Factors to Consider When Buying a Unit

Not all units have been created equal and you should therefore make sure to take care and do your homework before taking the plunge. This section will focus on some of the issues that you will have to consider. It will move from more general considerations to the evaluation of a specific development/unit.

Location

Where you buy a property is obviously a very personal decision influenced by considerations unique to your own circumstances. There are, however, some general guidelines that you should perhaps take into account when making this decision. In the case of units it is advisable to buy in areas that are relatively close to the CBD while at the same time avoiding areas that are simply overrun with units. This can be quite a difficult balancing act to achieve but a good location with a bit of ‘scarcity value? thrown in can be a powerful combination in terms of long-term capital growth.

Dwelling types

Some developments offer nothing more than hundreds of identical ?cookie cutter? units, a pattern that is then repeated in the development next door and so on. Apart from the fact that living in such an environment can be slightly depressing you should also know that buying into such a development is a move that is often fraught with risk. The main reason for this is that they are often targeted at overseas investors who may decide to ?cut their losses and run? at the slightest hint of economic trouble, something which would obviously drive down values across the board. You should therefore take care to select a development with a wide variety of dwelling types.

Rate of owner occupation

It is quite difficult to determine the rates of owner occupation for different areas and developments but it is a bit of research that you would do well to conduct. High rates of owner occupation is often a good quality indicator since it means that people made buying decisions based on their own preferences and needs rather than merely buying an investment property for other people to live in.

Local amenities

It is almost never worth it to ‘save? a bit of money by buying a property in an area that lacks basic services and infrastructure. Do some basic research do determine whether the unit you are interested in is within easy reach of schools, retail complexes, entertainment areas and public transport.

Streetscape and landscaping

None of us would want to spend our days in unappealing and noisy surroundings. You should therefore make sure that the unit you are considering is not located on an excessively busy road (visiting during different times of the day is perhaps a good idea) and that the development and the local area are as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

Number of bedrooms and floor space

Although deciding how much space you are going to need is obviously down to individual preferences it is always a good idea to go for larger properties as far as long-term capital growth is concerned. If you are buying for investment purposes you should also note that having more than two bedrooms can be a definite advantage in attracting prospective tenants.

Layout and use of space

Spend some time evaluating the utilisation of space within the unit. A modern fitted kitchen, open plan living areas and ample storage areas are obviously big plusses.

Aspect and lighting

Take your compass, or at least your sense of direction along! North facing properties get more natural sunlight which makes for a more pleasant living environment.

Parking

Having your own dedicated parking space, or better yet your own garage, can save a lot of hassle and will remove a potential source of friction with other residents.

Projected costs

The most important cost to consider when buying a unit is the levy charged by the owner’s corporation. Levies can differ widely between developments and those that are set at excessively high levels can add a significant amount to your monthly outgoings. Levies that are very low can, on the other hand, lead to the owner’s corporation being chronically short of cash translating into regular ‘special levies?.

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