This article on things that raise a red flag during a strata search has been supplied by Lisa Rutland, MyBodyCorpReport.com.au.
Strata searching is not rocket science. Actually, it’s not any sort of science. Doing a strata search is about reading and anyone can do it.
When I learnt strata searching a very knowledgeable lady took me out into the field and walked me through the process. She then spent the next month sitting in the corner waiting for me to ask a question whilst I got on with the job.
It was the best way to learn because body corporate records tell their own tales.
At heart, all body corporates are communities, groups of people making decisions for and on their own behalf. The legislation requires those decisions take certain formats and be recorded in certain ways and the end result is a fascinating history the life of a building and it’s owners.
Extracting and reporting on that story is what a strata search is all about.
How A Pre-purchase Strata Search Is Done
Doing a strata search is very easy. The steps are:
- Obtain written authority – body corporate records are private information and may only be viewed by authorised persons (a potential purchaser is definitely authorised)
- Make an appointment with the Secretary or Body Corporate Manager to view the records
- Attend the appointment and pay the fee
- Read through the records and make a note of anything out of the ordinary
It really is that simple.
Related article: What is a Strata Inspection Report?
So, why doesn’t everyone do their own strata search?
I spoke with another searcher recently and she estimated that round 30% of buyers get or do a strata search of the body corporate prior to purchasing.
That’s an awful lot of people buying without researching.
I’m not sure exactly why buyers don’t bother (if you have any insight please let me know) but one of the main factors seems to be lack of knowledge about the ability or advisability of investigating the community they’re about to invest in. The LookUpStrata website is intended to address this problem.
And then there’s the cost.
Buying a property is stressful and expensive and a strata search is just another cost.
Can I do my own strata search?
There is no reason that buyers can’t do searches themselves. OK, body corporate records are long and sometimes really involved, but that’s not a reason to avoid them. Flicking through the documents and reading minutes and correspondence may be time-consuming but it’s not difficult.
And, that’s exactly what we search agents do, only with the added wrinkle of writing a report.
Interpreting what it all means can be a much harder prospect, but there are plenty of resources, such as this website, that can help. And of course, your Solicitor is already involved in the conveyancing process.
Body corporates are communal and every decision is meant to be transparent, consequently minutes of meetings are sent to all lot owners. Reading the minutes is how you as a lot owner will keep in touch with your investment anyway.
Why hire a search agent then?
It may seem there’s no reason to hire a search agent, but rest assured, we have lots of validity. Some benefits of appointing an agent are:
- Geography – purchasers don’t always buy where they live so an agent on the spot may simply be necessary
- Speed – search agents are quick and efficient
- Knowledge – a reputable search agent (like me) will have a thorough knowledge of body corporate processes and can query anything that stands out as … unusual
- Relationships – search agents build relationships with body corporate managers which means we’re more likely to get our questions answered promptly
- Convenience – some people just flat out don’t have the time to do a search themselves.
Whether you hire an agent or do it yourself getting a strata search is important. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a body corporate and some are best to avoid completely if you can.
Related article: A Buyer can do their own Strata Report … fact or fiction?
Equally, a unit is a property investment that requires a higher level of commitment than a house and the earlier you can get involved the better.
Read next: 15 “Red Flags” In A Strata Search