What I look for when buying Sydney apartments

Updated: Aug 21


By Grant Foley, Director and Buyers Agent, Grant Foley Property

Like many growing global cities, Sydney has a very short supply of available land close to the CBD. The Sydney basin is flanked by mountains, national parks, and the sea, so when looking to booster our supply of well-located housing, we’ve had to go ‘up’ instead of ‘out’.

Even with this geographical reality, Sydney apartments have seemed to bear the brunt of negative media stories – regardless of the fact that they can make sound investment sense if the right type of dwelling, and building, are purchased. Don’t get me wrong, some of the bad press has been thoroughly deserved, but not all apartments are created equally, or built shoddily such as the Mascot and Opal Towers debacles over recent times. Sydney has been a high-density city for a while now, with apartments a common first choice amongst homeowners because of their often-superior locations for a more affordable price. In fact, with the price of freestanding homes continuing to rise sharply, units are usually the only genuine homeownership chance for many Sydneysiders.

This is why I purchase quite a few apartments for first home buyers, owner occupiers as well as investors, usually in blue-chip suburbs of the Eastern Suburbs, Lower North Shore and Inner West.

However, to maximise both lifestyle and financial gains for my clients, here are five things I look for when buying Sydney apartments.


1. Uniqueness


Apartments that have a scarcity factor, which makes them the polar opposite of cookier-cutter units in new high-rise developments. I’m talking about an Art Deco unit in a small boutique complex in a superior location like by the beach; a warehouse conversion project; or even a large three-bedroom and two-bathroom unit that will appeal to young families Supply is the enemy of capital growth, which is why I always stay well away from areas with heavy supply of new apartments.


2. Established property Many buyers have been caught out buying an off-the-plan apartment, seduced by slick marketing and pretty pictures of what it will look like once constructed. However, these designs are often similar to others in the area already, or slated to be, built in the years to come, which kills the scarcity factor completely. I always look for established units that have stood the test of time, including a proven and documented history of both the building and its tenants, such as the ownership mix of owner occupiers versus investors and the average tenure of tenants.


3. Floor plan

New units tend to be much smaller than existing ones, which is why floor plans are so important.


Ideally, a unit will be generous in size as well as have flow from one room to another. Other attributes include separate living and dining areas, an internal laundry, ample storage, and a sunroom or a study if possible. Even without all of these, the opportunity to remove an internal wall to create more space is a sound option as well.

4. Aspect


There is only one thing worse than a small apartment and that’s a small dark apartment! Aspect is vital when selecting a superior unit as a strategic property investment, which includes good natural light and large windows. Ideally, look for a north-facing aspect to allow the light in and it’s also ideal if the aspect looks out to nature versus looking straight into another unit, which just adds to the woe in my opinion.


5. Peace and quiet


There really is nothing worse than noisy apartments if you ask me – well, maybe a noisy and dark apartment! That’s why it’s important to look for the best location within the complex by considering such elements as how many common walls does the apartment have? Are there units above or below (a top floor location is always ideal)? Does the unit face the road? A pro-tip is that sometimes a unit can be whisper quiet even if it is located on a busy road – if it is located at the rear of the complex. As these criteria show, there are a number of non-negotiables when it comes to buying a superior Sydney apartment.



Grant Foley is a Property Investor, Qualified Property Investment Advisor® & Licenced Buyers Agent. Enquiries: info@grantfoleyproperty.com.au

© Grant Foley Property 2021

The content of this article is of a general nature. Investors should seek their own independent legal & financial advice