One of the biggest reasons people move into apartments is for the added sense of security they afford over a house.
Suddenly, there’s no need to see the world through steel bars or lock the windows every time you go out, and when going off for the weekend you can just get up and go, with no worrying about what might happen when you’re away..
In many high rise blocks, Spiderman is likely to be the only unexpected visitor. Indeed, one enterprising would-be burglar a few years ago received his just deserts when he abseiled down a fire hose and into an apartment via the balcony – only to find himself locked in with his loot when he found the front door deadlocked.
Your development may also secure front doors, CCTV cameras and lift software that only allows access to the floor you live on. Security guards or a concierge service may also provide extra eyes.
But these can prove expensive and you should be careful not to overdo them. One block in Kings Cross found they’d introduced so much security, with all callers visible on TV sets in every apartment, they fast became a haven for drug-dealers – who loved knowing when the police were on their way! The problem was solved when police were sent a printout of the comings and goings from that apartment; the drug dealers got the hint and moved on.
We also need to be wary of real estate agents putting “virtual tours” on their websites. There are fears that this could give would-be burglars all the clues they need on the whereabouts of alarms and valuables. Many agents make careful notes about each person who comes to inspect apartments on open days, precisely to avoid unwelcome return visits.
Any Owners Corporation employing a concierge or security service needs to look closely at the procedures companies have for recruiting staff, and make sure they vet their personnel, especially if they’re given access to masterkeys.
No one wants to repeat the experience of the city unit dweller who returned home early one day to find the concierge sitting in his loungeroom, with his feet on the coffee table, reading a selection of his magazines. Or the woman on a day off from work who was in her shower when a security guard brought his mates up, as he said, no pun intended, “just to look at the view”.
Double check both staff and company references. A few phone calls are a small price for an Executive Committee or Building Manager to pay to make everyone feel safe and secure in their own homes.
Q & A
Q: I’m buying into a very fashionable, expensive building, but how can I be sure it’ll retain its value?
A: First of all, make sure you’re not being dazzled by the publicity surrounding the building. Remember: fashions change, people move on and there’s always a new fad just around the corner.
Try to strip away the glitter and see if it provides what you actually want from an apartment. Does it have enough room, a good layout, plenty of light? Are all the rooms a decent size Will the fashionable features date quickly or are they ‘timeless’? In short, is the apartment a triumph of style over substance?
Look too at any developments planned nearby. There’s nothing like a fashionable architect styling a host of new projects in the neighbourhood for yours suddenly to pale in comparison.