Buying a flat – practical tips you often won’t find in the contract..

Those interested in buying an apartment often rely only on the information given to them by the real estate agency or the property owner. However, neither the seller nor the real estate agent is often interested in sharing certain information with the potential buyer. In this article, we will advise you on exactly what to look for.

7 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

1. Technical condition of the apartment and the house

First of all, get to know the technical condition of the apartment. In addition to the condition of the apartment itself, it is also a good idea to get to know the general condition of the house. Pay particular attention to:

  • Moisture: Look for signs of a moisture problem (dew on the windows, damp walls or incipient mould).
  • Divorce: Check the quality and condition of electrical wiring and ductwork. Ideally, get someone experienced to help you.
  • Noise: Pay attention to the level of noise in the apartment and from neighboring units. Thin walls or inadequate soundproofing can make your life very unpleasant.
  • Elevators: Check the condition of the elevator; after all, you don’t want to be moving furniture up stairs or lugging heavy bags of groceries up to the fifth floor every day.
  • Structural integrity: Also focus on the building itself and its condition. Look for cracks in the walls, ceilings or floors. This is because these can be a sign of poor structural integrity and therefore the need for costly repairs in the future.
  • Common areas: The common areas in an apartment building also play a role. Check their condition, whether they are well maintained and regularly cleaned. Look out for damp problems and possible mould. If the communal areas are mouldy, then there is likely to be a damp problem in your flat too.

Tip: Read also our other article, in which we generally discuss what to check before buying a property.

2. Legal status of the apartment and house

As well as good technical condition, the legal condition of the apartment is equally important. Therefore, have it checked thoroughly. You can find basic information in the extract from the Land Registry. In addition, check whether there are any foreclosures on the apartment.

In addition to this, the contractual relationship with the seller is absolutely crucial, as is your ability to withdraw from the purchase contract in extreme cases. It is extremely important to set up the payment of the purchase price correctly, so that the buyer has a guarantee that the seller will not “run away” with the money.

Are you planning to buy a property?

Don’t rely on what a real estate agent tells you and rather get a professional to verify the legal status of the property you are buying. At Dostupný advokát, we can provide you with a complete contractual and legal service related to the purchase of a property. We can handle it within 48 hours, flawlessly and professionally.

3. Cooperative apartment – check the conditions in the cooperative

If you are buying a cooperative flat, you must take into account that you do not become the owner of the flat, but only the owner of a share in the cooperative. You are therefore, in a way, just a tenant of the flat. The co-operative therefore plays a significant role and it is not worth neglecting to check the conditions in the co-operative.

First of all, you need to find out whether the cooperative has an annuity, i.e. a regular debt repayment. Often a cooperative goes into debt because of the renovation or construction of the house itself. But in addition, you should also carefully study the statutes of the cooperative and other important documents that describe how everything works.

Tip: Are you a member of the committee of a condominium or the board of directors of a housing cooperative? Do you deal with complex legal situations with owners or members of the cooperative that you do not know how to handle? Or do you believe that someone has taken the wrong legal action against you? Arrange with us to represent you at a meeting of owners or members of a condominium association.

4. Apartment to personal ownership – check the property situation in the house

In the case of so-called personal ownership, it is important to find out how much the monthly contribution to the so-called repair fund is and what voting rights you get and whether you will be able to influence the management of the house with your vote. It is not a bad idea to find out who owns the other flats in the house. You can avoid problems with loud guests in apartments rented out via Airbnb, for example. It is also important to check whether the HOA has any debts and, if so, how much needs to be paid back.

5. Find out as much information as possible about life in and around the house

Think about the fact that you are not only living in your apartment, but also in and around the house. For this reason, it is worth finding out the following information:

  • Reason for selling the apartment: Try to find out why the current owner is selling the apartment. This can give you an insight into any problems with the property or neighbourhood that you should be aware of.
  • Relationships in the house: If possible, talk to potential neighbors. Not only will you find out who lives in the house, but you may also learn important information about relationships or existing problems.

Tip: If you haven’t avoided problem neighbours, all is not lost. Read how to deal with loud neighbours and how to soundproof your apartment.

  • Surroundings of the apartment: you will take a tour of the neighbourhood where the apartment is located. Do you feel safe, clean and green? Are there all amenities nearby or at least good transport links? Then you win.
  • Future developments. You don’t want to buy a flat on a future stretch of new motorway. On the other hand, such a new park with a playground would certainly be a big plus.

6. Find out about debts on the apartment/house

As we mentioned in the previous points, be sure to find out any information about debts hanging on the apartment or condo building. This can include repair fund arrears, tax arrears, owner’s liens and other unpleasantness that might otherwise take you by unpleasant surprise.

Tip: Wondering how to buy a mortgage-financed apartment? Then you must not miss our next article, in which you will learn the conditions for obtaining a mortgage. We also give you advice on how to make the right choice and what to prepare for.

How to get the information?

You can get information from an attorney, a technician. You can also try asking the seller directly, another resident of the building, or even from members of the co-op or HOA body. However, this is usually more problematic because the willingness to disclose inside information may not be very great. You can also ask the seller for minutes of meetings in the house or check public sources.

The list goes on and on. But we consider the above to be key, so good luck in acquiring a condo. If you don’t know what to do, we at The Affordable Advocate are alwayshappy to help.

Download the free e-book 5 tips to buy or sell property risk-free and go smoothly through the process of selling or buying a house, flat and land.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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