While Australia’s property market recorded mixed results over the past financial year, the ultra-luxury market exceeded expectations and reset records.
As successive interest rate rises, global conflict and sticky inflation took the wind out of the Australian property market for the best part of 2022-23, no such headwinds could deter the top end of town from buying up and spending big.
While prestige property is traditionally seen as a market bellwether and the first to fall as rates increase, the past 12 months tell a different story, with Australia’s AAA market achieving outlier status after a bull run of significant sales.
Top-end buyers agent Simon Cohen, of Cohen Handler, admits this time last year he was apprehensive about the outlook for the premium market.
“With all the talk of interest rates and world recession, I was pretty worried,” Mr Cohen said. His trepidation was short-lived. “But as I saw stock tighten up and demand grow, I knew it [the market] was pretty good.”
Pretty good is an understatement. From $130 million paid for Scottish baronial-style mansion Uig Lodge atop Sydney’s Point Piper, to the $80 million splashed on an empty and dilapidated mansion in Melbourne’s Toorak, residential records were reset across the country.
“What’s insane is most of the purchases are local – there’s a lot of money in this town,” Mr Cohen said of the Sydney market.
Prestige agent Brad Pillinger, who handled two of the Sydney eastern suburbs sales in the below list, says the only way is up for the finite number of blue-chip properties.
“The elite level is absolutely a supply, or lack thereof, driven market,” Mr Pillinger said.
“There are only 187 waterfronts from Watsons Bay to the city, and more than ever, people are going to be holding on to them as a generational asset.”
AFR Weekend looked back at the top ten residential sales of the outgoing financial year, in deals totalling about $718 million.
1 | Uig Lodge, Point Piper – $130 million
Uig Lodge at the very top of Point Piper reset the Australian house price record.  Peter Rae
Comfortably in first place is Point Piper’s Uig Lodge, purchased for $130 million last November by Atlassian billionaire Scott Farquhar and investment banker wife Kim Jackson. The Scottish baronial-style mansion was sold by rag traders Steven and Carol Moss, who bought the property for $9.2 million in 1996.
The property sits on a 3300-square-metre parcel at the highest point of exclusive Point Piper, commanding views across the harbour and city. The purchase marks the highest price paid for a residential home in Australia, eclipsing the $100 million paid by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes for waterfront Fairwater in 2018.
2 | Unfinished mansion, Toorak – $80 million
Ed Craven purchased his $80 million Toorak estate through Marshall White’s Marcus Chiminello.  Louis Trerise
In August last year, news emerged that (then) 26-year-old crypto guru, Stake.com’s Ed Craven, had paid $80,000,088 for a derelict mansion in Toorak, resetting Melbourne’s residential record.
Mr Craven took the keys to unfinished St Georges Road “ghost mansion” from developer David Yu, who paid $5 million for the 7187-square-metre parcel in 1991.
It is understood Mr Craven intends to demolish the structure and create a designer compound.
3 | Blair House, Toorak – $74.5 million
Blair House was sold by Marshall White’s Marcus Chiminello.  
Melbourne’s Toorak also claims third place, with the August sale of Blair House for $74.5 million. The property was purchased by technology entrepreneur Grant Rule, who founded SMS marketing technology company MessageMedia in 2000, from the Nanut family, who sold the property as a deceased estate.
The Georgian Revival home is set on 7800 square metres and comes with a tennis court, separate guest accommodation, expansive lawns and manicured gardens.
4 | Leura, Bellevue Hill – $70 million
Leura in Bellevue Hill was sold by Pillinger’s Brad Pillinger.  
Returning to Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and the recent sale of historic estate Leura reset Bellevue Hill’s record when it sold for $70 million. The Queen Anne-style Federation mansion was purchased by Leo Lynch – of floral wholesaler Lynch Group – from Chinese-Australian businessman Wilson Lee and his wife, Baoyu Wu. The property last traded for $30.8 million in 2015.
5 | Mainhead, Point Piper – $69 million
Mainhead was sold by Ray White’s Alan Fettes and Elliott Placks, alongside co-agent Sotheby’s Michael Pallier. The Local Project
Down the hill to the Point Piper waterfront, where Laser Clinics Australia co-founder Alistair Champion and his wife Kate spent $69 million to buy the Spanish Mission-style mansion, Mainhead.
The property, complete with private beach, jetty and mooring, was sold in April by property investor Rebecca Lacey and her husband, businessman Simon Ehrlic, who paid 10.5 million for the home in 2004.
6 | Kambala Road, Bellevue Hill – $61.5 million
The Bellevue Hill house built by GNC Quality was sold by Pillinger’s Brad Pillinger and Rain & Horne’s Alex Lyons.  
Freight boss Arthur Tzaneros recently paid $61.5 million to purchase the recently built Bellevue Hill home of Leo Lynch (see No. 4).
Designed by architect Michael Suttor and with interiors by Thomas Hamel, Tzaneros’ latest purchase won a Master Builders Association award for the work of builder GNC Quality.
After the purchase, the chief executive of ACFS Port Logistics and his wife Maude listed their home in Vaucluse for $55 million.
7 | Huntingfield, Toorak – about $61 million
Toorak mansion Huntingfield was sold by Kay & Burton’s Gowan Stubbings and Gerald Delany.  
Returning to leafy Toorak, and the estate of the late Rich Lister Ron Walker recently sold for about $61 million.
Known as Huntingfield, the Albany Road compound, complete with two pools and a tennis court, sold to an unidentified buyer in June.
8 | Akuna, Point Piper – about $60 million
Akuna was sold by Black Diamondz’s founder and agent Monika Tu.  
Waterfront trophy home Akuna just sold for about $60 million, after trading for $45 million last April. It’s a tidy – and speedy – windfall for outgoing vendors, Sydney FC owner Scott Barlow and socialite wife Alina, who only settled on their three-storey Wolseley Road home in June last year.
Akuna, which comes with a heritage-listed turquoise pagoda-style boathouse, sold to property investor Hoang Trang Do.
9 | Coolong Road, Vaucluse – $59.5 million
In neighbouring Vaucluse, fashion mogul Nicky Zimmermann and husband Chris Olliver spent $59.5 million acquiring the Coolong Road home of investment banker Garrick Hawkins and his wife Evelyn.
The Andre Porebski-designed three-level, six-bedroom waterfront property sits on almost 1700 square metres and comes with a pool, home office, nine bathrooms and garaging for four cars.
10 | Belhaven, Bellevue Hill – $52.25 million
Belhaven was sold by Sotheby’s prestige agent Michael Pallier.  
Rounding out the top 10 is yet another Bellevue Hill beauty, with the $52.25 million sale of Belhaven on Victoria Road. The property was sold by retired ASX chief Dominic Stevens and his wife Emma to the Kontopos family.
Located next door to Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch’s Le Manoir, the three-level, 1919-built home has undergone a heritage renovation by architect Howard Tanner. It comes with a tennis court, gatehouse, wine cellar and pool – along with panoramic harbour views.
While Sydney (six) and Melbourne (four) sales dominate the list, the prestige market also performed well in Queensland. CoreLogic data revealed that Noosa had the state’s most expensive deal, when Jalna Dairy Foods founder Campbell McLaren and his wife, Pam, purchased a $27 million luxury waterfront on Noosa Sound.
This luxury home overlooking the Brisbane River smashed the Noosa house price record. 
And the Queensland capital clocked its highest ever sale of $20.5 million, with the sale of a heritage-listed New Farm riverfront Amity, overlooking the Brisbane River.
Perth’s prestige market has fallen well short of its 2009 high of $57.5 million. The top sale of the past financial year was Andrew Forrest’s $15.6 million purchase of heritage-listed property Le Fanu, in Cottesloe.
In South Australia, Adelaide notched up a record when automotive investor Brenton Jordan purchased an 1885-built, six-bedroom home with indoor pool at Medindie for $9.25 million.
Canberra hit a new high of $9 million paid for a Deakin mansion, while Tasmania’s top residential sale of the past 12 months was the $4.8 million sale of a contemporary home in Sandy Bay, which has views across the River Derwent.
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