Unit buying investor checklist: everything investors need to know before buying a unit

There are multiple factors to take into consideration when buying a unit as an investment. Our checklist helps you keep track of them.

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If you're buying an apartment unit as an investment, there are more considerations to account for than just a decent price and a desirable location. A number of other important factors will end up determining whether or not your unit is a wise investment. The checklist below will help you on your property hunt.

Look at each of the items and assess potential properties based on the checklist. While there are numerous details to take into account when deciding on a unit, the list below will help you build a strong shortlist of contenders.

1. Uniqueness

You'll want the unit you purchase to stand apart from others in the area. Uniqueness may not be the main factor for finding tenants in a high-demand area, but it can become a drawcard when you decide to sell.

Finding distinctive characteristics can be difficult if your unit is one in a block of hundreds. However, adding bespoke features or design elements can help yours rise above its neighbours. You could also consider purchasing a unit in a smaller block.

2. Parking

Parking is a huge factor to consider when choosing a unit. This is particularly the case if the unit you're considering is some distance from public transport links.

Off-street parking is obviously a big draw for units, but readily available on-street parking can help make up for the lack of dedicated parking. If the building you're looking at does have off-street parking, you'll also want to consider whether there's available and adequate visitor parking.

3. Strata

Strata fees will have a huge impact on the cash flow from your investment property. Strata fees go toward maintenance and upkeep of the building. If they're too high, you could find the income you receive from rent diminishing quickly.

In addition to the fees, you'll want to pay attention to the strata rules. Strata rules will govern the alterations and additions you can make to your unit, as well as putting some restrictions on its use. Some strata rules can severely limit the flexibility you have as an owner, so make sure the rules for the building you're considering aren't too severe.

Apartments and green grass

4. Security

Security is an essential feature when living in close proximity to numbers of other people. Smaller blocks where people are likely to know their neighbours can get by without quite as many security features, but safety becomes more important in larger buildings. Look for security systems that make the building convenient for residents to access, but stop strangers from walking in.

5. Construction

The way a unit is constructed can make a big difference to your tenants' experience and satisfaction. Look for units with quality construction and decent fixtures, fittings and appliances.

You'll also want to choose a solidly-constructed building. Apartment living can come with its own privacy issues, but a well-constructed building that reduces noise from neighbours will be attractive to potential tenants.

6. Rental trends

When deciding where to buy, you'll want to look at the rental trends for suburbs, beginning with determining the median rent for the areas you're considering. Then you'll want to look at recent rentals for similar apartments to determine asking rents. You'll also need to research vacancy rates to gauge demand and get an idea for how easy or difficult it might be to find tenants.

7. Potential to add value

It's likely that you'll eventually sell your apartment with an eye toward making a capital gain. If this is the case, you'll want to look at units that have the potential to add value. Whether it's minor cosmetic improvements or major structural changes, find a unit that offers you the opportunity to boost your return on investment.

Check out all our home renovation guides here

8. Amenities

When you're considering the amenities to look for in an apartment purchase, make sure you stick to the amenities that actually provide a return. Features like swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts and the like will add to your strata fees while doing little to attract potential tenants or eventual buyers. Generally, tenants are more attracted to amenities like well-manicured outdoor areas, security features and lift access.

9. Size

The size of the unit you purchase will largely determine your target market for tenants. You can end up limiting your market by going either too small or too large. Two-bedroom units tend to have the broadest appeal because they open your market up to both families and flat shares as well as single professionals.

10. Location

Location will be one the primary factors determining your investment’s success. Not only will you want to look for in-demand suburbs, you'll want to look at the location of units within those areas. Potential tenants will be attracted to your apartment if it’s located in proximity to public transport links, green space, schools, shopping and cafes and restaurants.

You'll also want to pay attention to the unit's location in the building. Will it be likely to get sun? Does it face a main road? What level is it on? Typically, higher floors and north- or east-facing aspects away from main roads are most attractive to potential tenants.

Buying an investment property? Compare your loan options

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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Investor Variable P&I Rate
2.89%
2.89%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Investor, P&I
2.79%
2.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive investor variable rate that falls as you build equity.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset - LVR 60% to 80% (Investment, P&I)
2.69%
2.71%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This investment loan keeps fees low, has a sharp interest rate and comes with a 100% offset account. This loan is not available for construction.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
4.12%
$595
$0 p.a.
90%
$2,000 refinance cashback
Investors can take advantage of a short term fixed rate with no ongoing fees. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
CUA Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (Investor, P&I)
2.69%
4.44%
$600
$0 p.a.
90%
Available with a 10% deposit
Competitive rates for fixed for 3 years with redraw facility. Available with a 10% deposit.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, P&I)
2.29%
2.84%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
Well Home Loans Balanced Fixed Home Loan - 3 Year (Investor, P&I)
2.44%
2.76%
$250
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive 3 year investor rate with principal and interest repayments. Optional offset account with a $10 monthly fee. Not available for construction purposes.
Pepper Money Essential Prime Full Doc Home Loan - LVR >75% up to 80%
3.09%
3.29%
$599
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
This is a competitive, flexible variable rate suitable for borrowers with a good credit history. Borrow up to 80%.
Athena Celebrate Home Loan - 60% LVR  Investor, P&I
2.69%
2.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
Investors with large 40% deposits or equity can get this low variable rate. A competitive option for investors looking to refinance.
Well Home Loans Balanced Variable - LVR 80% (Investor, P&I)
2.82%
2.85%
$250
$0 p.a.
80%
If you're an investor with a 20% deposit saved you can get this low rate mortgage. Not available for construction.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Years Fixed (LVR ≤90% Investor, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.64%
3.56%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. A 3 years fixed rate investor which allows extra repayments to be made.
Well Home Loans Balanced Variable - LVR 90% (Investor, P&I)
2.82%
2.85%
$250
$0 p.a.
90%
Competitive variable investor mortgage to fund your property portfolio. You can add a 100% offset account for just $10 a month. Not available for construction purposes.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR up to 70% (Investor, P&I)
2.89%
2.89%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Investors with a 30% deposit can get this low rate loan to fund their property portfolio. Take advantage of split and redraw facilities.
UBank UHomeLoan - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, P&I)
2.29%
2.74%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no ongoing fees on this investment loan fixed for 3 years.
ING Orange Advantage Loan - $150k to $500k (LVR ≤ 80% Investor, P&I)
3.24%
3.57%
$0
$299 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy a 100% offset account, a redraw facility and flexible repayments.
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Investor Extra Offer Investor Interest Only
3.29%
3.16%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay interest only repayments with this special offer for investors.
Athena Variable Home Loan - Investor, IO
2.99%
2.81%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive interest-only investor rate with no application or ongoing fees. Requires a 20% deposit.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, IO)
2.44%
2.85%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
Pepper Money Essential Prime Alt Doc Home Loan - LVR up to 55%
3.85%
4.04%
$599
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
55%
A competitive rate home loan with an offset facility for self-employed borrowers.
UBank UHomeLoan - 5 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, P&I)
2.74%
2.83%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Lock in a 5 year fixed rate on your investment loan and pay no ongoing fees.
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Credit services for Aussie Select, Aussie Activate and Aussie Elevate products are provided by AHL Investments Pty Ltd ACN 105 265 861 (“Aussie”) and its appointed credit representatives, Australian Credit Licence 246786. Credit for Aussie Select products is provided by Residential Mortgage Group Pty Ltd ACN 152 378 133, Australian Credit Licence 414133 (“RMG”). RMG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 234945. Credit for Aussie Activate products is provided by Pepper Finance Corporation Limited ACN 094 317 647 (“Pepper”). Pepper Group Limited ACN 094 317 665, Australian Credit Licence 286655 acts on behalf of Pepper. Credit services for Aussie Elevate products are provided by AHL Investments Pty Ltd ACN 105 265 861 Australian Credit Licence 246786 (“Aussie”) and its appointed credit representatives. Aussie is a trade mark of AHL Investments Pty Ltd ABN 27 105 265 861. Credit and any applicable offset accounts for Aussie Elevate are issued by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited ABN 11 068 049 178 AFSL / Australian Credit Licence 237879.

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Westpac Flexi First Option Home Loan - Basic Variable Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)

Up to $3,000 refinance cashback. A flexible and competitive variable rate loan. Eligible borrowers refinancing $250,000 or more can get $2,000 cashback per property plus a bonus $1,000 for their first application. Other conditions apply.

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St.George Basic Home Loan - LVR 60% to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)

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Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I

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