03 Sep First Impressions and Access Control when buying in a Sectional Title Scheme
Buying in a Sectional Title Scheme, or apartment block as they are better known, is a popular category of accommodation to purchase for investors and first-time buyers alike. There are some very important aspects to consider before purchasing in this type of block, among others, the consideration of the health of the Body Corporate’s Financials and having sight of previous AGM minutes and notes. One thing that many buyers do not consider and one which could really make a difference in the time you own an apartment is the consideration of the block’s first impression and by this, I mean the foyer and access control measures.
Many buyer’s take for granted that the security or ‘’concierge’’ at the front desk, responsible for access control, should be well trained and is familiar with policies and procedures. The fact is, this is often simply not the case. As an agent, I have had dealings with more front desk receptions in Cape Town apartment blocks than most will in a lifetime. Many Sectional title blocks are content to have someone on their front desk who is simply not a benefit to the building’s first impression and has zero interest in the well-being of the block or the occupiers.
Here are my top tips for what to consider about the front desk, foyer and access control before you purchase:
- Engage directly with the person behind the desk, if the block has manned security and a reception desk and ascertain their level of efficiency – often the person nominated to be the ‘first contact’ for the block is usually highly untrained and could not answer specifics about the building or access control policies or evacuation procedures. A savvy, friendly and ‘’switched-on’’ security person or concierge is a huge plus.
- Note very closely the general state of repair and cleanliness of the foyer and desk – If the space is cluttered dirty and unkempt, the first impression of the block should come into question.
- Notice how easily it may be for a ”non-resident” to gain access to the block, strict security for visitors and contractors should be important. Everyone without an access disc or permission to access should sign in.
- It is helpful to note how long the security or reception staff have been at the block or if these are rotated often, a high turnover of different staff and replacements should raise concern.
- Is the service outsourced or is the block employing the person directly? Is the person invested or even interested in the well-being of the block?
- If your first impression of this aspect of entry into a block of flats is poor, I would think twice about buying there.
- Take particular note of AV or general recorded video surveillance. These are of great benefit to a block.
- It is worth asking about the staff’s training expertise in the event of emergency and evacuation procedure.
- Remember to also ask about an ”on-site” maintenance person who may be on hand for issues in the block. Outsourced maintenance is not ideal and an onsite building manager is usually advantageous to a block.
It is important to note that many blocks struggle with access control in a society where petty crimes and opportunistic individuals often targeting environments like these. Many Bodies Corporate find the staffing for these reception environments a frustration but the blocks who get it right can significantly ad value for owners, not to mention a more pleasant and safer experience for visitors and residents alike.