Apartment living across Melbourne has been booming for several years now and is set to grow further. Current information suggests that there’ll be up to 30,000 apartments built in our city over the next two years.
While a large percentage of apartment buyers will be investors, there will also be thousands who will buy and move in to an inner city or Melbourne CBD apartment between now and the end of the year.
For owner occupiers moving into an apartment for the first time, it can be an exciting lifestyle change – low maintenance, a ready-made community, perhaps even the attractions of the city on your doorstep. But it can also be a big adjustment. In most cases, thorough pre-purchase research is the key to living harmoniously in an apartment complex.
Many apartments are guided by an owners corporation (previously known as a body corporate), which manages the common property in an apartment block. If you are doing the research yourself, go to the section 32 statement – which must be provided to potential buyers – and view the owners corporation costs and other details provided. You can also request further information from the agent, who will either be able to provide it, or ask for it from the vendor.
Some common questions include: have there been disputes about parking, rubbish bins or gardens – which are the most common causes of disharmony? And have any of the owners been reluctant to spend on maintenance or capital works? Also, ask for financial statements and minutes of the most recent annual meeting of the owners corporation, and any other minutes that might be available.
It is also vital to request, and read, the owners corporation rules. Although there are standard “model” rules, owners corporations can set their own and in some buildings these run to 30 pages. They can cover everything from permitted blind colours to days you could move in or have tradesmen call, or whether you can hang washing on the balcony.
REIV president Neville Sanders is the state manager for a large owners corporation management firm and he warns that people get caught up in the excitement of buying their new apartment and read the rules later. It is then they discover that life in a shared living environment may not be for them.
Finally, try to meet other residents in the block, and ask the normal questions you would if you were purchasing a suburban home. For instance, are there any noisy neighbours? And what potential do they see for price growth for apartments in the block? Armed with the best information, apartment living can be the right move – and just the answer for those wanting to live as close as possible to our great city.