Winter is almost here and it’s the perfect time to buy property in the Australian alps
Fancy a stone fireplace coupled with expansive views of snow-covered mountains this ski season? Agents report strong demand for chalets, townhouses and apartments, but there’s a scarcity of stock in one of the more popular townships, Jindabyne, near the NSW ski fields.
There’s property aplenty in the Victorian alpine regions of Falls Creek, Mount Hotham and Mount Buller, where the Grollo family recently won approval to develop Whitehorse Village, billed as the highest freehold land available in Australia. And there are bargains. Two blocks of land at Higgi Drive, Mount Buller, sold over Easter for $14,000 and $18,000 via a no-reserve auction through veteran alpine agent John Castran of Castran Real Estate. The blocks were 220sq m each. “I would not say that was indicative of prices in Mount Hotham,” says Castran. “But it shows miracles do happen, and you had to be there to bid.”
Besides those bargain-basement auction sales, Castran says the usual price for a house block in Mount Hotham is $200,000 to $260,000 — he should know, he sold three over summer.
Castran will soon market the Whitehorse Village development, which he says will be the highest drive-in and drive-out and ski-in and ski-out development in Australia. Six blocks of land will be priced from $1 million to $1.5m each when they hit the market in two weeks.
“The market has been tough since the global financial crisis in 2008, prices are not back to pre-GFC levels,” Castran says. “(But) Mount Buller does well given its proximity to Melbourne; it is only three hours’ drive.
“While the Mount Hotham and Falls Creek (property market) is weaker, the market for Dinner Plane next to Mount Hotham is very strong because it has the highest freehold land in Australia, and the banks like freehold land.”
Christa Zirknitzer, director of Zirky’s Real Estate, says Mount Hotham and Falls Creek have produced some good real estate turnover.
“There have been much better prices than the 2011 fire-sale prices,” she says. “But obviously there is a lot of stock on the market. We get a lot of buyers out of Albury and Wodonga and people from Melbourne. And it’s definitely the family market who are buying.”
Zirknitzer has listed a four-bedroom apartment at the QT complex for $1.295m. It is non-managed, she says, which means there are no restrictions on owner use of the luxury Falls Creek apartment.
A Melbourne family has just forked out $770,000 for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom unit in the Ropers Apartments in Falls Creek.
More affordable properties at Falls Creek include a four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the Village which is on the market for $450,000 through Falls Creek Real Estate principal Ted Weeks.
“The market at the moment is more buoyant than I have seen it for quite some time,” Weeks says. “Properties in the alps are down to their lowest prices in years, and in the past week I have sold three apartments.
“Some of these properties return in winter alone 5 per cent net and the current term deposit is 3 per cent. And of course the people can use them all summer, it’s
Two blocks of land at Higgi Drive, Mount Buller, sold over Easter for $14,000 and $18,000
lovely up here in summer. Mountain biking has really taken off here, like it has in Jackson Hole (in Wyoming, US).”
Holiday rentals are also performing well at Falls Creek. Katrina Milne of Mountain Multiservice Accommodation, which rents 70 private apartments each season, says bookings in the run up to this year’s ski season are strong.
“Everyone is booking in nice and early, we have gaps available but people need to get on to it very quickly,” she says. Milne says two-bedroom private apartments rent from $2000 to $4000 a week in the peak season, with the average costing about $3000.
Across the border in Jindabyne, NSW, which is close to several ski resorts in the Kosciuszko National Park including Thredbo and Perisher, there’s a lack of properties to buy in the run-up to this year’s ski season, Jindabyne Real Estate principal Don Killin says.
“We have had a massive demand for property over the past 12 months,” Killin says. “We are at that stage where there is very little left for sale in Jindabyne and there are always buyers.”
Despite the lack of stock, Killin says Sydney buyers always act at this time of year, between Easter and late April. “It takes them up to the ski season,” he says.
Killin says alpine house and apartment prices were stable for the past decade but because of the price boom in Sydney and historically low interest rates they have surged.
Most buyers will pay about $450,000. For that they will get a four-bedroom townhouse with two bathrooms that will sleep 10 people. It will generate rents of about $40,000 across the winter months or about $4000 a week in the peak ski season.
“Because buyers are not necessarily getting younger they are looking for more modern property and for properties they can use year-round because the growth in summer tourism is strong,” Killin says. “It’s a property they can use during school holidays and weekends during winter and generate a good return from holiday lettings.”
In the more up-market ski village of Thredbo, Glenn Smith of Discover Thredbo real estate is marketing Fire Dreaming, with an asking price of $1.8m for the five-bedroom chalet.
Smith, who is the vendor, says Fire Dreaming at 3 Summit Way is positioned on the largest slice of land available in Thredbo. In peak season the five-bedroom property rents for $13,500 a week and there are solid bookings for the coming ski season.
“It would be the most booked-out property on the mountain,” Smith says.
“We are getting a lot of inquiry at the lower end of the Thredbo real estate market. The higher end has been damaged by the banks because the banks don’t want to lend more than 60 per cent of the value of the property.”
Smith says there is a lot of inquiry for properties in the $500,000 to $600,000 range. “That is what people are buying. The high end is very difficult.”
Skiers catch a lift at Mount Buller, main picture; Fire Dreaming, top and above, a fivebedroom Thredbo chalet on the market for $1.8 million; a four-bedroom apartment in the QT complex at Falls Creek listed for $1.295m, left