If you’re thinking about buying an apartment, we have put together 10 questions that will give you a real insight into what a building is like to live in. If at all possible, you should ask to view the apartment with the apartment owner. If you are shown around by the letting agent, they will know very little about the apartment. If this can’t happen, you could send these questions to the letting agent if you are interested in the apartment after viewing:
1. Have there been any complaints from the neighbours or about the neighbours?
The people you live next door to are very important. This will have to be disclosed by the seller to your solicitor, but wouldn’t you rather know now about an issue rather than paying your solicitor to find this out. Also, if the seller tells you no and then declares an issue, you are alerted to a problem and have good grounds to pull out of the purchase.
2. Do you know of any apartments that have been broken into?
You want to know about how safe the building is. When you get there, before calling the person who is showing you round check if the front door to the block is locked. If you can get in anyone can. When you walk to the apartment check out everyone’s front doors. Look for damaged locks or damaged wood around the locks. Front doors tell a lot about a building.
3. Have there been any cars broken into over the last year at the site?
Ask the question and see what the response is.
4. Can you show me the parking space?
This is really important. You can check the car park out for damaged cars and broken glass on the floor. You also want to make sure the parking space is adequate. Imagine buying and then not being able to get your car in the space.
5. Do you know the cleaner/caretaker at the site?
A well-run building will have the same site staff. If the seller knows the cleaner/caretaker, then this is an additional level of security and presence at the site.
6. Have you moved or changed any of the walls in the apartment?
Leasehold properties have many rules, one being you can’t change the layout without permission. Your solicitor will wrap this up, but you don’t want to get weeks into a purchase for it to fall over on these types of issues. If they have moved anything ask if they have the landlord’s permission in writing. If not, move on.
7. Have you changed the kitchen or bathroom?
Again, often these require permission. If the bathroom or kitchen look gleaming, check if permission was sought.
8. Have you replaced the laminate flooring?
Some leases also require permission to change the flooring or have a covenant saying no hard floors. Ask what process was applied before they changed the flooring.
9. What recycling services are available at the site?
A well-run building will have full recycling services and additions such as clothes banks.
10. Who is the managing agent for the building?
Find out who the company are who charge the service charge. Once you know this do some research online. We know lots of people who bought into really badly run buildings and were then stuck with solving the issue and changing this company. You are buying your home, not an argument generator.
Ask some or all of these questions and you’ll get a really good feel for the building. You’re buying an apartment which is part of a much bigger building. How the building operates and looks directly impacts on you. It’s the most expensive item you’ll buy in your life, so do your homework first and then reap the rewards going forward.