11.27.2017 Buying Tips

Apartment Or Terrace?

Apartment Or Terrace?

Many of the downsizers we meet are facing a dilemma: buy into a luxury apartment block or hunt for the perfect terrace that meets long-term lifestyle needs?

Here’s your guide to the pros and cons of each property type and the right questions to ask when looking for the perfect downsizer property.

Luxury apartments: Are they worth the annual costs?

Downsizer preferences are pushing up the luxury apartment market, increasing demand for higher quality, larger apartments across Sydney’s eastern suburbs. This type of property promises a long list of benefits beyond the luxury interiors. Many are also set in highly walkable locations that make the car obsolete and offer the simplified, lock-up-and-leave lifestyle that downsizers are focused on after managing a large family home.

Living up close and personal with your new neighbours can be a concern for some buyers who are used to a larger buffer zone. Strata levies can also be a worry for those unused to paying them, with most well-run apartment buildings charging upwards of around $2,500 per quarter. Added to this, prospective buyers often worry about body corporates placing limitations on renovations and other design decisions, which owners may not agree with.

But in a well-run strata block, you do get looked after – you won’t have to lift a finger in the communal areas, or even take the bins out. And your levies take care of many upkeep and maintenance issues for the building – from gardens, lifts and pools to plumbing, leaking roofs, window repairs and most structural issues.

Key questions to ask when considering luxury apartments include:

  • What are the annual strata levies – and what will I get for them?
  • What are the limits on the changes I can make to my apartment?
  • Do the bylaws allow pets?
  • Is the building well-run and are the finances in order?
  • In an off-the-plan or new building: do the builder and developer have a good reputation?
  • In an existing building: are there any major works planned that could require one-off special levies?

Terrace houses: Are they manageable over the long term?

Terrace houses offer a good deal more independence than apartments, with no neighbours above or below you, or common areas to factor in. Like any well-positioned apartment, many terraces also offer walkability and proximity to the lifestyle benefits that downsizers are keen to take advantage of when trading the suburbs for the city.

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But terraces also present their share of challenges. Single-level terraces, or semis, are much harder to find in the East than those with two floors, so downsizers may need to consider whether stairs will be manageable in future. Installing a lift or stair lift can be an option but may not always be worth the expense and compromise to your floor plan.

Key questions ask when considering a terrace include:

  • How old is the property?
  • Are there any major structural or ongoing maintenance issues?
  • Are there council-imposed limits on changes I can make?
  • Are there modifications I could make to support my lifestyle as I age?

Navigating the downsizer market in Sydney’s east

Deciding which type of property meets your particular downsizer needs is a highly personal choice, but you’ll want to weigh up location and lifestyle, as well as property type and your long-term financial goals when making the move.

There’s plenty for downsizers to consider as they make their move out of the family home. The good news as we head into 2018 is that Sydney prices are showing more sustainable and sensible growth, with the latest CoreLogic data showing an average price increase of just 0.2% across the city.

Sellers are still receiving very good prices, but buyers have a little more time to make their decision, putting downsizers in a good position to make a move.