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The interest rate may have been cut, and the property market may be experiencing something of a lull, but buying an apartment in Sydney will still burn a hole in your pocket.

 And if you do scrape together enough pennies, what you end up buying may not be what you envisaged. Plenty of media attention has been given to Sydney’s deteriorating new high-rise apartments, especially in Mascot’s eponymously named Mascot Towers, where cracks were found in the building’s car park and residents were forced to evacuate. Not an isolated event, this story has found a home amongst others in a social consensus titled: “Australian apartments no longer thought of as the safe investment of years past.” Catchy.

Aesthetic:  According to reports from Core Logic, both home-owners and investors are now favouring more established buildings, constructed to a standard often reflected on as “the good old days” when “things were built to last”. These apartments, typically built between 1960 and 1990, are often easily identifiable, with strong red, orange, and blonde brick exteriors. That classic look. 

Unlike most new-builds, these apartments are also usually full brick throughout, compared to many newer apartments that have gyprock internal walls. They also often offer individual lock-up garages compared to the more modern trend of shared undercover parking.

 The northern districts Avnu Centre’s Benjamin Mulae provides us with an example of the beauty of old meets new, with this property he has listed in Cowell St, Ryde. In an older-era building, the apartment in question has been renovated masterfully to a modern sanctuary. It offers three different outdoor entertaining spaces and is nearly twice the average size for the area.  It is exemplar of an apartment that mixes softened, matured grace, with fresh, light modernity.

Community: Apart from physicality, a sense of community is another appeal. The older style buildings are usually much smaller than newer apartments, with typical sizes ranging from 15 to 30 apartments per building. Although not true in every case, you could be expected to enjoy a warmer relationship with your block-mates, since you can recognise and interact with them on a more individual basis. Also, driveways and other available amenities are easier to access and enjoy, since they’re shared among fewer residents. 

History: Far from being a drawback, age gives these buildings a documented history, where would-be buyers can perform a search of the strata records and gain insight into any known or recurring issues before they commit. As an older property has been established for many years, a savvy buyer can purchase a property with a well run owner’s corporation that has a healthy sinking fund to pay for future scheduled works and maintenance. The northern district’s Avnu team recently sold an apartment in Gladesville that had just had all the windows upgraded, at a cost of $10,000 per apartment. The new buyer got the benefit of this as it was already paid for by the vendor.

 Price: As for price, as these buildings are typically two or three storey walk-ups, they do not have lifts, gyms, spa’s, pools, saunas, tennis courts and large landscaped grounds, therefore the strata levies can be as much as one third less than the newer alternative.

 After all this glorification, it would be remiss of me not to inject a voice of caution. The older buildings will eventually require upgrades to roofing, balconies, windows, and fire safety. It’s important to look into this before getting too serious on a property. But what’s the fun in a preloved property without a little DIY?

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