Finding your dream home or investment property in a strata scheme is an incredibly exciting step, but is it the right option for you? When strata schemes are inefficiently managed they can cause extra stress, but when they work well they can be very cost-effective and cohesive. To find out which one you’re potentially buying into, remember to ask these five questions.
- Can I please see the pre-purchase inspection report?
It’s a sensible idea to ask your solicitor to obtain a Section 184 Certificate (previously called a Section 109 Certificate) for the strata property you’re looking at from the strata manager. This document includes current finances and insurance cover for your shared property, as well as a history of levies for your unit and all forthcoming payments due. Basically, it shows the status of key information for your strata scheme that you need to know about. The document is so important that some buyers will enter a clause in their contract that makes the purchase subject to the findings of the report.
- How much will I be paying in levies?
This is one of the big questions you’ll want to ask when looking through the Section 184 Certificate. Levies are the regular payments that owners make towards the management and upkeep of common property in the strata scheme, such as roofs or corridors. Will you be able to afford the current levies as stated on the documentation? Would you be able to afford a little more in case costs go up, or there’s an unexpected repair that needs to be covered by a special levy?
- What condition is the building and property currently in?
The levies set out in the strata scheme’s documentation may seem low, but if the property is old or in a state of disrepair you will want to consider how that may impact on future payments. If the roof of the apartment block looks like it will need an upgrade soon, you will be partially responsible for that cost as an owner. Proactive strata managers will be planning ahead when it comes to predicted maintenance and managing costs so that owners won’t be slugged with a huge bill all at once.
- How do you find living here?
One of the fastest and easiest ways to find out how well the strata scheme is managed is to speak with other residents on the property. Knock on the door and politely ask them how they find the area and the management of their strata scheme. Are there any ongoing arguments over common property? Your potantial neighbours may or may not be willing to share this information but if they are, you could be making a much more informed decision.
- Will I be able to have a pet?
Whether you have a furry friend already or are planning to get one while living at the new property, it’s a good idea to check now whether your new strata scheme’s by-laws would allow for the keeping of pets – and how strict these rules are. If the by-laws do allow pets you’ll still need to keep noise and mess to a minimum to ensure you’re not upsetting any other residents. Be a considerate pet owner and you should be fine.