How to buy into Strata in the 2019 landscape

How to buy into Strata in the 2019 landscape – buying a new home or investment property requires careful consideration. Whether you are considering purchasing a house, apartment or townhouse, you should allow the same amount of consideration for each.

There are many perks to living in a Strata property. From the sense of community, to the shared maintenance costs and often being close to the CBD. However, it is important to ensure you are buying into the right property for you.

What should I do before I buy into Strata?

Off the plan sales
Often, Strata units are advertised for sale before the building has been constructed. Buying a unit at this stage is known as ‘buying off the plan’. When buying off the plan, you enter a contract before you have seen the finished product.

If you are buying off the plan it is important that you research the builder and the developer. This will ensure that you get a sense of the quality and overall feel of what your scheme may be like post development.

Read the by-laws
By-laws are a particular set of rules that are specific to each scheme. The by-laws regulate the behaviors on common property as well as within lots, such as parking, pets and noise restrictions.

It is important to read the by-laws so you are aware of the rules for your scheme and are familiar with what you may need to ask permission for if you decide to become an owner in the scheme.

Conduct a Strata search
You can conduct a search or ask for copies of the Body Corporate/Owners corporation records. When asking for copies of records, you should come prepared and know what to ask for.

Some areas of interest may include:

  • Minutes of committee and general meetings. This will allow you to find out what decisions have been previously made by the Body Corporate/Owners Corporation.
  • Financial records. This will allow you to see how healthy the funds are.
  • Insurance policies. Viewing the insurance policy will allow you to find out what the policy covers and ensure it is current.
  • Contracts. Find out what contracts to which the Body Corporate/Owners corporation is a party. This could be contracts with caretakers, letting, Strata Management or lift maintenance.

How can I minimise the risk of purchasing an apartment with a defect?

Most schemes will experience some levels of defects in their lifetime. The chances of buying into a scheme with a major defect is small. However, there are some tips that you can follow to minimise the risk of purchasing an apartment with a major defect.

Buying an older apartment
When buying an older apartment, you can gather insights to how the building is holding up over the years. If major defects were likely to occur in a building, it is more likely that they would occur in the early years after completion.

Background research
Ensuring you conduct background research on a building can assist in avoiding buying into a building that may have a major defect. Many buyers get caught up in the location or the aesthetics of a property and forget to conduct enough research to ensure that they are making a smart investment.

Researching the builder and developer, having a building inspection completed and conducting a Body Corporate/Owners Corporation records search can assist in ensuring that the building you are buying into is free of any major defects.

Defects claims period
Buying into an apartment that is still within the defects claim period will ensure that any major defects that have risen will be covered by the developer. Quite often if you are buying into the building towards the later end of the 6-year period, any claims are likely to have already been lodged.

In New South Wales, buying a unit that is less than 6 years of age will still be within the defects claims period.

In Queensland, an owner can submit a complaint for structural defect work 6 years 6 months from the date when the work is completed. Once the defect is noticed, owners have 12 months to submit a complaint.

In Victoria, the claims limitation period is typically 3 months from the hand over period until 6 years from the date of completion.

Although the majority of strata properties are well maintained and functioning well, the best investment you can make is to ensure you conduct research into any building you are thinking of buying into.

At SSKB we work with committees to minimise the risk of any major defects occurring by ensuring that your property is properly maintained and run to a high standard. Click here to make the switch to SSKB today.

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