Price no object for luxury apartments
THERE has been something of a sales surge in the apartment market and it’s largely due to affordability, as housing prices around the county lift.
But in the luxury residential sector, where affordability isn’t an issue, well- off emptynesters and busy executives are willing to pay for the convenience of an apartment that will give them a quality lifestyle sans drama, including property maintenance.
Tamea Walls, of agent Max Walls International, which operates on Sydney’s northern beaches, where land value is at a premium, says most interest in top- range apartments comes from the empty- nesters.
‘‘ These are people who have been left with a big house with a pool or tennis court which they don’t really want to continue to maintain, but they want to stay in the area,’’ she says.
‘‘ They have money and they are seeking quality of lifestyle.’’
Most of the apartments the agency deals with are boutique apartments in blocks of only two or, at the most, four.
Recent sales include an apartment in Queenscliff for $ 5.2 million and a duplex apartment in Fairlight, which was carved into a rock- face. It passed in at auction for $ 3.7 million, selling five minutes later for an undisclosed amount. The other duplex is also now on the market.
Walls says that having fewer apartments in a building means buyers have the same privacy they were used to in a larger property.
‘‘ There is maybe only one other person in the body corporate, the quality of the buildings and the fixtures and fittings is excellent, and owners don’t have to do anything to the property — like mow the lawn.’’ In Melbourne it’s a similar story. Wakelin Property Advisory’s Monique Wakelin says buyers of CBD and St Kilda Road apartments she deals with fall into two categories.
One is those who are working in highpowered jobs, who don’t have children and want the city or near- city life.
‘‘ They want to come home from work and put up their feet — they don’t want to be painting windows or doing repairs,’’ she says.
‘‘ They want to do zero management, which is why they are prepared to pay lofty body corp fees.’’ They also may travel a lot for work, and they want to be able to simply lock up, give the keys to a concierge and not have to do anything else.
The second category are retired, scaling down, but not necessarily in size or in the number of bedrooms.
They are getting rid of the things they don’t want — such as the lawn and the toolshed — and moving on to another stage of life.
Wakelin says that for many buyers in the $ 1.7 million- plus price bracket, their home is not their primary wealth- building tool.
Many are self- made, have substantial assets and are not dependent on their home for financial security.
In Brisbane, the upper end of the apartment market has accelerated with most of the 45 $ 3 million- plus transactions that have occurred since 2000 taking place in the past two years.
The top price so far this year is $ 5.7 million for an apartment in the Ciel building in Moray Street, New Farm.
Colliers International national research manager John Rivera says growth in the luxury market can be attributed to the emergence of consumers who want five- star living.
Dubbed ‘‘ ultra’’ consumers, they are buyers that don’t just consider the floor size, views and location, but want up- to- date technology — such as automated systems controlling lighting, window shades and room temperature — embedded in the design.
They also want first- class service, and many developers are now opting for hotel- style services, which residents can access whenever they like.
Among those in the pipeline targeting these buyers is Waterford Properties’ Scott Street development in Kangaroo Point.
The $ 100 million project is due for completion in December 2009 and will have 14 residences split between a 12- storey building and two heritage- listed ‘‘ manors’’ built in about 1860.
Waterford says the project is unashamedly pitched at the very top end and says he is hoping to lift the price bar in Brisbane.
The penthouse is expected to be priced at about $ 12 million. Already, two apartments have sold off- the- plan for more than $ 5.5 million each.
Every apartment will have either three or four bedrooms, open- plan living, entertainment balconies and courtyards.
They will all be more than 400sq m, while the 600sq m two- storey penthouse and threestorey ‘‘ grand villa’’ of 700sq m will both have 15m lap pools. Then of course, there’s the concierge service.
It’s a lot of money to pay for convenience.