Monday, January 16, 2017

Things to look for when buying an apartment

Whether you’re a first home buyer, empty nester, or investor, you’ve made the decision to purchase an apartment.

Good for you!

Apartment ownership as opposed to freehold house ownership has its quirks, and these may not be apparent in the Section 32. As an Owners Corporation Manager, I have seen it all! Here are some things to look out for to make sure that your investment is solid and your sanity saved.
  • Account balances – does the Owners Corporation have a healthy bank balance, both in the Administration and Sinking Funds?
  • Owners Corporation Rules – are there any rules that would not suit you as an owner or diminish the ease of finding a tenant? In particular, look at rules relating to pets, car parking, storage, use of balconies and courtyards.
  • Procedures for things such as apartment renovations, air conditioning installations, or changes to the external appearance. Note that you may not have the right to install or change what you like without the permission of the Owners Corporation.
  • Does the building have an elevator, a pool/gym, automatic car park gate, cooling towers, hydronic heating, or any other major plant equipment? These shared facilities are what make apartment living great, but be aware of the high costs associated with maintenance and replacements. Ensure the Owners Corp has an up to date Maintenance Plan and is accumulating money in the Sinking Fund for the eventual replacement of these capital items.
  • Is there a well-functioning and active committee? A quick chat with the Owners Corporation Manager should give you a good idea.
  • If buying off the plan – take the first year OC fees, and double them! This is a more realistic figure of what the fees will be in subsequent years. Developers often create a low first year budget as most building components are still under warranty, and of course to attract buyers.
  • When reading AGM minutes, any of the following phrases should raise a red flag: “water leak/ingress”, “structural issues”, “legal action”, “dispute”, “VCAT”, “Special Levy”. Read between the lines to check for ongoing disputes, personality clashes, and difficult members.
  • Look around the building for any components that look old or outdated such as painting, window frames, floor surfaces, gardens, lifts. Chances are it will be on the agenda to carry out these works in the next couple of years so be prepared for that expense or ask the OC Manager if funds are already being put aside for this.
  • Check the plan of subdivision for where your lot boundaries are and what is included on your title – some plans have the lot boundary as the internal face of the walls, whereas other have it as the exterior face. Each has different implications in determining who is responsible to pay for works. If you’re unsure, check with the OC Manager.

If it all checks out, enjoy the high life in your new apartment with (hopefully) no nasty surprises.

- Caitlin See, OC Manager

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Meet The Team: Nadia Powell

Our Head of Property Management, Nadia Powell, shares her tops tips for landlords and tenants and fills us in on what its like to work at Dixon Kestles.

What is your role/position at DK?
Head of the Property Management Department

Where would we find you on your day off?
Either heading down to the Mornington Peninsula or trying out a new restaurant to go to for a long lunch.

Best thing about working at DK
The people and culture.  Everybody works hard and is supportive of each other and I have a really dedicated team.

What are you watching on Netflix?
The Crown. Great acting and really admire the Queen

Personal mantra?
From personal experience - Everything is possible 

Dream travel destination?
Bora Bora

Advice for landlords?
We are here to look after you the best we can so please let us know if we need to change anything to cater to your needs. 

Advice for tenants?
Please put any maintenance to us in writing and if you do call to leave a message on our mobile it helps to let us know which property you are calling from.  We know our tenants well but not that well.

Three things you’d choose to take with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

What would people say is the most surprising thing about you?
That I have had a diverse business background

Any favourite quotes or sayings that help keep you motivated?
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm

Favourite travel destination?
Amalfi Coast

Most used emoji?
Smiley face - because more people need to smile

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Community Living Over The Festive Season

With the festive season well and truly underway we thought we would put together some tips on how to best manage community living over this time. From loud parties to leaving your home behind as you head off on vacation to knowing who to contact when your OC manager is on holiday, here are some important things to keep in mind:
  • If you are having Christmas/New Year’s parties, it is courteous to let your neighbours know in advance and do your best to keep the noise down late at night.
  • When sharing bins with others it is vital that Christmas wrapping/packaging be disposed of appropriately – recycle where possible, break down/flatten boxes and don’t overload the communal bins. And wrap up those prawn shells!
  • Ensure pets are properly looked after if you are going away.
  • It is a very good idea to leave a key with a friend or family member and inform your OC manager of who to contact in your absence in case there is an emergency. You wouldn’t want your fantastic summer holiday cut short by a burst water pipe or broken alarm.
  • Ensure all items on balconies/courtyards are well secured in case of summer storms.
  • OC Managers/building managers all need a holiday break too… so make sure you know who to contact in an emergency on public holidays.
 -Caitlin See, OC Manager

Back to basics – What is an “Owners Corporation”?

In the Dixon Kestles OC department, we often receive the comment from owners and tenants who we assist that “Dixon Kestles is our Owners Corporation”. This is not entirely accurate…the Owners Corporation is YOU!
The Owners Corporation is an entity that is made up of all of the lot owners in a strata scheme. To use the analogy of a company share, the Owners Corporation is the company and each of the owners (members) are the shareholders. As a member, you have both a responsibility to contribute to the Owners Corporation and uphold the relevant legislation; and an entitlement to a portion of the assets held by the Owners Corporation.
The ‘Common Property’, which is all of the land that is not privately owned by individual owners, belongs to the Owners Corporation. It is in all members’ interest to ensure that the common property is maintained and well managed as it is an asset belonging to the members as a group.
The Owners Corporation runs as a democratic system, and each member has the right to vote on matters relating to the building and how funds are spent.  A Committee of Management is elected at each Annual General Meeting, who represent the whole group and are often delegated the power to make all kinds of decisions as to the administering of the building.
The overarching goal of an Owners Corporation is twofold: to maintain and improve property values; and to maintain and improve the quality of life for those residing in the building. Dixon Kestles are engaged by Owners Corporations to assist in achieving these goals and ensure that they are meeting their legislative obligations.
- Caitlin See, Owners Corporation Manager

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Meet the Team: Rebecca Fergus

We sat down with our Associate Director, Rebecca Fergus, and found out a bit more about her favourite travel destinations, emojis and quotes. 

What is your role/position at DK?
I'm an Associate Director and I head up the commercial property management department - the team consists of 4 property managers, 2 lease administrators and 1 trust account person. I have been at DK for just over 10 years and have 20 years' experience in commercial property management. 

Where would we find you on your day off?
Day off!?!   No, doesn't happen. But at weekends I can usually be found on a golf course, somewhere within a 2 hour radius of Melbourne. I love the game!!

Best thing about working at DK
The ethos. The culture. The team. And the little bit of fun we throw into the mixing pot too.  It's important to like coming to work and enjoying it. 

What are you watching on Netflix? 
Ummm!  Netflix!!   I'm paying a monthly fee for it, but never watch it!  Need to fix that!!

Personal mantra?
I think I can, I know I can. 
I think I can, I know I can. 

Dream travel destination?
That's an easy one - I was there only a few weeks ago - Italy, especially the Amalfi Coast.  But anywhere on a plane. The further away the better!

Advice for commercial landlords?
When choosing a commercial property manager, you need to be comfortable with their experience and their knowledge, along with their approach and manner when dealing with people. Don't let fees and charges cloud your decision making - you pay for what you get when it comes to professional advice, service and ability.  

Advice for commercial tenants?
Your property manager is the messenger - please don't shoot the messenger. 

Three things you’d choose to take with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
1.  Well, if you knew you were going to be stranded on a desert island, you'd take a boat with you ... wouldn't you??  So, i would take a boat and I'd have it fully stocked with all of life's little luxuries, and necessities. 
2.  My mobile phone in its solar powered battery charger cover
3. My 7 iron
The more I think about it, being stranded on this desert island could be my dream travel destination from your question above!!

What would people say is the most surprising thing about you?
When they find out that I really have curly hair!!!

Any favourite quotes or sayings that help keep you motivated?
-If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well. 
-the more you put into life, the more you get out
-treat people the way YOU would like to be treated, not the way you ARE treated (more people need to adopt this motto!)
-what goes around, comes around
-Laughter is the best medicine. 

Favourite travel destination?
I had two weeks on the Amalfi Coast in September -  I love the wine, the food, the people, the rugged coastline, the narrow laneways and steps, the climate, the bluest skies and water, their relaxed way of life -  I'd go back in a heartbeat. 

Most used emoji?
😘😘  only with family and friends.  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Preparation for buying a property

Preparation for buying a property

Buying a home is likely to be the biggest investment you will ever make.  For first time buyers this process can be especially daunting. It is therefore essential to ensure that the right steps are taken to prepare for the purchase – this will make buying property just that little bit easier.
Here are some of our tips on how to be well prepared when buying a property:

Understand what you can and cannot afford
Before you begin your property search it's important to work out exactly how much you can afford to spend on your new home. Many homebuyers do this by calculating if they can afford to pay the monthly mortgage repayments. However, there are a multitude of additional costs to consider with the home ownership process. These include legal fees, stamp duty as well as ongoing costs incurred as a property owner such as repairs, rates, insurance, body corporate etc. By taking all of these additional costs into account you will end up with a much more accurate picture of what you can truly afford.

Do your research and understand the market
Before buying into a specific market, a sound understanding of the market as a whole is crucial. In addition to this, being well informed about the key trends and conditions of your local area, can help you to make a more informed purchase decision and potentially eliminate buyer’s remorse down the track.  The internet is a fantastic resource if you know where to look!

Here are a few resources we recommend:

Property portals:  All of the leading Australian property portals provide current listings as well as sold directories so you can view the latest sales results in your local area. These can be used to develop a clear picture of market conditions and help shape expectations. In addition to this, they are a great source of advice in the form of blogs and articles. Examples of property portals include and

Data sites: If you want to take it one step further and really engage with the data then property data sites will be an invaluable resource.  Sites like, Residex and others provide access to market trends, as well as historical sales results, median prices and a range of other information (some of which is free and other resources which incur small fees).

Agent & buyer advocate websites: These can also be a great source of information, with many individuals and companies blogging about recent local market activity.

Understand the in’s and out’s of buying
Once you’ve found a home that fits your needs and your budget, the next step is buying the property – this process will differ depending on the method of sale.  It is important to familiarise yourself with the various buying methods to understand your rights/obligations when purchasing via this method.  Understanding this upfront may help you to avoid making a costly mistake down the track.