What makes a good apartment

Peter ChittendenNovember 18, 20140 min read

Apartment living is popular and apartments are also sought after investments and today the location, price range and style of apartment you can buy is varied.

So I found myself asking, given all of the options available, what makes a good apartment?

So I spent a little time having a look at a number of chatroom and information sites where other people were asking just this question. I found potential buyers, investors, people looking to rent and parents looking to buy for their kids, asking this question, sharing their views, experiences and their concerns. What I found was a pattern of comments and advice that soon came down to about fourteen points.

Many of the points were common and we would recognise them here in Sydney, or indeed in any city. Some concerns like noise and parking and access to a local supermarket came up quite a few times.

I thought that I would share with you the results of my personal research, because I think it’s a good idea to keep reminding ourselves about what buyers, tenants and investors are looking for when they come into the market, no matter how robust conditions might currently be. Here are some of the key points I discovered.

Upfront, having apartments that were soundproof was a clear concern, and it’s not an uncommon point of discussion when taking a project to market. Clearly people want peace and quite when they are at home. Then came a comment about water pressure, it’s one that does not come up that frequently, but again it’s an important day to day issue. I do know of comments however in buildings with central hot water systems that it’s sometimes necessary to run taps for a few minutes to get hot water to the shower or kitchen sink – something to think about.

However in third place I found repeated comments about noise, street noise, traffic noise and pool noise, there’s been some discussion about noise pollution and as urban areas become far more concentrated clearly it’s a point of concern. Personal safety was also a high-priority issue, secure buildings and neighbourhoods are seen as a plus.

Now the next one did surprise me. Many people buying into an established building were trying to establish if there were short-term leases on offer. This was seen as a big negative and a possible indication of poor management. Most people believed that these buildings should be avoided. This a recent concern in Sydney and an issue that needs a lasting solution. Residential apartment buildings are clearly not hotels in the minds of the community.

Then I came to a very familiar topic and one that got lots of attention, parking. The topic was a concern not only about secure parking in particular buildings, but also easy access to visitor parking and easy on-street parking for deliveries or service calls. Day time parking was an issue in areas with clearways and the restrictions they impose on both residents and visitors. All of which is very familiar.

Ample storage was another pointer, storage that was clean, easy to access and not damp! Then I saw many comments about looking for buildings that allow pets, so that’s an area we seem to have right in Sydney, where most buildings welcome pets and it’s seen as a sensible policy.

The appearance and up-keep of an apartment building was covered in many comments, however the main concern was the ventilation of common areas, in particular the hallways leading to apartments. Buyers were unimpressed with cooking smells, stale air and artificial light. Clearly all common areas need to be fresh, with some natural light and good ventilation top of the list.

Talking about design, buildings and apartments that were well designed to cope with high summer temperatures, or cold winters were seen as a plus, environmental planning for shifting weather patterns is clearly on the minds of apartment dwellers. Nobody wants to come home to an apartment that feels like an oven in summer or a fridge in winter. Natural shading and cross ventilation is seen as a good option here by many chat participants.

Then I came to three common pointers regarding location. These were, look for apartments within walking distance of a supermarket, so there’s not always a need to drive. Be close to public transport or easy road and motorway access and the third golden rule of location for apartment dwellers was access to varied areas of open space, parks and wilderness.

But when looking to buy into or rent an apartment it was this last point that I thought was the most telling. That was to look for buildings that have clean and well ordered garbage rooms, because this means good management and above all thoughtful residents.

I found my chatroom visit very reassuring and helpful and worth sharing.

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.
Peter Chittenden
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