Trends at the top end of Sydney’s property market – a tale of two cities

November 1st, 2009

sydney

This edition of CurtiseCall looks at trends over the past six weeks in the eastern and northern Sydney prestige property market.

In the shoot out between east and north, it has been a tale of two cities with the lower north shore suburb of Mosman recording at least twenty-one sales above $2 million in the past six weeks which is more than triple the number of sales in the same bracket in its eastern suburbs rival, Woollahra.

The Mosman sales have included:

  • 1/65 The Esplanade – $5.25 million
  • 7 Harbour Street – $2.33 million
  • 15/8 Earl Street – $2.15 million
  • 59 Bay Street – price undisclosed
  • 26 Euryalus Street – around $2.85 million
  • 14 Awaba Street – $2.3 million
  • 29 Congewoi Road – price undisclosed
  • 25 Bradleys Head Rd – $2.775 million
  • 4 Effingham Street – $2.45 m
  • 28 Upper Avenue Road – $2 million
  • 68 Glover Street – $2.05m
  • 4 Moruben Road – price undisclosed
  • 27 Ryrie Street – under $2.45 million
  • 25 Queen Street – $2.25 million
  • 4/20 Parriwi Road – $4.35 million
  • 14 Amaroo Crescent – price undisclosed
  • 24 Ruby Street – $2.625 million
  • 21 Kardinia Road – $4.025 million
  • 13A Elfrida Street – over $4 million
  • 68 Cabramatta Road – $2.24 million
  • 14 Kirkoswald Avenue – $2.6 million.

The Woollahra sales have included:

  • 2 Russell Street – price undisclosed
  • 91 John Street – $2.9 million
  • 96 Holdsworth Street – price undisclosed
  • 35 Ocean Street – price undisclosed
  • 10-12 Ocean Street – $2.43 million
  • 319A Edgecliff Road – $2.5 million
  • 49 Queen Street – $2.4 million.

The significant difference in top end sales volumes between these two blue ribbon suburbs reveals a lot about how Sydney’s prestige real estate market performs through the economic cycles.

Possibly because Mosman has a higher concentration of leveraged and aspirant wealth types than Woollahra, it was one of the first suburbs to feel the brunt of the now almost forgotten global financial crisis.

If the above sales evidence is any guide, Mosman is becoming the first suburb to re- boot after the general malaise which that crisis produced at the top end.

The main reason for this is simple: Prices. They have moved down in Mosman but are still showing signs of resistance across the Harbour Bridge.

Whilst some market commentators quibble about the fall in median house prices for Mosman, regular readers of CurtiseCall will know that we prefer analysis from the coal face on a case by case basis rather than analysis of movements in median prices – CurtiseCall October 2008.

At that micro level, there is little doubt that people lost money in Mosman during the global financial crisis with 14 Kirkoswald Avenue, Mosman being a recent example. It sold for $2.6 million which chalked up a loss of $400,000 in two years.

As buyers agents and buyers advocates in Sydney, the experience of Curtis Associates in the past six weeks has been that buyers of prestige property on the lower north shore are returning. These buyers are enticed by a sense that with the improvement in nearly all key economic indicators and despite an earlier than expected 0.25% hike in the official interest rate with further increases certain, the market has bottomed.

Those purchasers have been met by vendors for whom the global financial crisis had postponed indefinitely their selling plans but who now have more realistic expectations.

This trend began in Mosman in the $1 million to $2 million bracket.

A prime example is 1A Earl Street, Mosman. With an asking price of $1.5 million, this property languished on the market for 111 days before a change of selling agent and vendor expectations produced a fast sale for $1.4 million prior to its scheduled 24 October 2009 auction.

In the past six weeks, this trend has quickly spread to the $2 million to $3 million bracket in which fifteen of the twenty one Mosman sales mentioned above occurred.

Above $3 million, activity in Mosman, as in other parts of the lower north shore, tapers off with vendors either refusing to accept or being ignorant of the current trends in the Sydney prestige property market. Presumably, they also do not know about the number of quality properties now becoming available off market in this bracket.

Examples of vendor intransigence at this level have included:

  • 36 Aubin Street, Neutral Bay which is still on the market with $3 million plus expectations having passed in at a poorly attended auction on 1 October 2009 for $2.91 million
  • 47 Spruson Street, Neutral Bay where a $3.1 million dollar offer was rejected despite the fact that the property had been on the market for over six months.

Buyers of prestige Sydney real estate above $4 million – $5 million are relatively scarce on both sides of the Harbour Bridge with the appreciating Australian dollar contributing to that trend especially at the ultra top end.

On the north side, sales in this bracket in the past six weeks have included:

  • 143 High Street, Kirribilli – $4.075 million
  • 13A Elfrida Street, Mosman – over $4 million
  • 31 Carrington Road, Mosman – $5.625 million.

In the eastern suburbs and of which CurtiseCall regards Woollahra to be the bellwether, the re-boot has yet to occur in the $2 million plus bracket with the result that activity at the top end is still relatively subdued.

Examples of prestige real estate sales in the past six weeks in those areas are:

  • 16 Oswald Street, Randwick – $2.755 million
  • 1 Streatfield Road, Bellevue Hill – $3.65 million
  • 13 Boambillee Avenue, Vaucluse – $ 4.66 million
  • 424 Bronte Road, Bronte – $5.3 million
  • 112 Hopetoun Avenue, Vaucluse – $ 5.65 million
  • 76 Wolseley Road, Point Piper – $ 13.2 million.Elsewhere in the east, parts of the very top end of Sydney’s luxury property market remain trapped by the post global financial crisis malaise with prime offerings such as the top floor penthouse on the north west corner of Rockwall Apartments at 2001 / 7 Rockwall Crescent, Potts Point attracting little buyer interest. Two years ago, a top end buyer would have been bowled over in the rush to acquire that penthouse.

    In this market, the Rockwall penthouse joins Ashington Development’s apparently stalled penthouse development at 10 Wylde Street, Potts Point.

    CurtiseCall predicts that things will remain that way throughout the eastern suburbs – unless that is, a little bit of Mosman dust gets sprinkled.