Is apartment living a part of your future?
The cranes on our skyline tell a fairly clear story: Brisbane’s inner-city is undergoing enormous change. You need only look back a few years and our most common dwelling was a house, usually timber, and often on 400m2 of land or more. Today apartment living is a growing choice and offers so much more than just an affordable option for investors and those starting out.
Our inner suburbs are home to a wider variety of medium and high density living than ever before. There’s some seriously large and luxurious apartments – one Newstead residence recently came onto the market with price expectations of more than $6 million.
To put this trend to apartment living into some sort of perspective for you, RP Data reports that in the year to November, approvals for new dwelling construction in inner-Brisbane included 24 houses. In that same period 1,881 new multi-unit dwellings were approved!
As local agents we meet a lot of Brisbanites still dipping their toe in the apartment waters. Couples often nearing their empty-nest years and contemplating life in a new location with dining, entertainment and relaxations options at their doorsteps. Weighing up the loss of space from their old houses, cautious about privacy and noise. For many of these would-be buyers the laws around apartment living can be especially daunting. So for those of you considering the change, here’s some simple info to help:
A body corporate simply consists of each owner of a lot (eg. townhouse, duplex, apartment, villa or unit) in a community titles scheme. When you buy you automatically become a member of that body corporate, which is a separate legal entity and a bit like a company with you as its shareholders. In Queensland there’s an Act that regulates exactly how this works and there’s some very useful info at the government’s website.
The annual meeting of owners (the 3 of them that turn up plus the gardener’s dog!) elect a committee of owners to oversee regular decision making, and usually also appoint an external manager to do all the admin work. In larger buildings they may also have an onsite manager who carries out caretaking duties. A body corp is generally responsible for maintenance of all of its common property and that’s usually everything outside the 4 walls of each apartment including walkways, lifts, pools, stairs and infrastructure such as pipes and wiring.
Of course the committee can’t make major decisions or incur big expenses without a meeting of owners. If you’d like to have more say in your building put your hand up for the committee, but be aware it doesn’t pay and can be a thankless job! We see numerous buildings on inspections with buyers and tenants and there can be a marked difference in the ongoing appeal between similar buildings simply due to one having an active committee, and another being left to an external manager.
So there’s no outside company or person deciding the fate of your building. The annual costs are set by the owners, hopefully with recommendations by the managers as experts in this. But the idea that someone is hiking costs for their own benefit is just not true. Put a bunch of people in the one building, add some emotional issues like money, keeping of pets, noisy parties and bikes stored on balconies and it’s no surprise there’s ingredients for disagreement!
But the real surprise is how well most bodies corporate actually operate. Brisbane’s shift to apartment living comes with a learning process for many of us but there’s some wonderful benefits of the lifestyle it offers.
And of course if you’re looking to sell or rent your inner-Brisbane apartment you need an agency that understands body corp law, can help buyers through their cautions and fully explain the appeal of apartments. Naturally we’d love to help!