Body corporate rules, close neighbours and parking spaces are all factors to consider when buying an apartment

Apartments are the ideal first home or property investment, but they do come with challenges. This is the view of Mike Greeff, CEO of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate, who warns that discerning buyers need to look beyond the price tag and really assess the pros and cons before signing on the dotted line.

Here’s a checklist to help you buy an apartment that is just right for you:

Have a good understanding of the body corporate rules and regulations

What is a body corporate?

The Body Corporate is the collective name given to the owners of the units within an apartment block. The Body Corporate is there to manage and maintain the property, which includes common property like the driveways, communal green spaces, swimming pool etc as well as exclusive use areas.

It is also important to know what your monthly levies cover

Levies often cover necessary expenses incurred by the Body Corporate such as upkeep, the running and repair of the property, rates, and water. They also tend to cover insurance, sewerage and security for the block.

Consider asking the following questions to gain a better understanding of the rules and regulations:

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• Is the apartment block pet-friendly? If so, which pets are/are not allowed?
• Are you permitted to paint/renovate your unit?
• What maintenance are you, as the owner liable for and what will be covered by the Body Corporate?
• How often is maintenance done?

Check out nearby facilities

It’s essential to consider nearby facilities before you purchase a unit. It’s important to ensure that you are within easy access to supermarkets, main routes and other necessary amenities for your convenience.

For example, should your body corporate allow pets and you have a dog, you will want to have access to an open area, so your dog is not cooped up all day.

Should you be purchasing an apartment as an investment, being within close proximity to amenities is a bonus for potential tenants.

Look for car parking space

Parking bays are often in short supply, especially in the apartment blocks that are close or within the CBD. It is best to always look for a unit that has a designated car space.

Should a parking bay not be available, familiarise yourself with the parking situation, so that you can guide visitors in the right direction whenever they come over.

Consider storage

Apartment owners must be savvy when it comes to using space because it is so limited. Some larger complexes offer additional storage, however if this is not available, it would be useful to look at other options.
Alternatively, you can get creative with some simple storage hacks, or purge some of your belongings before moving in.

Meet the neighbours

You can’t control who your neighbours are, but it’s important to remember that they can have a big impact on your lifestyle.

Set up as many walkthroughs as possible before signing the contract and in doing so, you will have a much better understanding of how your neighbours’ lifestyles might affect yours.
For example, if you’re looking for peace and quiet, moving into a student-friendly block might not be right for you.

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Structure and layout

The structural integrity of the building and the layout of the apartment should be key considerations for any buyer.
When inspecting a unit, look for red flags such as cracking, mould or broken sealants. Check whether the apartment has carpets and what the walls are made of, too, so that you can get a good idea of how the unit will insulate noise.
Getting approval to renovate apartments is difficult, especially if you are making big changes, so if you are not happy with the design, then it is best to look elsewhere.

Additional factors to consider when purchasing an apartment:

• Noise – can you hear people in other apartments?
• Odours – can you smell animals, dampness, or rubbish?
• Light – will you have access to a window or balcony with natural sunlight?
• Air – does your apartment have enough windows and free-flowing air

Purchasing any property can be a daunting experience, but it is also an exciting one! Make sure that you have a trusted agent at your side to guide you through the process and make it as seamless as possible.