Apartment Buying Do's and Don'ts

The proposed unitary plan is outlining actions to increase the density of urban Auckland. This means more Aucklanders will be expected to live in apartments and potentially moving away from the stereotypical kiwi home with a sun deck for BBQs and a nice backyard for games of backyard cricket.

Even though this move might not please many Aucklanders, it is what is needed to ease the urban sprawl and deal with the increasing population in New Zealand’s biggest city.

So, is this the right time to look into buying apartments? And how does one go about buying one? Well, we’ve done the hard work to find out how to go about buying an apartment and what kind of gotchas you need to be aware of.

Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts of buying an apartment that you should keep in mind while you’re out hunting for your next home.

Do’s

  • Get assistance from your mortgage broker or banker on the lending criteria for apartments . Most banks have stringent criteria for giving out money to buy apartments, so make sure you find out how this works and work closely with a banker or a broker during the buying process.
  • Be clear on what kind of additional expenses you will have on top of your mortgage repayments . Most apartments have a body corporate fee to cover the maintenance costs of shared areas in the apartment. On average, this is about $5,000 a year, but this can vary depending on the location and size of your apartment. Make sure you understand what the body corporate levy includes and take this into account when you’re doing you’re budgeting.
  • Read the body corporate minutes . This provides insight into how the building is managed and if/when any potential upgrades to the building will take place. If the document is too long or you don’t understand something, it is worth getting a lawyer to check it.
  • Be clear on whether you need car parking, and if so, how many spots ? Car parking is almost always not included with an apartment. This is usually an additional expenditure that many people forget about and it will almost certainly come and bite you in the rear end if you don’t plan well. Buy the number of spots you will need now and in the near future. If you need extra spots in the future, you can buy one at that stage but you might have to pay more.
  • Do your research into the plans and builders if you’re buying off the plans . Buying off the plans is great, you get a brand new apartment and a chance to customise it. However, we’ve all heard of building nightmares where the builder walks off the job for some reason. Make sure the builder you’re trusting has a good reputation.

Don’ts

  • Don’t buy a leasehold unless you know what you’re getting into . Put simply, a freehold apartment means you own the apartment and a share of the land that it is on. Leasehold means you own the apartment but are leasing a share of the land from the owner. This make leasehold properties much cheaper but you are also missing out on appreciating land values.
  • Don’t neglect legal due diligence. Buying an apartment involves more legal contracts than a normal house, more so for leasehold apartments. Without proper due diligence of the contracts you are signing, you may get yourself into a bit of a pickle. If you are not good with paperwork get someone to help you out, you will not regret it.

Now that you know how to buy an apartment, calculate how much the repayments for your dream apartment will be and compare interest rates from New Zealand's leading banks.