A growing number of people in our community are choosing to buy apartments over houses, believing they offer a comfortable and utterly desirable lifestyle. The lure of apartments is completely understandable. But how do you find the perfect place without the whole experience turning into Survivor in Darlinghurst or a financial nightmare?

Fortunately there’s a great new book called Apartment Living -“ The Complete Guide To Buying, Renting And Surviving In Apartments by Sue Williams and Jimmy Thomson which offers some candid and cautionary advice about finding a perfect and profitable apartment to call your home -“ without the headaches.

Here are some tips:

– Be clear about what you want. Buying your perfect apartment is a simple mix of time, effort and local knowledge. Take a look at a number of apartments with different price tags and see what you get for your money. Then be clear about exactly what you’re looking for.

– Take as much time as you need. Once you’ve worked out your priorities, don’t rush the process without considerable care. It can take months to find your perfect nest. Don’t buy a property because it looks reasonable but doesn’t really live up to your expectations. You will quickly regret the decision.

– Get to know the area. Drive around your new area at different times, particularly at night and during weekdays, listen to the noise and observe the type of people hanging around. You should also begin to get an idea of what to expect for your money in the area you want to live. And remember, don’t pay a million dollars in an area when the highest price paid is only half that.

– Choose the worst apartment in the best block. You can always renovate your apartment, but it’s much more difficult to turn an ugly block into something really desirable.

– How likely is it to hold or increase its value? You should try and look ahead and establish if your apartment is going to make you some good money. Warning signs can include too many apartments in one area or if the finishes are shoddy.

– Look at the kind of people you’ll be living with. Don’t take chances as it’s important that you move into a building that you feel matches your lifestyle. Check out who your neighbours will be and even chat to a few for some insider information.

– Examine the layout carefully. Go through the designs of the building if you’re buying off plan or visit the strata manager for the layout of the existing building. You don’t want your bedroom near the lift well or backing onto your neighbour’s lounge room.

– Is it strata or company title? There’s a big difference here. Strata title means you individually own everything inside your apartment and own shares of all the common property. With company title, you effectively buy shares in a company. This means the company owns the whole building, and your shareholding gives you permission to live in a specific apartment. So carefully think about what you want and how this may influence your investment return.

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