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ravedave

Decent Apartments?

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Looking to purchase in this year.  Can't/Won't put it off any longer.

I think that an apartment might be a suitable proposition for me - single male in 40's, close to town, car parking, ease of maintenance, etc.  Plus, I'm not always about - esp at weekends so my routine would not be a visible as with a house, making it less of a target for crime.

However, from reading on here I am aware that apartments are not well thought of.  I've been in some of them in the city centre and I agree that they are not 'ideal' for someone looking to be a owner/occupier.

So, the question is - where are the decent apartments in Belfast?  It is easy to knock down the bad ones, but where are the decent ones?

When the price starts going over £170k - £180k I think a semi-detached becomes a more viable option.

I'm currently in Old Bakers Court and I'm finding that noise from upstairs apartment is annoying - esp late at night (after midnight) and early morning (before 6am).

 

Any suggestions welcome.

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How would you feel if you had spent £100-200k on your apartment (instead of renting it)and thus couldn't easily move?

That should inform your decision as to whether actually buying one as a place to live in, is a good idea.   They can be great to rent for a short time but I personally wouldn't want to own one, unless it was in a really desirable area of London or something.

 

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23 minutes ago, Sour Mash said:

How would you feel if you had spent £100-200k on your apartment (instead of renting it)and thus couldn't easily move?

That should inform your decision as to whether actually buying one as a place to live in, is a good idea.   They can be great to rent for a short time but I personally wouldn't want to own one, unless it was in a really desirable area of London or something.

 

This.

I've been in A few blocks, wouldn't want to live in one long-term. 

Basically forget the ones built around 2006-11.

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I have lived in a central Belfast apartment for almost a decade. Always renting. Single, mid 30's.

I love being near everything. Walk to work, walk into town or cinema or to see a gig. No need to own/run a car.

However:

- I have to use ear plugs to sleep in the evenings

- I'm lucky that there's no noise from the neighbors, but in many apartments there will be, and bad neighbors can make your life hell; and you won't know until you move in after you've bought the place

- the rise of airbnb means that many city center apartments are now run as airbnb's - which gives you the additional risk of being beside one of those

- cost of maintaining an aging apartment block - the maintenance charge, which is significant, 1200+ (and you have to add rates to that), doesn't cover big unexpected repairs. You need a sink fund for that. But I've hears several stories of management companies not being careful with the money over the years and buildings that are decades old which are supposed to have large sink funds built up by now are actually in debt. So even if you own the flat outright, you'll have a bare minimum of 2K a year in rates and maintenance fees to pay, as well as the occasional additional charge...I'd budget 3K a year all in for the average 2 bed apartment in a modern block based on the stories I hear

- ....and with that all considered, you have to ask yourself if owning an apartment is worth the risk when they have once again risen to a similar cost to a 3 bed semi a couple of miles away.

One thing that might save you some money is if you find a flat in a small block that doesn't have a lift; will reduce the maintenance charge somewhat.

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I suppose my main concern would be security as I would be away often.  I just felt that initially an apartment would be more secure as my patterns would not be easily observed.

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1 hour ago, ravedave said:

I suppose my main concern would be security as I would be away often.  I just felt that initially an apartment would be more secure as my patterns would not be easily observed.

Better to buy a house with good locks and an alarm. 

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On 15/01/2019 at 13:02, ravedave said:

I suppose my main concern would be security as I would be away often.  I just felt that initially an apartment would be more secure as my patterns would not be easily observed.

I know what you mean, that's one of the things I love about being up high in an apartment, feels like several layers of security between me and my belongings. Just depends whether you are willing to pay a premium for this.

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3 hours ago, JoeDavola said:

I know what you mean, that's one of the things I love about being up high in an apartment, feels like several layers of security between me and my belongings. Just depends whether you are willing to pay a premium for this.

I wouldnt be tooo sure of that, it all depends on the design of the apartment block.

In Edinburgh tenements a favoured attack route is to ring the bell during the day and get access to the communal stairway, then carry up a ladder to the top floor and break into the attic hatch, often just a small padlock. Once in the attic space they walk around and listen for any signs of activity - if it's quiet they use a hammer to break a hole in the ceiling and lower themselves down into the top floor apartment, burgle the place and exit through the door - as most old flats only have a yale lock.

The safest streets to live in are terraced blocks (houses or flats) with just one or two stories and overlooked by a parrallel block, also with some street activity - shops, pedestrians - basically the more "eyes" there are around the less crime happens.

Jane Jacobs wrote a book on the design of cities and goes into this in some detail - it's a very worthwhile read.

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Central Park is a fairly decent apartment block, it was built to a much higher specification than a lot of the neighbouring blocks, a lot of the original buyers bought them to live in and 20 years later still do,a good friend lives in one and he has no complaints about noise etc, he thinks that there is only a couple of them let out, it also built as four small blocks and each block I think has 6-12 apartments in them, each block with its own lift, so any time I’ve been there the communal areas etc are spotless, have no idea of service charges etc 

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On 11/01/2019 at 12:59, ravedave said:

I'm currently in Old Bakers Court and I'm finding that noise from upstairs apartment is annoying - esp late at night (after midnight) and early morning (before 6am).

If you don't mind living in Old Bakers Court then this offers much better value than most apartments:

https://www.propertynews.com/property-for-sale/belfast/townhouse-type/ardenlee+court/property/MCEA9324316/ https://www.propertynews.com/property-for-sale/belfast/townhouse-type/ardenlee+court/property/MCEA9324316/

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TBH - I'm not really fussed on OBC.  It is okay, although if you move into those houses your access is via the entry at the Spar and funeral parlor - which can be a bit cumbersome during the rush.  It's a younger crowd in there so at 40yo I'm thinking of somewhere a bit more sedate.

In terms of apartments, I was wondering about ones up at Broomhill & Danesfort.  What are they like?  Is access at rush hour a problem as you are going out onto a main route?

Just noticed the following which seems okay, is it?

https://www.propertypal.com/apt-2-balmoral-view-96-balmoral-avenue-belfast/549110

My alternative option is to get a semi and go all in for an IoT setup in regards to automating lights and some blinds - as well as increasing the security of the doors and windows.

Edited by ravedave

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On 22/01/2019 at 23:07, ravedave said:

TBH - I'm not really fussed on OBC.  It is okay, although if you move into those houses your access is via the entry at the Spar and funeral parlor - which can be a bit cumbersome during the rush.  It's a younger crowd in there so at 40yo I'm thinking of somewhere a bit more sedate.

In terms of apartments, I was wondering about ones up at Broomhill & Danesfort.  What are they like?  Is access at rush hour a problem as you are going out onto a main route?

Just noticed the following which seems okay, is it?

https://www.propertypal.com/apt-2-balmoral-view-96-balmoral-avenue-belfast/549110

My alternative option is to get a semi and go all in for an IoT setup in regards to automating lights and some blinds - as well as increasing the security of the doors and windows.

That's a nice flat; I like the way the building's set back from the road ect...only downside is that it's ground floor.

1500 service charge and rates are actually quite low for the area at 915. Still I'd budget 3K a year of 'ownership costs' even if you have the mortgage paid off outright.

I'm guessing you could rent the same flat for about 800-900 a month. Here's one in Dansfort for under 800:

https://www.propertypal.com/31-danesfort-malone-road-belfast/478381/slideshow/photo-11

So 3K represents about 4 months rent. So you'd be paying say 190K to save 8 months rent a year (say 8 * 800 = 6400) which is 3.4% return on money. Which isn't great but I understand why you want to own your own place.

This flat's been on the market for several months so they might accept a lower offer:

https://www.propertynews.com/property-for-sale/belfast/apartment-type/wellington+park/property/GOCGOC8787/

 

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On 11/01/2019 at 12:59, ravedave said:

Looking to purchase in this year.  Can't/Won't put it off any longer.

I think that an apartment might be a suitable proposition for me - single male in 40's, close to town, car parking, ease of maintenance, etc.  Plus, I'm not always about - esp at weekends so my routine would not be a visible as with a house, making it less of a target for crime.

However, from reading on here I am aware that apartments are not well thought of.  I've been in some of them in the city centre and I agree that they are not 'ideal' for someone looking to be a owner/occupier.

So, the question is - where are the decent apartments in Belfast?  It is easy to knock down the bad ones, but where are the decent ones?

When the price starts going over £170k - £180k I think a semi-detached becomes a more viable option.

I'm currently in Old Bakers Court and I'm finding that noise from upstairs apartment is annoying - esp late at night (after midnight) and early morning (before 6am).

 

Any suggestions welcome.

Can't vouch for this block (can anyone else?), but this is a really good size for a one bedder, and it's on the top floor too. Ideal bachelor pad:

https://www.propertypal.com/apt-56-south-studios-85-tates-avenue-belfast/555263

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I wouldn't have thought that South Studios would have been the best of apartment blocks - I think it is mostly rentals and AirBnB.

I have been in Wellington Sq (off Annadale Embankment) and found it fine, but some posters here say the quality of the build is not great - I probably wasn't there long enough to notice any issues.

I just want my own place now.  It will be long term, so I'm not concerned about fluctuations in the market and buying at the bottom has long gone.

It's kind of looking like a Semi-D somewhere in the 'burbs.  Any apartment complex that would entice me would be around similar money to a house - £185k - so probably would not be worth it.

I'm currently renting a single bed apartment for £575, but I'd like me own place.

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17 hours ago, ravedave said:

I wouldn't have thought that South Studios would have been the best of apartment blocks - I think it is mostly rentals and AirBnB.

I have been in Wellington Sq (off Annadale Embankment) and found it fine, but some posters here say the quality of the build is not great - I probably wasn't there long enough to notice any issues.

I just want my own place now.  It will be long term, so I'm not concerned about fluctuations in the market and buying at the bottom has long gone.

It's kind of looking like a Semi-D somewhere in the 'burbs.  Any apartment complex that would entice me would be around similar money to a house - £185k - so probably would not be worth it.

I'm currently renting a single bed apartment for £575, but I'd like me own place.

Yep that's the exact same price I'm paying for a 1 bed; my plan is that whatever I buy should hopefully be the first and last house I ever need, with a mortgage I can easily afford over the next 20 years or so. So regardless of what happens I'll still have a roof over my head.

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