What to pay attention to when looking for an apartment

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Buying an apartment which answers to all your requirements and is located in a place particularly preferred by you is a dream you have nurtured for years. You, together with your family, have scraped enough and saved enough to finally buy such an apartment – a living space of your own, a tiny corner of the earth to build your loving nest.  In your enthusiasm you could almost be in a hurry to obtain your dream home. But a word of caution here. Do not rush through this process. 

Buying a property, small or big, requires long and hard considerations, not only for the immediate future but for next 10 or 15 years if not more. Thoroughly evaluate your current requirements and match them up with your future ones, as far as possible. Is this going to be your primary home or a secondary one purchased for occasional uses? 

It is not uncommon nowadays to purchase a second or third apartment in a different city which one frequents for business purposes, spending a part of the year, in the holiday season or as an investment. Sometimes, small apartments are bought as a gift to children for future uses like completing higher studies in a different city. These factors would affect your choices considerably. It is important for you to keep in mind the following important aspects to have due success in your apartment hunting process.

Living space

Analyse the real estate market prices. Bigger cities like Singapore experience a perennial demand. Soaring apartment prices is no longer news in these places. However, every locality within a city does not deserve the same prices. So consider your priorities before choosing a neighbourhood to begin your searches. An understanding about the prevailing market will help you to get your money’s worth as well. A new construction or an apartment within a listed property will always fetch higher prices. Find out what is the actual size of the apartment, sometimes termed as carpet area, you are getting within your budget and if that is sufficient to meet your requirements.

Advantages of the location

Do not disregard any location related advantages. See how far the building is from the local railway station, bus terminus or other points of public transport system even when you have no intention of using them. Proximity to local markets, cultural centres, library, public parks, pharmaceutical outlets and hospitals are always considered beneficial. Kids at home may prefer less travelling time to and from the schools. 

You and your spouse would prefer less travelling distance to the office. Closeness to local restaurants would do no harm. Accomplishing all these may not always be possible. So prioritise your necessities but do not ignore them altogether. If this is supposed to be an investment opportunity for you, then buying an apartment in a prime location will be extra helpful.

Condition of the apartment

If it is an old structure, then the condition of the apartment as well as the building it is housed in must be carefully scrutinised. Check the history of the building to get more information about the renovation it has gone through. For newly built structures, see if the materials in use are of high quality and capable to withstand reasonable wear and tear. Check for any structural weaknesses, dampness or crumbling walls, electrical wiring and plumbing that require immediate remediation. 

If you are moving in to an old apartment you may need to refurbish the whole space, modernise the kitchen and bathroom, demolish or establish internal partitions and walls and give a coat of paint to the entire area. Include the charges for these renovation works within your budget. Seek clarification about the major renovation you are allowed to perform and the timing if any.

Assess the neighbourhood

 Terrace by URBANA 15
URBANA 15

Vivienda en Plaza Euskadi Nº9, Bilbao.

URBANA 15

Don a detective’s hat for some time. Have as much information as possible about the neighbourhood. Do not be nosy, but do not disregard any information about potential sources of trouble, noisy neighbours etc. These may turn out to be of considerable concern at a later date. See if there is any on site building manager whom you can approach to in case of any concerns. Also check how much social interaction is possible and necessary with your neighbours. As an apartment owner you may be expected to participate in many community activities. Prior information about these would help in appropriately preparing for the same.

Evaluate the utilities and conveniences

See if you would get uninterrupted water and power supply. Seek a more energy efficient building within your budget. This will yield long term benefits and considerably reduce your recurring costs. Find out about the alterations you can introduce to make your apartment more environment friendly. Small changes like opening up the windows, installing skylights, more efficient heating and ventilating system can produce massive benefits. 

See if a separate water meter is installed for every apartment owner. Also, if the building has water purification system installed. Houses in tropical areas must have roofs and walls properly treated to reduce moisture and heat in the interior of the building.

Safety and security

Consider securing an apartment within a gated condominium or cluster of buildings with 24 hour security coverage. Ensure that the building adheres to existing fire safety standards and have adequate emergency escapes. Provisions for burglar alarm, intercom system etc are considered advantageous. Security clearance certificate issued by local authorities may put to rest many of your concerns. If you have toddlers at home, you may need to make your apartment safe for children. Install grilles in the open balconies, terraces and windows. 

As applicable, certain alterations would be necessary to make your apartment friendlier for the elderly members of your family. Our suggestions here will help you to introduce necessary changes. However, do check if you need any kind of clearance certificates from the building or local authorities prior to the refurbishments. This might be particularly true for heritage properties.

Added benefits

Find out about the added benefits you are having within the price. See if your apartment has one or more than one balconies with excellent views like this one decorated by Karin Armbrust which is located at the confluence of two rivers. Whether access to the terrace, basement, garden, swimming pool and game room is provided within the asking price or you need to pay extra for the same. Check if the building has car parking facilities; what are the rules regarding the pets, in other words, if pets are welcome inside the building, and if smoking is allowed within the premises. Get as many of your questions as possible sorted out before making any financial commitments.

You have gone through our recipe for buying a new apartment. Which aspect of an apartment hunting process do you consider most important? Let us kn...
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