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Old 19.10.2020, 21:00
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Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

Hello, me again.

Last time, I asked a question related to potentially buying a place under the flight path. I didn't expect the discussion would be so lively, and, extremely useful.

Now we have set our eyes on an apartment built in 70s. It has a vast living area with a nice high ceiling and a sound facing balcony, which made me fall in love. It's a duplex in the attic. 2 bedrooms are on the same level with the salon and kitchen, one more in the mezzanine.

The whole complex was built in the late 70s, and I suppose back then it was considered a "luxury" residence. To be honest, it still looks quite well maintained to me. Freshly painted outside walls, very manicured garden. Located in a quiet but well connected area in Geneva. Low taxes too.

But my husband is very hesitant about this apartment. He thinks that over time these older apartments will lose value and eventually it won't be a sound investment. The charges are also high. Nearly 1100 CHF. But that can be offset by lower taxes.

What would you say? Do you think all these apartments built before 1980 should be a no-go zone? Even in a sough after area?

BTW, I was trying to "thank" authors but never found the button.. Can anyone please help me?

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Old 19.10.2020, 21:37
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

I think the thank button appears after you have dome more than X posts. Could be 10 so it may be there now.

I really don’t see any flat in Geneva losing value. The demand far outstrips the supply.
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Old 19.10.2020, 21:42
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

A couple of things that I guess I would consider are:

1. Does the attic apartment have good airflow, with lots of windows on most walls, etc. so that it hopefully won't become uncomfortably warm in the summer?

2. Will it heat well in the winter? (Is it insulated well and have a good heating system, etc.).

3. Is there good water pressure in the sinks and showers/baths and a decent-sized hot water tank?

4. You also might want to inquire about when the roof was last replaced (if ever) and also if they've ever had problems with mold.

5. Get a good, thorough inspection before committing to anything.
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Old 19.10.2020, 21:47
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

"Anything built before 1980" would rule out the centre of most cities, and a lot of really classic places.

It surely comes down to the usual factors - location, build quality, location, price and of course location.

It sounds like you really like it, the description of the outside sounds good, and you can probably see some price history unlike with really new ones where it's hard to tell.
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Old 19.10.2020, 21:51
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

No, but not because of the 70s, but because it is an apartment.
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Old 19.10.2020, 22:15
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

Fairly good tips! The salon level has many huge windows with the high ceiling. There is also a fireplace in the salon. The building is pretty small. Only 4 levels in total. So water pressure isn't a problem apparently.

I do fear it can get quite warm in the mezzanine in the summer since it is right under the roof. I need to ask the agent whether the roof was ever changed.

The whole place feels quite well built so I was pleasantly surprised. When I said "built before 1980", I had these huge shoddily-built apartment blocks built in the 60s and 70s in mind. Yet I know this is still Switzerland. You hardly have any inner city ghettos here..


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A couple of things that I guess I would consider are:

1. Does the attic apartment have good airflow, with lots of windows on most walls, etc. so that it hopefully won't become uncomfortably warm in the summer?

2. Will it heat well in the winter? (Is it insulated well and have a good heating system, etc.).

3. Is there good water pressure in the sinks and showers/baths and a decent-sized hot water tank?

4. You also might want to inquire about when the roof was last replaced (if ever) and also if they've ever had problems with mold.

5. Get a good, thorough inspection before committing to anything.
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Old 19.10.2020, 22:36
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

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Hello, me again.

Last time, I asked a question related to potentially buying a place under the flight path. I didn't expect the discussion would be so lively, and, extremely useful.

Now we have set our eyes on an apartment built in 70s. It has a vast living area with a nice high ceiling and a sound facing balcony, which made me fall in love. It's a duplex in the attic. 2 bedrooms are on the same level with the salon and kitchen, one more in the mezzanine.

The whole complex was built in the late 70s, and I suppose back then it was considered a "luxury" residence. To be honest, it still looks quite well maintained to me. Freshly painted outside walls, very manicured garden. Located in a quiet but well connected area in Geneva. Low taxes too.

But my husband is very hesitant about this apartment. He thinks that over time these older apartments will lose value and eventually it won't be a sound investment. The charges are also high. Nearly 1100 CHF. But that can be offset by lower taxes.

What would you say? Do you think all these apartments built before 1980 should be a no-go zone? Even in a sough after area?

BTW, I was trying to "thank" authors but never found the button.. Can anyone please help me?

THANK YOU here if I still don't manage that later.
The age of the building is less relevant than under which regime it was built. There was quite a building boom in the sixties-eighties and standards certainly dropped, especially when the blocks were intended as HBM, HLM, even some HCMs were pretty shoddily built and quickly thrown up.
Those are types of subsidised housing in case you're new to Geneva. B is the lowest class and intended for low-income families, C the highest; after ~20 years they revert to the normal rental system and can then be bought and sold. I'd avoid any of those like the plague.

Age certainly doesn't necessarily mean that its value will drop though, some of the most sought after and expensive places in Geneva were built in the 1870s, not the 1970s!!

It sounds as though this particular flat has been well-maintained, but I'd definitely recommend getting a surveyor's report.

Be warned that a bedroom under the eaves can become unbeatably hot in the summer months so checking there's decent roof insulation is vital. And you never know what's hidden behind the skirting-boards or kitchen cabinetss; asbestos springs to mind from that period. It's probably okay as long as it's not disturbed, but a nightmare if you're planning work.
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Old 19.10.2020, 23:36
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

We did.

Tom
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Old 20.10.2020, 07:17
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

In general terms there is no reason a 70s apartment will depreciate any more than any other apartment. Your renovation costs maybe higher but this is offset against superior locations in built up areas. I have project managed several properties from this era and if you are aware of the costs involved to bring it up to current standards then superior returns are possible if the purchase price reflects this.

Ignore how the property looks apart from room layout and size factoring in some wall removals to open up the normally closed kitchen. The areas of concern are the electrical, heating, plumbing systems and layout which are passed their used by date unless they have been updated in the last 10 years and are the highest cost items to replace. The other major item to consider is the current building corporation fund and whether that is sufficient for the planned and required future building renovations (roof, insulation, windows, boiler etc.). This will be reflected in the common nebencost and minutes from corporate body meetings.

I recently looked at a 70s holiday apartment that was Chf300k under valuation as there were major shortfalls in these areas so nebencosts were going to double for 3 years and major building renovation for 2 years as there were risks involved in buying it. But after factoring in these costs (apart from the inconvenient) it was an amazing opportunity and return on investment.
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Old 20.10.2020, 08:04
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

The major future cost is likely to be renovations. It may even be in a flat you own, you don't have a choice and the whole building is renovated. This could be just painting the outside, or go much deeper.

Is there a fund for renovations?

The other problem could be sound proofing...
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Old 20.10.2020, 08:39
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

Say you bought a flat in a building with 10 flats. It's time for major renovation, each flat has to contribute 50'000. You are out of spare cash, what happens? Will you forced to sell and move out?
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Old 20.10.2020, 09:50
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

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Is there a fund for renovations?
There is in our building.

Tom
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Old 20.10.2020, 09:56
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

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Say you bought a flat in a building with 10 flats. It's time for major renovation, each flat has to contribute 50'000. You are out of spare cash, what happens? Will you forced to sell and move out?
When we owned a flat, we paid into a renovation fund each year. When we sold the flat, we got that money returned and the new owners had to buy into it as part of the flat purchase.

Whether there would have been enough money to cover every eventuality is another thing.

I'm not an architect so it's an assumption I'm making that a flat roof of an apartment block would not last nearly as long as the tiled roof of a house.
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Old 20.10.2020, 10:00
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

The price for this duplex is indeed very attractive, size-wise and location wise. I would say it is 20% lower than the market price.

We will have to do some work like replacing the parquet, refreshing the walls, and putting in some more contemporary looking bathroom cabinets. Potentially getting rid of a false wall installed by the current owner on the mezzanine so as to bring in more air. But there is no problem with the structure. The kitchen is pretty new and ok to me. I think it can look quite nice after some work. The agent gave an estimate of something like CHF 80,000 for a thorough project. Considering the property is undervalued, that might not be a bad investment.

The concern is indeed how healthy the renovation fund is and whether it has enough money to finance any major work planned in the near future.

Like mentioned, at nearly CHF1,100 per month, the charges are quite high. Although I know it is normal for older buildings as they don't have the best energy efficiency compared with today's newer buildings. The PPE surface is 195 sqm though.




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In general terms there is no reason a 70s apartment will depreciate any more than any other apartment. Your renovation costs maybe higher but this is offset against superior locations in built up areas. I have project managed several properties from this era and if you are aware of the costs involved to bring it up to current standards then superior returns are possible if the purchase price reflects this.

Ignore how the property looks apart from room layout and size factoring in some wall removals to open up the normally closed kitchen. The areas of concern are the electrical, heating, plumbing systems and layout which are passed their used by date unless they have been updated in the last 10 years and are the highest cost items to replace. The other major item to consider is the current building corporation fund and whether that is sufficient for the planned and required future building renovations (roof, insulation, windows, boiler etc.). This will be reflected in the common nebencost and minutes from corporate body meetings.

I recently looked at a 70s holiday apartment that was Chf300k under valuation as there were major shortfalls in these areas so nebencosts were going to double for 3 years and major building renovation for 2 years as there were risks involved in buying it. But after factoring in these costs (apart from the inconvenient) it was an amazing opportunity and return on investment.
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Old 20.10.2020, 10:09
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

I would have anything built before (i believe) 1997 checked for asbestos.
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Old 20.10.2020, 10:16
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

Because of our price range, we ONLY looked at houses from the ‘70s. Do you have a friend who is in any part of the construction business? Or who redid his/her own house? We have a carpenter friend who, along with another family, spend a long time looking for an old farm to purchase and then redid said farm mostly the two men and their wives. This friend agreed to come along with us to one particular house we were smitten by but that needed a lot of renovations. His help was very precious. Otherwise we would have walked into a renovation nightmare. Instead we found a house still from the ‘70s but better made and better maintained.

You don’t need to check for asbestos. But if there is any tiling from the period then it will have asbestos in it. As long as you don’t drill into it or tear it out you’re fine. It’s only once renovations begin that you need to do full testing for asbestos—and that gets expensive to remove. Any flooring will likely have it as well, even parquet. You can sometimes get around dealing with it by finding the kind of flooring you can lay down over the parquet, or potentially by sanding, staining and refinishing the parquet instead of removing it.

Also, beware agents’ estimations. Not to be too cynical, but with the two houses we were very serious about, the agents gave us completely bogus estimations on the renovation costs. Perhaps not all agents are this way, but they gave us nearly half the estimate of what it likely would be on the house we did purchase. So it is important to have an idea of what you want to do on what time frame and how much it is likely to cost.
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Old 20.10.2020, 10:37
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

The agent, in theory, is working for the current owner - not you. Don’t expect them to be honest.
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Old 20.10.2020, 10:45
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

Room size is generally better in 1970's apartment & houses.

I know a 'small' London terraced house that was changed from 3 bedrooms & 1 bathroom, 1 toilet into 5 bedrooms & 3 bathrooms! Redesigning the staircase made space enabled 2 extra bedrooms, 1 on each floor. A toilet, storage under the stairs & hallway got 'lost' Every room was smaller but 'modern'
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Old 20.10.2020, 11:24
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

Counterintuitive isn't it? I would expect that family size was in general bigger back then, hence there must be a need for more rooms. But actually no. We saw some houses with big living rooms but only 2 bedrooms.




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Room size is generally better in 1970's apartment & houses.

I know a 'small' London terraced house that was changed from 3 bedrooms & 1 bathroom, 1 toilet into 5 bedrooms & 3 bathrooms! Redesigning the staircase made space enabled 2 extra bedrooms, 1 on each floor. A toilet, storage under the stairs & hallway got 'lost' Every room was smaller but 'modern'
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Old 20.10.2020, 11:36
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Re: Would you buy an apartment built in 70s?

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Counterintuitive isn't it? I would expect that family size was in general bigger back then, hence there must be a need for more rooms. But actually no. We saw some houses with big living rooms but only 2 bedrooms.
Back then people had hobbies and interests like model making, sowing, radio repair etc that required some room for work tables etc. Nowadays everyone hangs on the couch with a phone, no need for room. For me this explains also the tiny houses fad...
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