Are you thinking of buying a unit in Canberra?

If you intend to live in your unit or rent it out to tenants, you need to know what the place is like to live in, how it’s being managed and whether or not your neighbours get along. If a property is unpleasant for an owner it’s likely an investor will have problems retaining tenants. You’ll also want to know where the property is today and where it might be in 5-25 years’ time. The last thing you want is to foot a major damage bill for leaky pipes etc.

A badly managed body corporate can affect the re-sale value of your property, blow out your budget and your net rental return. Excessive strata management costs also have the potential to affect your ability to service your mortgage. At best, a body corporate report can reassure you that the scheme you’re buying into is a nice place to live with well-maintained amenities. At worst, it may uncover fiscal mismanagement, disputes between owners, high levies or unresolved legal issues.

What to look out for

• Is the property adequately insured?
• Is the complex financially well managed (consider age of the building, size of sinking fund, etc.)?
• Does the building have any defects? How are they being addressed?
• Does the complex meet council and safety regulations?
• Is there any evidence of legal action or public liability claims (e.g. between strata management and builders)?
• Is there any history of disputes (e.g. between owners and strata management)?
• Are there any outstanding invoices or building works that could result in a special levy?
• What is the future of the building, is it clear?
• Is the complex and the land it’s built on structurally sound?