Recently the team at Strata Choice had the privilege of attending the First Annual General Meeting of a remarkable development situated in the heart of Macquarie Park.
This milestone event is a barometer to how owners have experienced taking possession of their new homes and investments. The “FAGM” (as we like to call it) gives a voice to what is front of mind and most important around the management of their new property.
Stuart Denney, our Associate Director of New Developments at Strata Choice shares his 6 key takeaways from this event.
Owners need a depth of support to manage their asset
An apartment is a sizable investment and owners want to see that the value of this asset is both protected and enhanced. There were 10 team members present at the meeting, 4 from Strata Choice, 4 representing the building managers and a further 2 from the utilities provider. All pitched in at different times during the meeting, providing advice and real solutions responding to the questions from the new owners. In an increasingly complex landscape, a depth and diversity of expertise is vital to meet the needs of the owners and give best practice solutions throughout the ownership journey.
It was evident that owners had purchased due to the long history and solid reputation of the developer / builder. Having the developer representative at the meeting reinforced this. There was a real pride in the development: for owners it gave security about the long-term asset value. For the developer / builder, it’s simple, a great product means repeat business. Owners took further comfort knowing that a Strata Building Inspection Bond was in place.
The fact there is now a fixed mechanism for inspections and repairs to be completed and reported on, paid for by the developer and overseen by Fair Trading, provided tangible comfort when defects were discussed. This is further enhanced when there is a transparent reporting process in place from the outset and a responsiveness from the developer / builder to issues raised so disputes are avoided down the line.
Community is at the core
Often those who nominate for the Committee are elected simply because they are the only ones who put up their hand to volunteer. Nevertheless, their role is crucial to the healthy functioning of a scheme, not only in terms of management and oversight of an Owners Corporation but also creating a sense of place. It was encouraging to hear collective agreement when one of the newly elected Committee suggested regular events be held to build community. Everyone shared a desire for neighbours to get to know each other and break down natural human barriers.
The developer had the foresight to create some excellent and well-planned communal spaces so it will be relatively easy to hold these gatherings on site. Our work is to provide clear guidance needed for decision making and have solid processes and tools to allow the easy, efficient, and effective engagement with the Strata Committee and owners for the healthy operation of the building.
Visitor parking remains a hot button issue
Fair use and easy access for friends, family, health workers, or maintenance contractors is what residents want to be in place. Controls and systems were initiated from building occupation to prevent the inevitable frustrations that follow from misuse and sometimes those simple misunderstandings of the rules in place. Guidance was sort to tailor controls that best suit the needs of residents which can be different from site to site.
Resident safety is paramount
Owners saw the value in a physical after-hours presence in addition to their full-time building management team. In this particular development, owners were willing to contract additional security services even though this made up approximately 15% of their annual budget. Whether it be manned security, or a comprehensive CCTV and smart system, owners and residents want and are willing to pay for a high level of protection for their home.
Electric Vehicle (EV) charging is not just a wish list item
The developer had the foresight to lay out the necessary cabling and systems infrastructure to allow the Owners Corporation to formally vote for the installation of its own shared charging facilities. This was at no cost bar ongoing maintenance. The only questions asked on this were who would pay the EV power charge costs and ensuring fair use of car spaces. Provisioning for EV in buildings is now a fundamental expectation.
Whether it’s a boutique scheme or a large multilayered property, I am always proud of the collaboration within our team and all the stakeholders who make that high pressure transition from development to new home as much of a fair-weather experience as possible.
Individually we don’t have all the answers but with our trusted partners we continue to learn, grow and work to build community that thrives.
– Stuart Denney
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stuart is a highly experienced Strata Managing Agent. For more than 15 years he has been working with developers to assist in the successful establishment of strata and community subdivisions ranging from small residential to some of Sydney’s largest and most complex mixed-use developments.
Stuart’s passion lies in creating thriving communities and excels in offering guidance on the essential framework needed to ensure sustainable, efficient, and effective management of every development.