MAS­SIVE WEALTH IS NO DE­FENCE AGAINST LOWBALLING HIGH ROLLERS

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - JONATHAN CHAN­CEL­LOR

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

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