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Sydney’s housing shortage made its way to the top of the price chain this year, forcing high-end buyers to dig deep and resulting in one of the best-performing trophy home markets on record.
The top 20 house sales alone totalled more than $845 million worth of real estate, nudging last year’s all-time high of $864 million, and there were a record 55 deals worth more than $20 million.
The Queen Anne Federation mansion Leura is this year’s highest house price sale at $76 million.Credit: Domain
But unlike the broader housing market, there are key differences to how Sydney’s trophy homes were bought and sold this year. For starters, nine of the top 20 house sales were sold privately, foregoing any marketing, and those that were advertised took an average of 20 months to sell.
“Half the top-end stock is off market, and that’s possible because there are few good properties for sale, and so many buyers at that level,” said Simon Cohen, of Cohen Handler buyer’s agency.
While there are plenty of expensive homes left to languish on the market, Cohen said there was a clear preference among buyers for family homes in Bellevue Hill, waterfront houses in Point Piper and houses with Harbour Bridge views in Vaucluse.
Bellevue Hill emerged as the highest growth suburb, thanks not only to the year’s top sale of the Leura Federation mansion for $76 million to cash buyer, flower businessman Leo Lynch, but also with at least 16 sales for $20 million or more this year.
“Bellevue Hill did well on the back of a couple of families trading at the high end, but also because values are in catch-up mode after being undervalued for years,” said Pillinger’s Brad Pillinger.
Of the five interest rate rises this year, four were in the first half of the year, which created a level of economic uncertainty among some buyers, said D’Leanne Lewis, of Laing+Simmons Double Bay.
“But in the second half of the year the market took off because by then people had come to terms with the fact rates were going up, and they knew what the Reserve Bank was hoping to achieve, and that was all the certainty the market needed.”
A few key family names dominated the most expensive transactions. The Lynch family secured the first and third-highest sales results when they bought for $76 million and sold down the hill for $61.5 million.
The Point Piper mansion Akuna was sold by Sydney FC owner Scott Barlow and wife Alina for $60 million.
Property investor Rebecca Lacey sold for $68 million in Point Piper to LaserClinics co-founder Alistair Champion to buy in Vaucluse for $40.5 million, and Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow sold in Point Piper for $60 million to buy in Vaucluse for $39 million.
Rag traders Daniel and Georgia Contos purchased three houses in Vaucluse for $37.5 million, $26 million and $25 million. Fintech entrepreneur Stephen Dash’s $33 million purchase of the Breuer family home was followed by his purchase of the Breuers’ two townhouses in front that took his total outlay to $47.8 million.
Paula Liveris, wife of corporate heavyweight Andrew Liveris, bought two houses in Bellevue Hill for $28 million and $25 million, the latter of which was then resold for $27 million.
Despite a handful of dominant local players, BlackDiamondz’ Monika Tu said that overall local buyers were outnumbered by international buyers.
The landmark Tamarama house Lang Syne was the fifth most expensive house sale of the year at $45 million.Credit: Louie Douvis
“Overseas buyers with Australian residency are returning to live here permanently, partly because of the high vacancy fees but also because there is no longer much opportunity for property developers in China,” said Tu.
Foreign investors who leave property vacant for at least 180 days a year face a fee of $28,200 for every $1 million in value on a property. On a $20 million property, that equates to more than $500,000.
Those fees are expected to rise six-fold next year under legislation proposed by the Albanese government aimed at freeing up rental stock and encouraging the construction of new housing.
Sotheby’s Michael Pallier said the international buyer market was fuelled by the return of migration and the low Australian dollar, trading at US65¢ this week.
The Marara estate at Avalon Beach sold for $40 million, making it the most expensive sale outside the eastern suburbs.Credit: Domain
Mosman did not rank on the top 20 house sales list, but there were sales in suburbs outside the rarefied harbourside eastern suburbs. In Clontarf a house owned by one of Cambodia’s ruling families sold for $32.18 million, Mortgage Choice co-founder Peter Higgins sold the Marara estate in Avalon Beach sold for about $40 million, and the Lane Oroton fashion empire family sold The Range estate near Byron Bay for $37 million but settled the property portion of the deal at $33.65 million.
The most expensive apartment sale was almost $30 million for an off-the-plan penthouse in the boutique Billyard Ave development at Elizabeth Bay to yachtie and former head of UBS Japan Matt Allen.
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