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What is a strata title property and should I buy one?

October 31, 2020

If you’re looking at buying an apartment, you should be aware that a property of this kind is officially called a ‘strata title’.

This basically means that you will own a share of that apartment building, along with all the other owners.

As a strata title owner you are allowed to use the shared common areas of the apartment building, such as a communal garden, roof, staircases and driveways.

Strata title ownership is pretty common these days, especially in high density housing areas close to a city or in the CBD. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why people are turning to strata title housing and some things to be aware of before you buy.

Advantages of living in a strata title property

Affordability

In general, apartments are more affordable than stand-alone houses since there’s no land involved. A one or two bedroom apartment can be the fraction of the cost of a house with a back garden.

young couple making breakfast in new apartment

The affordability of apartments makes them attractive to people with lower incomes looking to enter the property market. Utilities such as electricity, water and power also cost less to run in an apartment than in a house.

Low maintenance

Apartment living is great for people who don’t want to maintain a garden or mow a lawn, and a smaller interior space means less time cleaning.

If you have a balcony you can always create a low maintenance garden with pots of herbs and flowers to brighten up the space.

Any repairs or maintenance to the building are taken care of by the owners corporation (aka body corporate).

Great location

Apartments usually have a superior position close to or in the city, avoiding the need for a lengthy commute to work. They also have easy access to all city amenities such as transport, cafes, restaurants, bars, parks and shops.

Street parking may be limited if you live in an apartment but if everything is within walking distance you may not even have need of a car, saving you even more money in the long run.

Disadvantages of strata title property

Living in an apartment

While purchasing strata title has a lot of benefits, apartment living may not be for everyone. If you’re used to living in a house, then switching to an apartment can take some getting used to. Your neighbours are a lot closer in proximity, being above, below and right outside your window (and they may be noisy at times).

Even if the owners’ corporation of your building has rules in place for noise control, other buildings in the vicinity may not abide by the same rules.

If you wish to undertake major renovations to your apartment you may also first need to obtain approval from body corporate. Owners of heritage listed apartments may be restricted from knocking out walls or by the type of building materials approved for use.

block of new apartments at dusk

Owners corporation fees

The owners corporation for your building will charge an annual fee called a ‘strata levy’. This is your share of what it costs to run the building, for example maintenance, repairs, gardening, cleaning, insurance, administration and more.

A large apartment complex may charge less in annual levies than a smaller apartment building, as there are more owners to contribute to covering the costs.

But then again, the levy can be a lot more if the building has amenities like a fitness centre and a pool to maintain.

Make sure you find out the levy fee for the apartment before you purchase, to avoid any nasty surprises when the annual bill arrives.

As an apartment owner you can also be at the mercy of increasing levy bills each year, especially if you live in an older building that requires a lot of maintenance.

Weighing up the pros and cons of strata title

Always do your research thoroughly when buying strata title so you know all the fees involved and what you can and can’t do in regard to renovations.

But don’t be put off an apartment because of the annual levy, when you compare it with the cost of maintaining, repairing and insuring a house you’ll often find it can be quite reasonable.

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