Prestige property: it’s all off the record

Posted on 26 Apr 2016, 1:32 p.m. in News


In the background of Melbourne's property market, prestige homes are bought and sold on the QT, writes Clare Barry.

In the hubbub of open houses and auctions that defines Melbourne’s property market, a rarefied sector operates discreetly, often unlisted and quietly transacted. 

“The top end works to a completely different drumbeat,” says buyer’s advocate David Morrell. “You’ll notice they rarely auction properties north of $6-$7 million, and we’re seeing a lot of bigger sales transacted without any agent. Privacy is a very big issue at the top end.”

Abercromby’s conducts 70 per cent of its business off market, according to director Jock Langley, tapping an ever-growing database of potential buyers and sellers.

He travels abroad to market directly to overseas buyers, mainly in Asia, targeting both foreigners and expats seeking a “return” property. 

Those at the very top end of the market are seeking a trophy home, says Morrell, or are trading up to a bigger house for family. Many want a recently renovated house, and bigger blocks of land. “They want  [up to] 40,000 square feet, and the fact is there aren’t too many of those homes left in Toorak, they’ve been subdivided.”

Morrell believes the prestige market has moved little in the past 10 months, with the behind-closed-doors nature of the sector making it difficult to track a sale’s progress.

‘You’ll notice they rarely auction properties north of $6 or $7 million.’Buyer’s advocate David Morrell

“What happens is they put it up for an EOI (expression of interest) and then it just disappears into the sunset. You never know what was offered or whether they got an offer or not. Most EOIs north of $10-$15 million are languishing.”

So for those who seek them, what makes a single $20 million home worth 27 median-priced Melbourne houses?

“It’s land holding, it’s scarcity, but it’s also a home that’s going to provide a lifestyle not just for a few years but usually for a generation,” says Marshall White’s Marcus Chiminello.

“Most buyers looking to spend $15 to $20 million at the moment tend to require a tennis court and beautiful views and a walk-in proposition, there are many attributes on an emotional level that will drive buyers above and beyond the logical things.

“But there are always buyers in Melbourne, whether local or international, who are prepared to pay $15 [million, up to] even $30 million for a home when the right thing comes up. But it’s got to be near perfect, otherwise they’ll just wait for the next opportunity.”

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