To buy a house or an apartment is a question that may cross your mind when you are looking to buy a property, particularly your first property.
The following factors can be important to your decision-making process:
Traditionally apartments are a more affordable option for those looking to live closer to the city. Living closer to the city provides a lifestyle for those who enjoy going out as it’s closer to trendy bars, cafes, and restaurants. If you work in the CBD, proximity to work reducing commute times can also be appealing. Apartments generally have lower maintenance requirements and therefore costs, which can suit those with a busy lifestyle and help your wallet.
If you prefer living further away from the hustle and bustle of the city and want to enjoy open spaces, parks and a community feeling a house in a more suburban setting may better suit your lifestyle. The further away from a city centre you go, houses increase in supply and become more affordable, giving you more options. As working from home has become more accessible, a home office is often easier to set up in a house due to the extra space a house provides.
Space is also a key lifestyle consideration for some. There are normally more rooms in a house which can provide quiet or creative spaces whereas apartments often offer a more open plan living. You may also need to get creative with storage solutions in an apartment.
Most importantly, what is your budget? How much can you borrow? This will probably be the most important factor affecting what and where you can buy.
When looking at an apartment you also need to factor in the quarterly strata fees as well as contributing to the buildings capital works fund if maintenance is needed. Upgrades to a house may be of a larger scale so potentially more expensive. Consider whether any upgrades are urgent or can wait a while for you to save to fund them. You will also pay council rates if you live in a house or apartment.
It’s ideal to evaluate your future plans and how the property you buy will accommodate them. Is this property your forever home? If it isn’t, you may be willing to make compromises on the suburb and house amenities knowing you’ll be moving on. If you are looking for a forever home, you may be willing to spend a bit more to buy in a suburb you can see yourself in for a long time and allocate more to renovating if the property needs work.
If you are looking to start a family, a house can give your more indoor and outdoor space and the option to extend. If you are looking at buying an apartment, you might need to buy one with an extra bedroom/s.
You might also be interested in the suburb and its growth trends which can be obtained through a suburb report. If you are interested in capital growth in an apartment the location is important, look to see if the area has a high supply which could weaken growth over the long term.
Buying an apartment
If you are looking to buy an apartment or unit in a Strata Scheme, it's recommended you read the Strata Title Report as it will provide an overview of the financial situation of the building, upcoming work, projected expenses, disputes amongst other Strata Title holders and other important information. This provides an overview of additional costs or problems you could encounter if you buy into the building.
The number of apartments in a building may also be worth considering. The greater the number of apartments increases the mix of owner occupiers or renters which could mean more potential conflicts at strata. The Strata Title Report provides minutes of the Annual General Meeting and any other meetings which can give an overview of any potential conflicts.
Occasionally, you might find Company Title apartments instead of the usual Strata Scheme apartments. With Company Title apartments, a company owns the entire block, and you purchase shares that grant access to a specific apartment, rather than purchasing the apartment itself. It is recommended that you read the Company Constitution outlining the rules and regulations for that block - each Company Title Constitution is different, and each can impose different restrictions on issues such as renting or renovating.
It’s also important to note reports are not public information so you may need written permission to review a report from a real estate agent. The reports may also take a few days to arrive, and you must pay for them.
Buying a house
Before you buy a house, a pre purchase property inspection and report can help you understand if the property you wish to buy has any structural damage or issues that could cause problems down the track. Checking for pest damage at the same time is also helpful. You will have to pay for a pre purchase property inspection and pest inspection.
Consider viewing the property at different times of the day to gauge local traffic, potential noise and get a feel for the street and neighbours. You might also want to time your commute to work or school to see if it is manageable.
Viewing your potential property purchase, immediately after or during wet weather, can also be of benefit and help to identify water ingress issues before you hand over your money.