How To Buy An Apartment

May 10th, 2019 - by Brad Gillespie

When you’ve made the decision to buy an apartment, there is a range of things to consider before signing on the bottom line.

We reveal the ins and outs of purchasing a unit in Sydney’s inner city.

What’s the difference between buying a house and a unit?

With figures from the latest Census revealing there is approximately one occupied apartment for every five occupied separate houses, it’s true that more and more Australians are getting into apartment living. But what are the real differences when it comes time to buy?

There are often two major factors that come into play when choosing an apartment over a traditional house: location and affordability. The cost of a three-bedroom apartment will, in most cases, be cheaper than a three-bedroom separate house in the same suburb. Moreover, council rates are usually much lower for apartments, which can factor into a buyer’s budget.

Then there’s location. Single professionals may choose to buy an apartment in the CBD so they can save on transport costs. Investors, on the other hand, may decide to buy up several units in a newly proposed suburban complex. A low maintenance lifestyle is also a drawcard. Just like traditional houses, there are all sorts of reasons for wanting to buy an apartment.

But there’s plenty to think about beyond cost and location.

The essentials: Apartment inspections

Just because an apartment isn’t as exposed to the elements as a house, that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the proper inspections. An apartment inspection is a must, as a thorough walk-through from a professional will reveal issues such as unit damage, flooring or ceiling problems, broken or missing fixtures, smoke detector checks, and more.

Similarly, a pest inspection will uncover any major problems or structural damage due to white ants (termites). This is crucial as you often can’t see the extent of white-ant damage with the naked eye, and what starts as a small infestation can quickly balloon, creating expensive problems down the road.

The good news? Most inspectors in Australia provide a combined building and pest inspection service, so you won’t have to pay for two separate reports.

Don’t forget about strata searches

Buying a property in a strata scheme building can sound intimidating, especially when you consider all the inclusions like body corporate, by-laws and committee meetings. But it’s actually a positive – and it’s there to protect your rights as an owner. There are more than 270,000 strata schemes in Australia, and in Sydney they account for more than half of residential sales and leases.

So how do you go about doing a strata search? You can either do it yourself or hire a professional. Sometimes it’s supplied with the contract for sale, but your solicitor or conveyancer can also help.

You’ll want to verify information like who owns the apartment, cost of quarterly levies, how the building is being managed, whether it’s solvent, any major works planned, and by-laws about pets and noise pollution.

Where do you want to buy?

Considering the current housing climate, making a profit may not be top of your list. However, the growth of a suburb should still play into your decision about where to buy an apartment.

Note that some inner-city suburbs, such as Alexandria in Sydney, are seeing a softening of growth due to an increased supply of apartments. However, over time capital growth in blue chip inner city areas should improve.

The process of buying

Unless you are buying in an old company title building - of which few remain in Sydney - the actual process of buying an apartment is pretty much the same as buying a house once you’ve done all the checks and research mentioned above.

You can read more about buying your first home here.

Looking to buy an apartment?

Whether you’re buying your first starter unit or looking to purchase a family home in the city, get in touch with me today and I can help you find the apartment of your dreams.