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A Vaucluse house that was a frozen asset in one of the largest tax frauds in Australian history sold at auction on Saturday for $13.9 million.
The mortgagee-in-possession sale at 20 Fitzwilliam Road had no price guide. The five-bedroom, three-level house came with a swimming pool and an internal lift.
The auction was quick to open at $10 million and six parties placed fast bids on the home in largely $100,000 increments. Auctioneer Stuart Davies called it on the market at $12.8 million then two parties raised the price further until the hammer fell at $13.9 million.
The home was last purchased for $8.75 million in 2017 by Rachel Keary who was a former business associate of Adam Cranston and Jason Onley.
Cranston and Onley were jailed for a maximum of 15 years each in August for their parts in the $105 million Plutus Payroll scam, the proceeds of which were splashed on luxury cars, a private plane, and properties in the Hunter Region and Sutherland Shire, but Keary is their associate from another venture that was not involved in the notorious Plutus fraud. Keary was in no way involved in their crimes.
The scam was unravelled during Operation Elbrus in 2017, coincidentally just a few months after Keary purchased the Vaucluse residence on the prized Fitzwilliam Road.
Freeze orders were lodged on the title in 2017 in the immediate aftermath of the Cranston investigation, however, no enforcement action has been taken since. There is no suggestion the house purchase is connected in any way to Cranston and Onley’s crimes.
Keary, who has not been charged with any offence, is no longer in control of the property.
The home sold through Sotheby’s Michael Pallier who declined to comment.
Elsewhere, a downsizing family paid $4 million for a luxurious modern home in Rozelle that includes a studio with its own private entry which is perfect for their young adult son.
Some of the other interested bidders for 6 Charlotte Street considered the option of renting out the studio, which helped them step up into a higher borrowing power and increase their budget for bidding at auction.
Six people registered to bid including three relying on technology. Two were signing in from Europe due to the rugby World Cup and a third was in Melbourne.
Bidding opened at $3.4 million after a $3.2 million opening bid was rejected. Four people placed bids of mostly $50,000 then once it hit $3.9 million it slowed to $10,000 and $5000 bids.
This was one of 875 homes scheduled to go under the hammer in Sydney on the weekend. By Sunday evening, Domain Group recorded a preliminary auction clearance rate of 71 per cent from 550 reported results, while 116 auctions were withdrawn. Withdrawn auctions are counted as unsold properties when calculating the clearance rate.
Selling agent Cindy Kennedy from McGrath Balmain said some buyers wouldn’t have considered a property of this quality if there wasn’t the ability to lease out the studio.
“Because it was completely private, it just meant that they could actually lease it out which would help pay the mortgage, basically,” she said.
The ultimate buyers were a professional couple with grown children downsizing from Concord. The vendors will be downsizing locally.
“[The son] was pretty happy. He walked off holding the Moët. He was pretty excited about the studio. That’s for sure,” Kennedy said.
The property last traded for $455,000 in 2000, records show.
In Dulwich Hill, a four-bedroom home at 16 Challis Avenue sold for $4,752,000, or $752,000 above reserve. The property, guided in the mid to high $3 million dollar range, attracted five registered bidders including an expat family from New York.
Bidding opened at $3.7 million in front of a crowd of 40. Four people bid in increments of $50,000 and $25,000 with a few smaller bids thrown into the mix.
The property sold for $4,752,000, which cleared $752,000 above its $4 million reserve.
Selling agent Rhonda Yim from BresicWhitney Inner West said the buyers were a local family who had been searching for a new home to move into for a while. The vendors are downsizing.
“A lot of neighbours came along because it is a trophy home for the area,” she said.
“People were really blown away when they walked through and saw the beautiful facade [and] cute features. But then it really opened up to high ceilings, polished floors, two living areas. Deep backyard. They even had chickens out the back.
“[The chickens] were very cool. You felt like […] the country meets Dulwich Hill.”
Yim said the strong result reflects the growing demand in Dulwich Hill with the suburb becoming a better value alternative to more well-known suburbs such as Marrickville and Summer Hill.
The property last traded for $1.26 million in 2011, records show.
PRD’s chief economist Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo said the clearance rate of 71 per cent is an improvement on last week and shows people are more confident as the cash rate has held steady.
“I’m not surprised. At the end of the day, we’re at a stage right now where people are starting to make decisions,” she said.
“We’re coming to the last three months of the year. Spring selling is definitely here. We know that there is still a very low amount of stock.”
Mardiasmo’s outlook is that we are experiencing the start of a recovery for the auction market.
A two-bedroom apartment in Marrickville attracted six registered bidders and sold for $986,000.
All five of the underbidders for 12/27-29 Pile Street were first home buyers and the winner was represented by buyers’ agent Michelle May from the eponymous buyers’ agency.
“I don’t bring my emotions to the day, it’s my job to get you the best possible price and secure it,” she said.
Bidding opened at $850,000 with $10,000 and $15,000 bids pushing the price above the $900,000 reserve.
Then a combination of smaller bids ranging from $10,000 down to $1000 bids took it to the final price. It was a $1000 bid that closed the deal.
Selling agent Frederico Fraga-Matos from BresicWhitney Inner West said the vendors, a young family who had outgrown their apartment, were overwhelmingly happy.
“$900,000 was their reserve, but that was their dream price.”
The property last traded for $685,000 in 2017, records show.
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