Real Estate

Would you buy an apartment or a standalone house?

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A friend asked the other day as to whether it is best to buy an apartment or a standalone house and land.  The simple answer is that it comes down to personal preference.  But it’s important to look at some of the positives and negatives about the two options to help you consider what you would opt for if you were in my friend’s situation.

Ownership of apartments usually come in the form of a strata title. Strata title allows individual ownership of part of a property (ie. An apartment) combined with shared ownership of common areas.  These common areas might include driveways, gardens, foyers and so forth.  The ownership of the property usually comes under a company, known as a body corporate, and each individual owner holds shares in that company. The shares represent ownership of an apartment on the property.

The body corporate is usually responsible for the management of the property.  This includes maintenance, cleaning of common areas and other essential property management services.

When buying into an apartment that comes with a strata title, there are certain rules and regulations in which owners need to comply with.  There are also levies or fees payable to the body corporate.  It is important to understand these rules and regulations and the costs associated with your ownership of an apartment because some rules may limit you on what you want to do with your apartment.

Generally, apartments are a lot smaller so if space is important to you (which is usually the case) it’s important to consider the size of an apartment and compare with the cost.

Most apartments tend to be located near business districts. So if proximity to work is important to you, choosing an apartment close to work is a worthy consideration.  As a first home buyer, you should note that you may not stay with the same employer and the worst thing you want to do is to choose an apartment to buy solely because it is close to work and find out your moving to another job on the other side of town.  It’s best to choose an apartment that you consider to be the place you will stay for a long period of time.

Although apartments come in much smaller sizes area wise compared to standalone houses, they are not cheap.  The location of the apartment coupled with other features like modern furniture and fittings, swimming pool and gymnasiums push up the price.

Having said the above, many Papua New Guineans tend to prefer standalone houses over apartments.  Perhaps it’s because of the size in area and the fact that Papua New Guineans like to live in a communal type lifestyle which influences them to choose houses over apartments.

A larger number of apartments are occupied by expatriates too which often makes it a little uncomfortable for locals.

Living in an apartment, the neighbours tend to be much closer to you which means there’s a risk that you will have to put up with some of their noise.

If you decide to buy a house, the benefit is usually the larger size of the area.  Papua New Guineans tend to live in large families and having a big area can cater for those extended family visits and of course those regular family events.

Because you own the land and the house, you have the ability to further develop it in any way you wish subject to planning and building regulations.  Owning a house offers more flexibility and you can depending on funds, build a house that suits your taste.

Unlike paying a body corporate, you are pretty much responsible for all utility costs associated with the property.  These costs include land rent, garbage rates, land tax as well as cleaning costs for the entire property.

It’s much more simpler to own a house without the hassles of body corporate requirements as in levies, meetings and so forth.  On the other hand, a body corporate cuts down a lot of the property management and maintenance issues you’d be faced with if you were living in a house.

Ultimately, whether you choose a house or an apartment comes down to your own personal preference.  What kind of person are you?  Are you able to maintain the property yourself, do you prefer to have your own exclusive area in the entire property, do you mind sharing common areas and so forth.

Apartments in Papua New Guinea tend to be more available in the market for investment and rental and not necessarily for first home buyers.  But that’s not to say you shouldn’t buy an apartment – it’s your money, it’s your decision.  But do take into consideration the benefits and costs of your options.  Buying a property is a huge investment, so take your time, consider the positives and negatives before jumping into something.

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