Most likely you’d install a timber floor or update the kitchen. The cost – tens of thousands of dollars – and with a rising property market and a bit of luck you’d see the money back.
Even if you don’t want to spend that sort of money on your apartment, you can still add value to it by making sure it’s part of an appealing and well kept building. With thousands of new apartments being built making improvements to your own building may not just be an option, it may be a necessity. Your building could become indistinguishable from the rest and your apartment just another 2 bedroom unit.
There are many simple ways of improving apartment buildings. Don’t think that as an owner you have to leave the thinking to the executive committee. If you have a good idea, tell your executive committee or put a motion on the annual general meeting agenda.
Improvements can be made at modest cost. Do the maths. If you live in a 100 apartment building, it can spend $50,000 and the cost per apartment is just $500. But you don’t have to spend that much. There are things which you can do which are just good ideas and cost nothing and a host of other things that cost little. Here are some;
To add value to your apartment get your strata scheme finances in order. A buyer may not investigate them deeply but there are a couple of things that will put them off:
- How do the levies compare with other buildings? Are they out of line? If they are high, maybe there’s waste. If they are too low, maybe more needs to be spent on maintenance
- How much money is there in the sinking fund ? There needs to be enough to pay for repairs and replacements in coming years. If there isn’t, a buyer could well imagine a special levy coming just round the corner.
- Is your building an example of high rise harmony ? Buyers don’t like buildings where there are fights going on between owners or executive committee members. Meeting minutes can give a lot away, so get your owners and executive committee members to look at themselves in the mirror.
- If you don’t have a website for your building, you should have. It doesn’t have to be complex. It gives your residents an identity, but it’s also the public face of your building – your building’s brand. Make sure it is fresh and friendly.
- Think about what the building looks like. Maybe it gets painted every 8 years and there’s another 3 years to go. Not every wall or surface ages at the same rate. Some will need freshening up more often.
- Don’t count on the agent showing buyers through when it’s not garbage day. If there are overflowing bins on the street on Mondays, you need to do something about it.
- First impressions count. A dismal lobby is a dismal introduction to a building. Lobby upgrades can be expensive, but you can work wonders with a couple of pieces of new furniture and some inexpensive pictures on the walls.
- Does your building look like an institution? Do you really need all the “Please shut the door”, “”No Smoking”, “No skateboarding” signs?
- Is your Noticeboard somewhere with out of date minutes pinned on it three deep and a faded set of by-laws ? Get a good sized lockable noticeboard and make sure it’s kept up to date.
- A few dollars spent on improving gardens and landscaping can pay handsome dividends.
- And then there are all the obvious things like promptly replacing failed light globes, making sure mail boxes are not bulging with junk mail etc.
If you are really ambitious in wanting to add value to your apartment building, you can undertake upgrade projects which might take time before the benefits are obvious but which will add value in the long run. Going “green’ with energy upgrades, especially installing LED lighting, can pay for itself in less than 2 years and provide ongoing savings into the future. As power becomes more expensive buildings that manage their power needs intelligently will be sought after.
Don’t forget the value of your apartment has a lot to do with the way your building looks and the way your building is run. When you hear the real estate agent saying how easy it is for him to sell apartments in your building, you’ll know you’ve made a difference.
Owners’ Corporation Network