Lured by postcard views and a front-row seat to some of Australia’s most internationally renowned sights, buyers rare rushing to buy apartments with a new level of luxury.
A four-bedroom apartment in the 20-story Opera Residences at Sydney’s Circular Quay, the first built in the tightly held precinct in more than a decade, set a price record in November, selling for A$27 million (US$19.8 million).
The buyer, whose identity is undisclosed, also purchased two three-bedroom apartments on the floor below, reportedly for their children, for a combined A$31 million (US$22.8 million)— spending A$57 million in total (US$41 million).
A separate three-bedroom apartment in the Opera Residences sold in the same month for A$26 million (US$19 million), setting Australia’s price-per-square-meter benchmark soaring to A$95,000 (US$70,000).
Thanks to its position, vistas, and luxury, the building’s location has been compared to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue or Central London’s Belgravia.
The building, designed by global architectural firm Tzannes, with high-end interiors of marble and stone by Make Architects, is on the last remaining piece of freehold land on Bennelong Point overlooking Australia’s national icons: the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
“Opera Residences inhabits Sydney’s, if not Australia’s, rarest land,” selling agent CBRE senior director Tim Rees said.
“For nearly 25 years, no buyers have been able to purchase a freehold residential residence ‘off the plan’ in this incredible, world famous location—and it’s highly likely this buying opportunity will never be repeated.”
The Opera Residences’ record prices surpassed the country’s previous record set in 2015 off-the-plan sale of an 800-square meter (8,611-square-foot) penthouse atop the Australia 108 tower in the heart of Melbourne’s Southbank.
Spread across the 100th floor, the Australia 108 penthouse sold for A$25 million. The building will be the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest tower when it’s completed in 2019.
Prior to Australia 108’s penthouse record, the title of Australia’s most expensive apartment has previously belonged to a two-story penthouse within the upscale A$450 million (US$326 million) Pacific Bondi Beach project, which sold for A$21 million (US$15 million).
The desire for high-end apartments among Australia’s wealthy buyers is hardly new, as they pursue absolute luxury, along with amenities, ease of access and security. However, it’s the rise of the “jumbo apartment” that is becoming more prevalent, according to Simon Felich, director at prestige valuer Dyson Austen, who said these luxury sky homes deliver “a dream package.”
Defining “jumbo apartments” as properties priced at A$10 million (US$7.2 million) or more, he said they were attractive to both cashed-up Australians and offshore buyers.
“Often [high-end] buyers are at an age where they’ve sold their business or retired from work,” he said. “They want ease of living and they want everything taken care of,” he said.
“The really special apartments found in places such as Bondi Beach or Circular Quay are in internationally renowned locations and these phenomenal apartments offer house-like proportions and uninterrupted views,” Mr. Felich continued.
And some could even say they’re a relative bargain.
“When you compare them to London, New York or Paris, they’re not expensive,” Mr. Felich said. “Australia has great appeal; it’s a safe haven, with a stable political and economic environment as well as the most beautiful lifestyle.”
Fronting Bondi Beach’s main strip, Campbell Parade, and overlooking the beachfront, the Pacific Bondi Beach was awarded “Development of the Year” at Urban Taskforce’s 2016 Development Excellence Awards in July.
Simultaneously launched in 2015 to buyers in Sydney and Hong Kong, 74 of the 76 available apartments sold within hours of being released, totaling A$164 million (US$121 million) in sales on the first day.
Demand for prestigious beachfront apartments also spilled over to Sydney’s northern beaches in 2016, with four of the six beachfront apartments in the yet-to-be-built CostaFox development, Bower Manly, snapped up on release and setting new suburb records in the process.
A local buyer paid A$9.5 million (US$7 million) for a three-bedroom nautical-inspired apartment, setting a new A$33,800 per-square-meter price record for the suburbs in the process. The building is designed by architect Koichi Takada with custom beach interiors by award-winning interior designer Miriam Fanning of Mim Design.
CostaFox director Michael Fox believes Sydney’s housing market has room for more prestige properties as buyers seek “boutique and unique” homes. He identified Manly, a beachside haven a 30-minute ferry ride across Sydney Harbour, known for its clean beaches and thriving restaurants, as an area with luxury potential.
Mr. Fox described it as an “in-demand” location, with few options available on the market for luxury buyers.
“We wanted to bring to the market really big apartments with high-end finishes,” he said.
“If you want to attract the right people you have to give them something pretty flashy and customized with big finishes, top quality stone, top of the range appliances and a great location,” said Mr. Fox.
“The square meter rate is really getting up there, but to achieve those prices you have to deliver a very high-end, customized, finish,” he said.