in walls or mould, but also pay for a building inspection.