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Could it be a good time to buy a unit?

The housing market has gotten a lot of attention this year, but as house prices continue to rise there’s a good chance that buyers will start turning their attention to other property options such as units. 

Since the pandemic started we have seen a trend of buyers looking for larger homes in less dense areas. This has no doubt been an effect of lockdowns and the increasing ability to be able to work remotely. 

This shift away from high-density living has certainly been reflected in CoreLogic’s property data that shows that Australia’s median house price has jumped by 8.6% so far this year, whereas unit values have only gone up by 4.7%.

But day-to-day life is slowly returning to what it was before the pandemic, and the concern of lockdowns or living in close proximity to others isn’t what it was a year ago. 

While CBD office buildings may not have returned to full capacity yet, the vibrancy of inner-city life is, and people are again starting to look at properties that are convenient and low-maintenance.

But that’s not the only reason that units may be about to get more popular. 

The unit market has typically relied heavily on international students and visitors, as well as business travellers. With borders closed we obviously aren’t seeing a lot of demand here, however this is likely to change as the country opens up. 

Before that happens though there may be a good opportunity to get into the unit market before it makes a dramatic comeback, however as with any property purchase there are a number of factors that can make one unit a smarter purchase than another. 

What to look for in a unit?

If you are thinking about purchasing a unit then there are a few key things you should keep in mind:

Location – Location is paramount when looking at a unit. Take note of things that are nearby, such as schools, shopping and dining precincts and access to good public transport. 

Owner-occupier appeal – Whether you’re looking for a unit to live in or as an investment you’ll want it to appeal to other owner-occupiers. This will often result in units that are better maintained and that will hold their value better over time. 

Building quality – The building the unit is located in is just as important as the unit itself. Get your building and pest inspector to check for any major damage around the building, and with older buildings in particular look out for how well it has been looked after and maintained.

Level and orientation – A unit’s position within the building it’s in is very important. Think about whether you would prefer a ground-floor unit (can be easier to access) or want to be high up with a view. You should also consider whether the unit is north facing and receives light, or whether it’s facing any busy roads. 

Floor space – You won’t be able to add an extension later so ensure that the unit you purchase has a decent amount of floor space. Generally the more floor space the better, but the way the unit is laid out can have a big impact on its functionality too. 

Car parks and storage space – Even if you won’t need to do a lot of driving, you’ll appreciate having your own car space, as well as any extra space to store large bulky items you don’t want in the unit. You’ll also want to check out the visitor-parking situation so you know it will be easy for friends to come and visit. 

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