Buying a Strata Titled Property: What you need to know.

More and more WA homebuyers are buying strata titled property, but just what exactly does it mean to own a strata home?

According to the Strata Community Association WA, owning a strata titled lot is owning “a defined portion of a building, group of buildings or land for which a separate Certificate of Title is issued.”

This ownership is subject to the Strata Titles Act 1985, due to being registered as Strata Titles or Survey-Strata Titles with Landgate.

You can own a strata lot within a variety of property types, including a townhouse, apartment or a commercial office and it essentially enables you to own a part of a property with shared ownership of common property which can include driveways and gardens.
 
Pindan’s Strata Manager (level 2 – Certified Strata Community Manager (CSCM)), Kim Bunting, explains what it means to own a strata property and the things you should consider when buying in a strata complex:
 
What do strata fees cover?

Basically, everything associated with the building and maintenance. This can include building insurance, maintaining lawns and gardens, general grounds maintenance (such as paving and odd jobs), electrical work, pool servicing, common area cleaning, lift maintenance, security, gates and garage doors repairs and maintenance and gym upkeep.

Works to your internal lot are not covered in such fees. However, sometimes utility consumption might be covered if there are no separate meters per lot.
 
How do strata fees compare vs paying for building insurance and maintenance myself?

If you are a person, who is house-proud and enjoys caring for your home’s surrounds and outdoor areas, then living in strata titled complex can be cost effective. You have peace of mind in knowing that your outdoor surroundings are maintained, as are everyone else’s around you.

A large amount of the strata fees is made up of building insurance, so you won’t need to pay for this separately yourself. Survey strata properties enables purchasing of building insurance in bulk, as a result this also reduces the cost of your premiums.

As a rule, day-to-day living costs can be lower in strata schemes because shared services often mean that the cost of maintenance is reduced. However, when working out your budget, remember strata fees are in addition to council and water rates.
 
Do strata fees change annually? How should I budget for my fees?

Strata fees are necessary to maintain a building and pay for any associated costs.

These costs are paid in quarterly instalments and are generally made up of two parts - an administration fund and a reserve fund or sinking fund.

The Administration Fund is generally used to make day-to-day expenses such as cleaning, general repairs, strata management fees, insurance costs, pool maintenance (if applicable), common area electricity costs and caretaker costs (if applicable).

The Reserve or Sinking Fund is a separate amount included in the levied contribution which is generally used to facilitate future major repairs for items such as roof or lift replacement (if applicable) and painting of the entire building.

Levies applicable to your unit are calculated on a number of factors including unit size, entitlements and total levies required. For example, an apartment situated on 100sqm will pay less than a 150sqm
 
What questions should I ask a developer when buying strata titled property?

It is important to make sure you address the following questions:
 
  • What will I actually own? In some instances, a proprietor may not own their car bay if it is not specifically allocated to their unit/lot.
  • Are there any restrictions from the local council/building authority regarding balconies?
  • Are pets going to be allowed in the building?
  • How many total lots are in the complex?
  • Parking lay out – how many bays are allocated per unit and is the garage/basement secure?
  • Building security – are all common areas secure?
  • Insurance-  what does it cover?
  • Is the complex strata titled or Survey strata?
  • What are the by-laws?

Carrying out your own research into your local council is also strongly recommended. Find out what the average annual council rates are and if parking permits are required for street parking.
 
What is the difference between strata and survey strata?
 
Usually strata is used for multiple dwellings where one unit is on top of another – such as an apartment development. Survey strata is usually used for single tier developments where lots are side by side only.
 
The plans for each also look a little different.
 
A strata plan will show a property divided into lots (the areas owned individually) and any common property (the areas owned jointly by all the lot owners in the strata scheme).  In a strata plan there can be any number of lots and each lots can be composed of more than one part and each lot can have a different owner. Strata lots are limited in height and depth.
 
Survey-strata plans define the lots in a survey-strata scheme, which are the areas in the scheme owned individually. There are however no part-lots and the distances and angles of each lot boundary define each lot. No buildings are shown on survey-strata plans.
 
Survey strata is also usually not as restrictive in its building requirements and responsibilities, and it may or may not have common areas. Whereas, with a strata property, it you want to make external changes or extend the property in any way, you require the approval of the other lot owners. With a survey strata property, this is generally not required (except in some circumstances).
 
The rights and obligations of survey strata are essentially the same as a green title lot.

What should I consider when buying a strata titled property?

When you are purchasing a property that is strata titled, it is a good idea to ask yourself the following:
 
  • What facilities will you really use? There is no point paying for a pool, for example, when you are someone who isn’t keen on swimming.
  • Are the strata levies I will be paying worth the facilities and their convenience?
  • What do I need to budget for strata fees not just in this first year, but also in the coming years (i.e. will they increase)?
  • How do these fees compare to buying house and land strata managed properties? It is worth comparing not only different complexes but also different property types. 

Buying a strata property with Pindan

Pindan has a number of developments where buying a strata property is easy and because we have an experienced in-house strata manager, we can set realistic and reasonable strata fees from the outset.

In Subiaco, Pindan’s Viridian China Green apartments are located within the Australian Fine China precinct. The brand new five-level residential development, features 74 one, two and three bedroom apartments.

The development includes basement car parking and an open roof top area with common facilities, including a barbecue area and Teppanyaki bar, as well as a gym.

Not having a pool & high maintenance facilities, comes with considerable savings for residents in strata fees.

The average size of these apartments is 126sqm, which includes a balcony and a parking bay.

Next door to Viridian China Green, we also have Indigo China Green. Indigo features a total of 89 one and two bedroom apartments.

Like Viridian, Indigo features a rooftop terrace and entertaining area and gymnasium, but not the usual high maintenance facilities, meaning strata fees are considerably lower than other apartments in the same area.

Further south, Pindan offers affordable house and land packages on survey strata lots at The Heights in Kardinya.

Being a big Survey strata subdivision (with common property such as playground & outdoor bbq facilities, the strata company has control over maintaining common areas, landscaping to ensure the estate’s presentation is up kept and all residents can equally enjoy the facilities.

Verges and streetscapes will be cared for, meaning residents can make the most of a lock and leave lifestyle.

Have more questions about Strata Title? View our frequently asked questions here. Our Sales Agent, Matthew Smith, is also available to answer your queries – just drop him an email at matthew.smith@pindan.com.au  
Source: Pindan

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