Picture this: You’re in the market for a new apartment. You’ve picked up a range of brochures for various developments in inner-city Sydney and are using them to help you decide which one would suit you best. You are aided in this by the glossy photographs featured in the brochures illustrating the type of lifestyle you can expect should you become an owner.

The images are generally pretty predictable. There are always sexy, apparently successful people engaged in conversation, sipping cocktails in a cool bar or on the balcony, or drinking coffee at the trendy local caf?There’s likely to be a shot with exotic flowers in the foreground with the backdrop of an exciting minimalist interior. Often there’ll be photos of a nearby park -“ provided it’s not Belmore -“ or a family strolling along the harbour’s edge.

Glossy brochures represent a fantasy world that marketers create to seduce the buyer. They are often beautiful objects, almost worthy of display on coffee tables themselves, and they work as powerful tools for marketers to sell lifestyles. It is amazing how beguiling these tools can be, but do we really believe the hype? Can buying an apartment possibly make you cool? Will it be the key to financial and romantic success? Nobody really believes that, do they?

By far the most absurd image I have seen in such promotional brochures was used to promote the sale of some apartments in Surry Hills. It featured a photo of a young couple walking their child along on a Shetland pony. Somehow we were supposed to believe that living in this apartment block would make that kind of country lifestyle possible -“ right in the heart of the city.

I guess the thing to do when you’re looking to invest in real estate is to be able to see beyond the glamour and the gloss. Often it doesn’t take much investigation to reveal that it’s all skin deep. Brochures are a way for developers to gloss over the less attractive aspects of their developments, such as poor acoustics, low ceilings or lack of open space. Always insist on having a close inspection, at least of a display apartment, and get information on the quality of construction, types of finishes and room dimensions.

Also, if you’re buying off the plan, beware of any clauses in the contract allowing for variations in the floor plans that may occur during construction. This is included to protect the developer in case of poor coordination between architect, structural engineer and other trades. If you’re unlucky you may find a column where you were planning to put your baby grand.

There’s no harm in indulging in a little fantasy where your new apartment is concerned, and chances are you will go on to experience a life of unprecedented glamour and success in your new home. Just make sure you’ve dealt with the serious issues before you part with your deposit.

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