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What to Keep in Mind When Buying Your First Apartment



Buying your first apartment is a momentous occasion. Equal parts nerve wracking and exciting, buying the right apartment can set you up for achieving your short and long term goals. 

The apartment hunting process can feel very overwhelming. As a way to ensure that you spend your hard earned money on the right apartment for you, your partner and your pet, it’s important to approach every open house and auction with a list of questions.

8 important questions to consider when buying your first apartment

The key to buying the perfect first apartment? It’s simple- arriving to inspect the apartment with a list of key questions. These questions cover a broad range of subjects and can be answered on your own or with the help of the real estate agent. 

While gathering a response to each question may take time, it’s important to be thorough up front. Being prepared helps you find the perfect apartment while also ruling out apartments that don’t match your needs. 

Question 1: What is the apartment’s orientation? 

Orientation is important. In fact, sometimes choosing the right aspect is even more important than buying an apartment with a view. When asking this question, take into consideration the light in winter and the sun in summer. 

Floor plans should indicate north, which will help you work out where the sun will rise and set in relation to any window or door openings. Having this knowledge will help to determine if the apartment lets in enough light for your needs and desires. 

Question 2: What are the strata fees?

When you buy an apartment it generally also means that you are buying into a strata scheme. In essence, this is a system of ownership wherein individuals own their apartments wholly and share ownership of the building’s common areas with the neighbours. 

Under a strata scheme, residents are charged annual levies to cover the cost of repairing and maintaining those common areas. These fees will generally depend on the size of the building and the facilities. Before buying, ask about the value of the fee to avoid surprise.  

Question 3: Are pets allowed?

Australians love their pets. In fact, we love them more than any other country does. Statistically speaking, up to 61% of Australian households have an animal companion. The most common of these are dogs (40%) followed by cats (27%).

Some apartment buildings have a blanket ban on animals while others may only accept certain breeds of animals. Before signing on the dotted line, ask about the animal policy to ensure that your furry friend is welcome in the building. 

Question 4: Will the apartment be conducive to owning a pet?

If the apartment building does allow pets, it’s important to objectively assess whether or not  the apartment is suitable for a pet. This includes everything from looking at the floorboards and determining if pet nails would scratch them to determining if there is enough space for a dog or cat to walk around comfortably. 

Question 5: Does the apartment have sufficient outside space?

If the inside of the apartment is able to house a pet comfortably and realistically, turn your attention to the outside. Does the apartment have a balcony? Does the building have shared access to a covered outdoor space? If the answers are no, you may not be able to buy the apartment as your pet has nowhere to go to the toilet and be protected from harsh weather.

Question 6: What are the nearby facilities like?

In most cases, apartment living means learning to function with less space. If this is the case, before buying, you may want to consider the apartment’s access and proximity to things like outdoor spaces, transport, dining and entertainment facilities. 

Question 7: Does the apartment have a designated car space?

Another important question revolves around car spaces. In and around apartment buildings, car spaces are in short supply. It’s always best to look for a unit with a designated car space on the title. If you don’t own a car, asking about the access to public transport is paramount.

Question 8: Are there any planned developments happening nearby?

Future developments that block your view or sunlight coming into the apartment is not ideal. Instead of buying the apartment and hoping for the best, be proactive and ask the local council about any development plans in the short or long term future. 

Buying your first apartment 

When it comes time to buy your first apartment, it’s important to be prepared. The excitement and nervousness that surrounds the whole venture may work to cloud your judgement. 

To safeguard against this, visit every apartment with a checklist full of questions. Well rounded and all encompassing, this type of checklist could save you from buying the wrong apartment and ultimately steer you in the direction of your dream place.