Apartment Buying Knowhow

The criteria to evaluate when buying an apartment are similar to those when buying a house – location and aspect, for example. Yet experienced apartment buyers say that there are things to consider that aren’t always obvious the first time round. *

Big or Small Building?

Some apartment buildings are large while some have as few as four apartments in the block. Size is worth considering, depending on what sort of lifestyle you are looking for. Larger buildings often have more facilities – lifts, pools, outdoor recreation areas and gyms for example. These may be of interest to you as a buyer but they can also be expensive to maintain, so make sure there are enough apartments in the building to share the cost. If the building is big enough, extra costs are more readily absorbed and annual fees may not be much different from those in a smaller building with fewer residents to share expenses. Some residents enjoy larger buildings because they can be more anonymous and there is less likelihood of developing individual hostilities.

One of the disadvantages of being up high is that it is difficult to get the windows cleaned as an expensive cherry picker is needed and rarely justified in terms of expense, but on the other hand, those who live in busy locations enjoy a more tranquil lifestyle away from street noise – and enjoy views and light that may be lacking on lower floors. Being up high has the advantage of being more secure too – no need to worry about the barred windows so commonplace on the ground, especially in densely populated inner city areas.

Public Areas

Whether the building is big or small, consider the condition of the public areas – dirty lifts or foyers, graffiti and other signs of neglect indicate a lack of maintenance – and no matter how upmarket the individual apartment you are buying, may not represent a good investment. In fact you don’t want to end up with the best apartment in a scruffy building (equivalent of the best house in the worst street) as this may affect the value of the property.

Building Manager?

If you are buying in a big building, consider whether there is a caretaker, or building manager. While a concierge is usually only employed in more upmarket buildings, it is not uncommon to find a building manager who lives onsite and is responsible for supervising maintenance of public areas. This can mean the difference between a building that looks neglected and scruffy and something that may not be swish and new but is still smart and tidy. It is especially important where parking is undercover rather than lockup as there is someone to refer to if you find someone has commandeered your allotted carspace.


Look for units with more than one wall of windows – three is excellent as the apartment is likely to have only one common wall if any (the fourth wall will probably be the access point).

Distance from Lift

In a large building, consider the distance from the lift; if an apartment is a long way from the lift in a narrow dark hallway, or access is difficult or convoluted (as in some complexes with several buildings) this may reduce quality of life and affect re-sale.

* For the purposes of this article, we will assume that you are buying into a strata title building (company title is less common and banks don’t lend on them readily) as the differences between these forms of ownership has been gone into in an earlier article.

Source: Local Property News (2010) Apartment Buying Knowhow