Sydney’s flattening residential real estate market is coming up trumps for first-home buyers, especially those targeting discounted inner-city properties.

The city’s weekend auction clearance rate hit 46.2 per cent on Saturday, and the half-hearted demand for properties is allowing more first-time purchasers to climb off the rental treadmill.

One professional couple, renting in Redfern, purchased a three-bedroom townhouse at 18 Walter Street, Leichhardt. The duo faced no competition at the auction of the home, which they bought for $1.38 million.

TBAS Buyers Agents head, Rodney McLoughlin, represented the buyer. He said six months ago the townhouse would have drawn three or four registered bidders and sold for close to $1.5 million.

The Redfern couple were the only registered party at Saturday’s auction after another prospective buyer pulled out when their loan finance wasn’t approved.

As a result, the couple snapped up the Cobden & Hayson-listed property with a single $5000 bid, placed after the auctioneer, Damien Cooley, had posted a $1.375 million vendor bid.

“They have been paying too much in rent and they thought it was a good time to buy,”   Mr McLoughlin said.

“The competition is not as fierce as it used to be, and there are some good buying opportunities out there now. The market may drop a little more but still, if you’re ready to get into the market, my advice is to jump in.”

307/82 Abercrombie Street, Chippendale NSW
This Chippendale studio sold for $558,000.

Agents reported robust attendances at some auctions in inner Sydney, with numerous neighbours coming out this weekend to check on prices.

With median house prices down by more than 6 per cent in the year to September, buyers on the look-out for value targeted entry-level listings.

Affordable property sales reported to Domain Group included a studio at 239-877-7936. The apartment changed hands for $558,000 through R&H Newtown, while a unit at 8289445726, sold for $600,000 through the same agent.

Elsewhere, a unit at (773) 877-9164, fetched $505,000 through McGrath Maroubra, while 1/14 Grace Campbell Crescent, Hillsdale, sold for $550,000 through NG Farah.

18/28 Evans Avenue, Eastlakes NSW
The one-bedroom Eastlakes apartment was one of many affordable inner-city properties to change hands this weekend.

Few people want to overpay at any price point in Sydney at present, and stalemates and standoffs between buyers and sellers are keeping many transactions in lock-step with agent-quoted guide prices.

Agents say the price information that sellers impart to buyers has to be spot on. If the guide price is slightly over the mark, they argue, people won’t want to know about the property and they won’t come along to an inspection.

These trends, coupled with the difficulty buyers face in accessing mortgage finance, were the driving factors behind this weekend’s 46.2 per cent clearance rate. The result was from 353 reported auctions out of a total weekend roll-call of 711 scheduled auctions. Some 145 of these properties were withdrawn from auction.

The market pendulum is clearly swinging toward buyers, except in the city’s most tightly held pockets. Domain has revised down the preliminary 41.3 per cent clearance rate for November 10 and 11 to 37.9 per cent after agents reported their “straggler” results.”

3A Ballast Point Road, Birchgrove
Water views helped a Birchgrove home sell for $5.75 million.

Jacki Williams, from Warwick Williams Real Estate Drummoyne, said buyers were being choosier and were highlighting perceived faults, such as there being too many trees on a block.

She believes that having an accurate asking price is the clincher that motivates buyers to make offers.

She said buyers wanted to know that the reserve was reasonable, and that many questioned whether the price that agents were quoting would be right on, or close to, the sale price.

“Until buyers know that it is within reach, they just don’t seem to be engaging with us,” Ms Williams said.

Higher-priced sales this weekend included 7402705428, which sold for $5.75 million through Bresic Whitney Balmain.

A five-bedroom home with a tennis court at Un-mexican, made $5.555 million through Di Jones North Shore.

37 Grandview Street, Pymble
The 1745-square-metre Pymble property sold for $5.555 million.

Also above the $4 million mark were (787) 548-2804, with direct access to the park and a pool, which sold for $4.7 million through Phillips Pantzer Donelley, and 7 Cambridge Street, North Willoughby, which fetched $4.1 million through One Agency Tamara Le Boursicot Property. Both properties had plenty of scope for improvement.

(639) 519-6263

Homebuyers with cash and major equity in existing properties were on the front foot at the weekend, bidding assertively at selected auctions in the inner-east and bayside suburbs.

But most segments of Melbourne’s residential real estate market continued to tread water.

Domain data revealed a 45 per cent auction clearance rate from 815 results reported at the weekend.

A total of 1151 auctions were scheduled, and about 200 of the reported pass-ins were properties passed in on a vendor bid.

Real-estate agents blamed the decline in the auction success rate on drawn-out application processes and tougher loan approval rules being applied by mortgage lenders.

Even so, across different suburbs there was competitive bidding for homes in top spots and for those that had an emotional hold on prospective buyers.

In Mentone, a well-heeled elderly man beat off two rival bidders to secure a house with a pool for his adult grandchildren.

The man, a resident of the suburb’s Allandale Road, purchased a nearby five-bedroom home for $918,000, because he wanted his grandkids living near him.

40 Allandale Road, Mentone VIC
The buyer lived on the same street as the five-bedroom Mentone home.

Hodges Sandringham’s Kylie Charlton, who marketed the property, said the price paid by the grandfather was within the quoted range and was a fair price in the current market.

“Buyers are more cautious than they have been in the past few years, but certainly this fellow was emotionally attached to the property because he lived in the same street,” she said.

“He wanted his family to live close to him. That’s always the buyer that you want: someone who has an emotional attachment to the street or to the area.”

She said bayside buyers were content to pay fair-market value for homes but were constrained by tighter lending practices.

At a higher price point, two inner-east businesspeople slugged it out in front of 100 onlookers for the keys to a 1920s home in need of some TLC at (719) 726-3749

The property, on an exceptionally large block for Hawthorn of 1579 square meters, bested its reserve by more than $400,000 before selling for $6.1 million. Quoted at $5 million to $5.5 million, the home was declared on the market at $5.7 million.

21 Kinkora Road, Hawthorn VIC
The Hawthorn property was much larger than others in the suburb.

Marshall White agent Nicholas Franzmann said the property was of a type that changed hands once in a generation. He said the home had a preferred north-facing rear position and abundant land, and was a habitable house that would likely require a $1 million-plus renovation.

“The result shows that if a property is quality, it performs in any market,” Franzmann said.

Wakelin Property Advisory’s Jarrod McCabe said a cottage at 30A Rotherwood Street in Richmond was hotly contested by four bidders before selling for $1.545 million, ahead of its $1.3 million to $1.4 million quote.

He attributed the upbeat result to the two-bedroom property’s 247 square metres of land and the fact that it was located away from busy Punt Road.

“There are a variety of buyers interested in a property like the Rotherwood Street single-fronter, and when you have 250 square metres, even young families will consider looking at it because of the space,” he said. “It is also very good from a downsizer’s perspective.”

30A Rotherwood Street, Richmond
The Richmond semi on 247 square metres was hotly contested.

Auctioneers reported that numerous prospective buyers were pulling out of bidding for properties at short notice because their banks were holding up or refusing loans.

Hard-to-get finance certainly contributed to Saturday’s high pass-in rate, including to the pass-in of a double-fronted Edwardian home at 4083202431.

Buyer’s advocate Miriam Sandkuhler was surprised that this property was passed in on a single vendor bid of $1.85 million, given that the Cayzer-listed home represented entry-level buying for families in Middle Park.

“It is a really strong sign that buyers can’t get finance,” she said. “The consequences of the current royal commission into banking are highly detrimental to the market at present.”

105 Erskine Street, Middle Park VIC
The Middle Park property passed in on a single vendor bid.

This weekend’s 45 per cent Melbourne auction clearance rate is almost certain to be revised down. The previous weekend’s preliminary 48.2 per clearance rate was downgraded to 41.1 percent from 1345 final reported auctions after the “straggler” results were counted.


Brisbane’s auction market is looking hopeful after a luxury home in Bardon sold for $4.275 million under the hammer on Saturday. 

The sprawling five-bedroom family home occupied an exclusive luxury price bracket but still attracted five registered bidders, all of whom were prepared to spend multiple millions. 

Bidding opened at $2.8 million and progressed in $100,000 increments until $3.9 million, where there was a pause for negotiation. 

The determined bidder raised the price to $4.275 and the home was put on the market and sold. 

Tennis court 34 Satinwood Court, Bardon
At 3519 square metres, the Bardon property was larger than most in the area.

It was the top sale for Ray White across Australia and New Zealand for auctions on Saturday. 

Agent Matt Lancashire of Ray White New Farm said it was a great sign for the health of Brisbane’s market. 

“There’s a lot of speculation around the Royal Commission and those sorts of things, but to have five registered bidders, all with capacity to spend around $4 million and above, is a great testament to the purchasers out there,” he said. 

The property was rare find for the family-oriented bidders, with a substantially larger lot than neighbouring properties and a panoramic east-facing aspect. 

“A big block in that area is around 1200 [square metres], this is 3500,” Mr Lancashire said.  

“It is the ultimate family home – it’s amazing. It’s elevated, it’s got city views and it’s a 20-year home for someone.

“Those properties don’t come up very often.” 

Living room 34 Satinwood Court, Bardon
The five-bedroom home boasted ample living space.

The home attracted significant interest for a luxury property during the four-week campaign, mostly from local families. 

“There were lower numbers [of inspections] through the campaign, just due to the fact that it’s a price-specific thing, but we had 50 groups through during that time,” Mr Lancashire said.

“The number was lower, as usually I’ll average anywhere between 100 and 150, but it was a one-in-10 close rate on registered bidders, which is high.”

Despite two conditional offers made prior to auction, the vendors were determined to sell with the transparency of the auction process. 

“The greatest thing about the auction arena is that you can physically see your competition; you can physically see the market,” Mr Lancashire said. 

“Once it passes in or [sells] prior to [auction], you lose that transparency because it’s not ethical to share other people’s offers.

“Once auctions are understood, it’s a really easy and transparent way to purchase and sell.”

Meanwhile, north of the city a colonial Queenslander on a sizeable block in Wilston also garnered a high price, selling for $1.65 million. 

The auction was over in just a few bids from two of the four registered bidders, most of whom were families with young children. 

Street facade 20 Mars Street, Wilston
The move-in ready Wilston home in a desirable school zone attracted a lot of interest.

Agent Debora Sutton from Belle Property Wilston said the atmosphere was laid-back, with most time spent in negotiations. 

“It was an opening bid and then another, one other and then a pause,” she said. 

“It was quite a gentle auction, it moseyed along but we got the price we wanted. 

About 30 onlookers waited to hear the result, several of them hoping the property would be passed in and the vendors would be amenable to conditional offers. 

The home attracted large numbers during the campaign, Ms Sutton said. 

“We had about 120 people through during the campaign and lots of second and third inspections,” she said, adding this was due to its position. 

“It’s a nice big family home in a good school zone, so that’s what was the attraction. 

“It was also the size of the yard,” Ms Sutton said. “[It had] a big, level yard with a stunning pool and a pool house with a built-in barbecue, so the entertainment and the liveability aspect was absolutely superb.”

Outdoor kitchen 20 Mars Street, Wilston
The 810 square metre home featured a poolside outdoor kitchen.

She said one aspect that piqued buyers’ interest was that the property was move-in ready, with little needed to make it a comfortable family home. 

“It’s perfectly liveable now but there were architect plans to raise it and build in under,” she said.

“It’s that sort of big old Queenslander that you can enjoy right away, but it has heaps of potential to take it to the next level. 

“The big 32-perch blocks are getting harder to find, so people pay good money for them.” 


An entire township in WA’s south west is still awaiting a new owner after the former wilderness retreat Tone River failed to sell under the hammer.

It is the second time in two years the Lake Muir property – located about 335km from Perth – has hit the market after ceasing operations as a wilderness retreat in 2008.

Since then it has been suspended in time. It changed hands just over 18 months ago when the State Government sold it for $615,000 to a private company which has since had a change of heart.

Selling agent Colin Wallbank, of LJ Hooker Pemberton Manjimup, said the property was passed in at $635,000 after six or seven bids.

“Compared to what it sold for before it was not unexpected in a way, but I thought we’d have a lot more than that due to the level of interest,” he said.

“I have never had interest on a property like this before and I probably never will again.”

Tone River reception building
The vendors renovated some of the Tone River cottages and improved the site's infrastructure.

The 616-636-1723 described the property as “an opportunity to turn this piece of bush paradise into your very own getaway or commercial getaway”.

The Tone River runs through the 39.82-hectare site, whose facilities include 20 cottages as well as a town hall, workshop, reception office, barbecue area, cricket oval and tennis courts.

Despite failing to sell at the November 14 auction, Mr Wallbank said he was now negotiating with four parties and was confident Tone River would be sold within the week.

While the nature of some buyer interest remained confidential, he said there had been interest from not-for-profit and school groups wanting to use it as camp getaway, to some looking at the site for a tourism investment.

According to the Heritage Council State Heritage Office, construction of the Tone River village began in 1949. It was originally established around a timber mill – one of several supporting the forestry industry.

Some of the houses, which were once the homes of 117 mill workers, have been demolished but those that remain are similar to those built back in the day.

Row of cottages at Tone River
Not-for-profit and school groups were interested in using the site as a camp getaway.

In its later heyday, Tone River was a popular destination for school, sporting and community group camps.

Two of the cottages are privately owned and are not included in the sale.

Due to the fact the property is zoned for tourism enterprise under the Manjimup Shire Town Planning Scheme, only a caretaker is permitted to reside at the site permanently.

Tone River
The Tone River runs through the large bush property.

Mr Wallbank said Tone River was a rare buy not only because it was an entire township but because of its isolation, bush surrounds and the endless options for its future development.

“It’s a three-and-a-half-hour drive south of Perth with a river – it’s your own world and while you can’t live there full time if you are a manager or caretaker you could,” he said.

Since it was bought last year the site has been unused, but during that time some of the hard work the village needed has been taken care of. The vendors have completed the renovation of some cottages, as well as works to improve the land, which included upgrades to the site’s power and the installation of bores.


Aspiring politicians aren’t the only ones who might be feeling nervous as Victoria’s state election day dawns this Saturday.

Plenty of prospective home buyers, vendors and real estate agents will be spending November 24 trying to buy or sell a home.

Even though elections do take many people away from other commitments to vote, many real estate agents are willing to take the risk, hopeful that buyers will visit a polling place before or after the auction.

All except for one agent selling a property in Melbourne’s west, who wasn’t sure whether he’d go ahead with the auction on election day when Domain informed him of the clash. The agent said he hadn’t encountered it before while in his job.

217-382-7018 with 7737564596 is helping to sell a property at unruffable, in the Malvern District electorate, on November 24. He’s optimistic the pending polls might mean even more punters will be out and about, while he notes others might vote early.

7 Inverness Avenue, Armadale. Kay & Burton
7 Inverness Avenue, Armadale. Photo: Kay & Burton

“The polling booths in and around Prahran have been open since Monday, and people have had plenty of time to vote in the two weeks leading up to the election,” Mr Smith said.

He said auction timing was important to allow people to vote, and to buy their next home or investment.

“If you hold it in the morning, most people can hopefully buy at the auction and then go and vote after,” he said.

Mr Smith said he had already voted since he was working on election day and wouldn’t have time to vote on the 24th.

He believed plenty of voters would not be swayed from turning up to bid, and said traffic congestion and kids’ sport often had a bigger impact on Saturday auctions.

“Most people will be out and about so there might just be a bigger crowd,” he said.

Prestige auctioneer with Marshall White Marcus Chiminello agrees, saying the agency is expecting more people to be at their auctions on election day.

“As a company we have several auctions happening on the 24th,” Mr Chiminello said.

“My view and the general view is that everyone is in Melbourne, so really you have a captive audience. Voting only takes up a quarter of an hour of the day.”

Mr Chiminello said most agents and auctioneers would probably vote early in the morning, or before polls close in the afternoon.

unrevolting from Nelson Alexander said while in the past agents would avoid holding auctions on election day, it didn’t seem to have so much of an impact nowadays.

33a Chatham Street, Footscray
The interior of 33a Chatham Street, Footscray. Photo: Nelson Alexander

“We’re of the opinion it doesn’t affect auctions. We used to bypass it and have the auctions a week before, or a week after, but we don’t now,” he said.

Mr Matthews, who will be the auctioneer for a property at 33a Chatham Street Footscray, will be pre-voting, he said.

And despite the draw of the sausage sizzle at many polling stations on election day, none of the agencies Domain spoke to had plans to throw a few snags on a barbecue for the occasion.

“There’s plenty of opportunity to outside of the election, or Bunnings, for that,” Kay & Burton’s Andrew Smith said with a laugh.


Is a bathtub a necessity or a luxury? For some, the answer could be changing

When I was growing up, it seemed as if every television commercial break featured at least one advertisement that showed people (read: women) enjoying the benefits of a bath. In the 1970s and 1980s, Jean Nate ran ads that showed a woman stepping out of a luxurious bath and refreshing herself with the popular bath scent. 

But in today’s frenetic digitally paced world, taking baths – and owning bathtubs – has, to some, become a thing of the past.

If one looks to hotels as a sign of the state of the tub, many of the newer boutique hotel brands such as Canopy by Hilton have done away with bathtubs altogether. Instead, each bathroom is outfitted with a barrier-free walk-in shower. Gary Steffen, the global head of Canopy by Hilton, says the company conducted years of research, including a survey of more than 9,000 travellers, and found that their guests most valued functionality. Canopy’s rooms feature extra storage for amenities, doorless “open” closets and walk-in showers – all helpful for a traveller with a time-crunched schedule.

The standard rooms at the Draftsman Hotel, that is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, also have bathrooms outfitted with walk-in showers only. But the bathrooms in suites have tubs as well as walk-in showers. The implication is that the tub signifies luxury, only afforded by those who have the ultimate luxury: the time to soak in that tub.

The no-tub trend applies to homes as well. Architect John Allee says that almost all of his clients would prefer not to install bathtubs and usually do so only for resale value. When they do request a tub, it’s usually for the master bathroom only, and it’s a free-standing soaking tub (he often uses Victoria + Albert’s contemporary, sculptural Barcelona model).

“Many of my clients are past toddler-time (except for grandchildren) and will put in a tub/shower combo only if there is a logical place like an extra guest suite,” Allee says. Even his clients with younger kids only install a functional kid-washing tub if they have three or more full baths. Allee theorises that his clients’ movement away from installing bathtubs is a combination of our culture’s fastidious hygiene and our busy schedules. Relaxed bathing is a luxury and a therapeutic experience, neither of which seem to be interests of Allee’s busy clients.

Dolores Suarez and Caroline Grant, who head the design firm Dekar Design, say most of their clients need a tub and a shower. In their experience, it’s often a his-and-her situation, in which one prefers baths and one prefers showers, so creating a designated space for the tub is essential. And if there are children, they say a tub is critical as it’s the safest and most fun way to bathe them.

Michael Rankin, a managing partner at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, feels differently. He says that his buyers still want tubs, but that they don’t necessarily need them. “Everyone is too busy, and time is short, but when you finally have a quiet moment – and that may only be every month or two – people still desire a bath,” Rankin says. He equates the bathtub conundrum to that of the dining room: “A dining room might only get used four or five times a year, but the buyer still wants a house with one.”

Rankin also makes it clear that having a tub, particularly in a master bathroom, is a sign of luxury that his clients expect to see. “Free-standing spa tubs and walk-in showers with rain shower heads, handheld fixtures and numerous body sprays are master bathroom musts.”

Nancy Taylor Bubes, another agent and associate broker for Washington Fine Properties, has a personal bias because she loves a bath and doesn’t go a day without taking one. But she has found that the market has changed, particularly in urban areas. “Young professionals are living in smaller places and seem to prefer the walk-in shower convenience because it’s quick and easy,” Taylor Bubes says. Plus, a walk-in shower design is low maintenance; with fewer parts to clean and fewer corners where mold can get caught, walk-in showers are a bonus for busy families.

Traditionally, Taylor Bubes says, bathtubs were always installed in the hall bath for the kids’ use, and the master bath was outfitted with a shower only. But over time, master bathrooms got bigger, and tubs got architecturally fancier. Eventually high-end buyers began to expect to see free-standing luxury tubs in master suites. “Sometimes I feel like tubs are the fireplace of the bathroom – they are the centrepiece, the focal point of the bathroom,” she says. “Many people still want both tubs and fireplaces, but the reality is that they don’t use either as often as they might think.”

“Interesting,” Taylor Bubes ponders, “fireplaces and tubs – the places we relax around – could both be on their way out?”

– The Washington Post

The many ways renovating is just like having a baby

I don’t know what it’s like for other people, but for me, first-time renovating was like giving birth. I’ve done both and the similarities are uncanny, especially when doing it on a tight budget. Daunting, draining and nothing like I imagined. Halfway through, you wonder what on earth you were thinking, but you just have to push through. And, when it’s all over, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

The trouble is you really don’t know what lies ahead. During that initial period of newborn chaos, I found myself constantly saying, “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that?” During our renovation, a few years later, I was saying the same thing. Like having babies, people forget the bad bits. They’re so relieved to be on the other side – and enjoying their new second storey – that the stress of the previous 10 months simply disappears.

But like starting a family, renovating seems like the next step to making your life complete. Or, rather making more necessary space. You excitedly plan ahead but, like having a baby, there’s no book or class that can really prepare you. I was quite shocked when my first baby didn’t sleep during the day like the baby books said she would. And, even more shocked to discover that controlled crying didn’t actually work. The feeling was similar when we started renovating, only to discover that all the electrics needed redoing, the entire roof needed retiling and the foundations of the house lay on some sort of riverbank. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that?

Like having babies, people forget the bad bits. Photo: iStock

Then there’s the unexpected blowout of the budget. Renovating costs more than you think, and it’s easy to get carried away. Much like the baby wipe warmer that seemed so innovative and necessary, I had to have those hugely expensive Spanish hand-cut tiles for my kitchen splashback. Now, of course, the baby wipe warmer sits unused in the attic and the splashback blends uneventfully with the off-white walls.

The arrival of a baby also brings constant choices and decisions to make. And, family and friends, even absolute strangers, feel comfortable to share their opinions. Helpful comments like “My baby slept through the night at four months” or “You should probably get rid of the dummy” didn’t offer much comfort. Similar advice on colour schemes, necessity of induction cooktops and how overhead cabinetry closes in your kitchen did not help in the slightest.

Certainly, both experiences were times of sleep-deprived and heightened emotions, challenging for even the strongest of relationships. Much like my tearful realisation that I was clearly “the worst mother in the world”, my indecision over where to place the power points took on an intensity of its own – hard to navigate, even for my ever-patient husband.

living area
Renovating costs more than you think, and it’s easy to get carried away. Image: Stocksy

I was always determined to be some sort of super mum, but quickly realised trying to “do it all” with a screaming baby, messy house and endless washing was impossible. I approached our renovation with a similar heroic determination only to find that time was not on my side. So, when I announced that we would paint all the internal walls ourselves, my husband quietly suggested that with two children, aged two and five years, professional painters might make life easier. Even I had to agree, it was the best money we ever spent.

It’s been a few years since our renovation, and the memory is slightly fuzzy, which is probably why I feel ready to “go again”. No doubt, like that moment of going into labour, it will all come back in a flash. But, like that second birth, I’ll have to keep on going until I’m out the other side. And, with any luck, much like the sight of our second baby, our newly renovated house will make my heart sing.

Vaucluse’s latest $30 million house sale makes it $220 million in three months

The ripple effect of the $100 million sale of the Fairwater estate in Point Piper is proving to be a windfall for Sydney’s trophy home owners, and agents expect the bull run of deals to keep coming in the closing weeks of 2018.

Fuelling the optimism among prestige agents is a perfect storm of a falling Aussie dollar and turmoil on the international trade stage.

In Vaucluse alone, there have been more than $220 million worth of sales in the $20 million-plus range since August. Bellevue Hill follows with more than $150 million worth of sales in the same price range.

The latest high-end sale is a Vaucluse waterfront residence on Wentworth Road, which sold late this week for about $30 million amid rumours it was bought by hotelier Marcus Levy and his wife, Vanessa Sanchez-Levy.

The five-bedroom mansion with gym, sauna, indoor spa, pool, boathouse and deepwater jetty last traded in 1992 for $3.25 million.

70 Wentworth Road Vaucluse bought by Marcus Levy in Nov 2018
The five-bedroom house has a gym, sauna, indoor spa, pool, boathouse and deepwater jetty.

It was first listed in late 2015 with hopes of fetching $30 million and was on and off the market with different agents since until September when Alison Coopes, of her eponymous boutique agency, took the listing.

Ms Coopes declined to give the sale price, but sources revealed the buyer and said the vendors had long maintained they would not accept less than $30 million.

It follows last week’s (860) 812-1450, a $56 million deal for two waterfront houses on Carrara Road, the Teplitsky family’s mansion for $20 million and the Levy’s mansion up the hill for close to $21 million.

10 Queens Avenue Vaucluse sold for $19.52 million in August 2018
The Palm Springs-style residence sold by Goldman Sachs director Karl Mayer and his wife, Tanya, in August.

The almost $20 million sale of the Palm Springs-style house on Queens Avenue white-piped, followed by the $28.5 million sale of the Lewis family home on the waterfront and the Andrews family house sale for about $20 million.

One of the major factors fuelling the high-end market is the falling Aussie dollar, said Brad Pillinger, of Pillingers. The dollar is currently trading at 72 cents.

“Whether the buyer is an expat based overseas or a local whose business is overseas, either way their money is worth more or they’re making more,” Pillinger said.

The Point Piper estate, Fairwater, sold for about $100 million. Photo: Sydneyimages.com

As a case in point, the Fairwater estate sold by the Fairfax family for $100 million would translate to a $US72 million purchase if it settled now to the buyer Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-chief of Nasdaq-listed software giant Atlassian.

That deal, negotiated by Ken Jacobs, of Christie’s International, not only broke through the nine-digit barrier in the Australian housing market, but also established trophy values in line with international markets. 

However, Mr Jacobs said, what is marring the market’s success are the newsbill introduced by the state government in July last year, effectively doubling the stamp duty surcharge to 8 per cent.

While Mr Jacobs has long declined to comment on the specifics of the Fairwater sale, the purchase price would have incurred taxes totalling $14.5 million if bought by a foreigner, as opposed to the $5.5 million surcharge on the local buyer.

50 years after moving in together, best friends Jan and Jann buy apartments (almost) next door

Best friends Jan Candy and Jann Somers fondly remember moving in together after they finished high school in the 1970s. They rented an attic studio in Elwood, paying $20 each a week.

“It was fabulous,” Ms Candy recalled. “We were raring to get away from our parents.”

Fifty years on, the pair are preparing to live at close quarters again, having recently bought two apartments on the same floor of a new development in Brunswick.

The friends represent a shift in the demographic of apartment buyers in sustainable, inner-city blocks, according to the Melbourne-based developer behind the project, Milieu.

Alongside environmentally conscious young professionals, apartments are attracting a cohort of single, older women looking to downsize.

For Ms Somers and Ms Candy, both 68, the decision to purchase together was a long time coming. “Over the years, we’d talked about being in close proximity to one another, perhaps even buying a house and dividing it into two in some way,” Ms Somers said.

She inspected a retirement village in Carlton, while Ms Candy looked through a unit in super-sustainable development The Commons, the Brunswick building which was the inspiration for the Nightingale model.

A render of Milieu's Breese Street development in Brunswick

Eventually, they settled on the yet-to-be-built development on Breese Street, a seven-storey complex of one, two and three-bedroom apartments priced from $465,000 all the way to $1.02 million.

“Even when we’re old, we can still manage to get to the train station or up to Sydney Road,” Ms Somers said, before clarifying, “But we have no intention of hitting old until about 95.”

Both women will sell their homes in Brunswick to move into their new two-bedroom apartments, due to be completed in 2020, just before their 70th birthdays.

After a stroke at home 18 months ago, Ms Candy said it would be a relief to have someone she knew close by in the apartment building.

“Because Jan and I have been so much a part of each other’s lives, it’s really reassuring to know that there’s someone just down the hallway,” she said.

The pair said they hoped to share meals, walk their dogs together and “keep an eye on each other”.

Milieu sales director Patrick Cooney said that of the six downsizers who have bought into the development, all were women. They shared a strong desire to be part of a community, he said, and were drawn to the sustainable features of the building, such as solar panels, double-glazed windows and reclaimed timber flooring.

The apartment complex has a large communal rooftop garden area, with vegetable gardens.

“You have a lot of people wanting those [features] in there because they have seen what’s happened in the last 20 years, and they’re worried about their grandchildren and want to do their bit.”

Downsizers have seized on Melbourne’s apartment market in recent years, particularly in well-connected, inner-city suburbs. But Mr Cooney said, like most owner occupiers, they had become more discerning.

“A lot of people are taking a lot longer to make a decision,” he said. “That’s the main shift we’ve seen in the last year or so.”

“They’re daunted by a lot of the open for inspections, particularly in Brunswick, because it has had a lot of poor development outcomes,” he said, referring to internal-facing apartments and bedrooms with borrowed light.

This sentiment was shared by Ms Candy. “For too long we’ve had developers going rampant with unbelievable developments that have no sense of community and no personality, and I find that really sad,” she said.

Although nervous about buying off-the-plan, the lifelong friends were confident they had made the right choice, and looked forward to meeting their neighbours.

“It feels like it can be a place for life,” Ms Somers said. “I don’t want to move again.”


An eastern suburbs real estate agent has been jailed for two years for fraud after admitting to stealing almost half a million dollars worth of sales deposits from trust accounts.

Zacharis Gregory Imisides was sentenced in Parramatta Local Court earlier this month to two years imprisonment to be served by way of an intensive correction order, which will see him perform 400 hours of community service work and participate in a rehabilitation program.

The 37-year-old was charged with eight counts of fraudulently converting money, totalling more than $425,000. Seven counts were dismissed.

The offences occurred between May 2014 and December 2014 in several eastern suburbs including Marourbra, Pagewood and Kingsford.

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said this was another example of a real estate agent “abusing their position and accessing money isn’t theirs”.

“Imisides made transfers after selling seven properties in 2014 but the trust account withdrawals had no connection to the sale of the properties, and he was not authorised to release the sales deposits prior to settlement,” said Mr Kean.

“Enforcement outcomes like this clearly demonstrate why the industry should not regulate or govern itself.

“The role of Fair Trading to help create, monitor and enforce the law and real estate codes is essential.”

It comes after Imisides was disqualified in 2016 from holding a licence or certificate of registration for eight years as well as being disqualified from being involved in the direction, management, or conduct of a business or a licensee for eight years.

“This outcome should serve as a warning to all real estate agents in NSW: if you’re doing the wrong thing, NSW Fair Trading will throw the book at you,” Mr Kean said.

“We want to reinstall public faith in real estate agents, and these outcomes send a clear message that we won’t tolerate bad behaviour from the industry.”