MASSIVE WEALTH IS NO DEFENCE AGAINST LOWBALLING HIGH ROLLERS
The exclusive enclaves of the super-rich are no exception to the Sydney property downturn, with up to $500,000 being knocked off the price of homes. While these drops in value may be good news for firsthome buyers who have struggled to get a foot on the property ladder, for those at the top end of the market it is leading to eyewatering losses. Last week the Telegraph reported prices across the city plummeted by as much as 14 per cent in the past year — the biggest annual drop in almost 30 years. And it seems the luxury market might just be the hardest hit. There are two unfortunate sellers who share the dubious honour of taking the biggest hit to their bank balances — bankrupt former oil and gas magnate Jerry Ren and restaurateur Kai Meng.
Mr Ren, once dubbed the Northern Territory’s only billionaire, was forced to wave goodbye to $500,000 when he sold his Warrawee mansion for the still princely sum of $11 million. He had bought the vast home, dubbed the Chilton Hilton, for $11.5 million eight years ago.
And Mr Meng, director of the collapsed high-end Waitan restaurant in China Town, also lost half a million dollars when he sold his Castle Cove home off-market for $5.5 million. The grand sixbedroom residence had cost a little more than $6 million in 2011 and after adding in costs such as stamp duty on the purchase and estate agent commissions, Mr Meng’s losses would have been close to $1 million.
CoreLogic first calculated Sydney prices would fall in September last year and the recorded losses soon followed. The downturn in the Sydney market follows a five-year boom in which some properties increased in value by a staggering 78 per cent.
“Sellers who are motivated and willing to meet the market essentially reset price points. So even if you’re a little stubborn as a seller and want to hold onto your price, unfortunately you are now at the mercy of others who are dropping prices to meet buyer demand,” inner-west agent Matt Hayson said. “The market has certainly slipped faster than most forecast. It hasn’t been just the speed of the decline but also how far it has moved too.”
Agents in all parts of Sydney have witnessed huge drops in value — and it seems few places are immune. In pricey Palm Beach, Christian Ainsworth
The market has certainly slipped faster than most forecast AGENT MATT HAYSON
— whose family owns pokies giant Aristocrat — lost $400,000 on his beachside retreat. He paid $3,425,000 for the four-bedroom Ocean Rd property in 2013 and recently sold it for $3,025,000.
“The vendor was very happy with the price achieved and the time frame,” BresicWhitney agent Adrian Oddi said. “Remember 50 per cent of Sydney properties have no buyers. The other 50 per cent might have one buyer. That’s the reality.”
Indeed, Mr Ainsworth had been told to expect bigger losses, with a $2.9 million price guide for the 1960s home.
In nearby Whale Beach, retiring Dow Chemicals chief Andrew Liveris also took a big hit — losing $345,000 on his 110sqm property that slopes down to the ocean.
Off-the-plan exuberance during the boom times has now begun to explode in the faces of those who looked to cash in. Last month online publisher Jackie Maxted lost $200,000 on the resale of a penthouse in the Griffiths Tea building in Surry Hills.
Maxted, who founded the Beauty Heaven website, paid $4 million off the plan in 2015 for the New York-style Federation apartment but quietly sold it for $3.8 million.
Even property experts have found themselves on the wrong side of transactions. The Block judge Neale Whitaker lost $170,000 on his stylish Alexandria apartment when selling for $1,535,000 earlier this year.
“Disappointed of course but market forces are market forces,” Whitaker said.
And those who bought fixer-uppers with the intention of selling them on are far from immune to the losses. Fitness entrepreneur Jacinta McDonell sold her Clovelly project for a $350,000 loss last month. The Anytime Fitness co-founder never got around to developing the duplex-style Federation that was made up of two two-bedroom apartments. She just sold for $3.12 million, having paid $3.47 million a year earlier.
“The price change was in line with the 10 per cent change we are seeing in the eastern suburbs,” agent David Tyrrell said. “The vendor was OK with the result as we actually feared the final price could have been lower.”
BresicWhitney director Shannan Whitney said the idea of “list it and they will come” has evolved into a new dynamic: “Now it’s about finding a price that ensures you will engage a reluctant buying market.”
Ramsay Street’s new resident Tim Robards has also bought a new pad in the real world. The former Bachelor-turnedfitness guru and newly minted Neighbours star has recently settled on an apartment in Rose Bay with his wife, criminal lawyer Anna Heinrich.
The move sees the busy newlyweds just a little further from the sand and sea they love.
They are upsizing to a three bedroom, art deco apartment which cost $1.9 million. Their new home is set in a 1930s boutique block of six across the road from the Harbour promenade. The north-facing living area and master bedroom have harbour views.
LJ Hooker Bondi Beach agents Kiel Glass and Tom Murray sold the 137 sqm apartment that had been a $1500/ week rental.
Robards had previously told the Telegraph the couple loved Bondi Junction, where they had been renting a two-bedroom apartment.
“We’ve got a great view but we’re not in the bubble of Bondi,” Robards said.
“We’re not stuck in the middle of the shopping centre either. If I want to get to the shops, it’s five minutes away.”
Robards flies back to Sydney on weekends, spending more time in Melbourne after being cast as multi-millionaire Pierce Greyson, the new face on the Neighbours block.
Robards has wanted to pursue an acting career since he was a 20-year-old university student and had the opportunity to be a stand in for Keanu Reeves on the set of the Matrix sequels, he told The Saturday Telegraph’s BW Magazine.
Meanwhile, Heinrich has been working in Sydney on the new Network Ten series Trial by Kyle with Kyle Sandilands.
Robards and Heinrich, to whom he gave the final rose on the 2013 season of The Bachelor, wed in Italy in June at the Masseria Potenti hotel in Puglia before honeymooning in Turkey with friends.
This is the second property they have bought together.
In 2016 they spent $630,000 on a new three bedroom townhouse in Murarrie, an eastern suburb of Brisbane. It was advertised as a $530/ week rental, reflecting a more than 4 per cent rental yield.
Jerry Ren’s palatial home at Warrawee sold for $500,000 less than he paid for it.
Anytime Fitness co-founder Jacinta McDonell took a big hit when she sold an investment property at Clovelly.
The stunning view from the $1.9 million unit. Tim Robards and Anna Heinrich are set to move into Rose Bay. Picture: Jonathan Ng