Despite a downturn in activity, the luxury property market enjoyed a slew of record-smashing sales in the first half of this year — but further softening is predicted.

By MARK BROWNING, HEAD OF PROPERTY SERVICES GROUP, NAB

WITH INTEREST RATES increasing and international borders reopening, the luxury property market is entering a transition phase.

Unlike the premium (top 25%) and broader markets, which are historically more sensitive to interest rate increases, the luxury market (top 2%) is renowned for a different set of drivers including share market performance and outlook, business executive bonuses and international interest/diversification.

2021 was a golden year for luxury property. This year has enjoyed continued healthy demand, despite a softening in activity and value gains in the first half of the year.

Property prices have eased across both the premium and luxury segments, but the luxury market continues to provide stronger annual value gains over the past 12 months.

Across the five major capital cities, luxury dwelling values are up 12% on the last year, while the premium price bracket has realised a lower yet still strong 10.3% value rise since the end of May 2021.

The softening in value gains has triggered a downturn in overall buyer confidence, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

However, the return of international migration, particularly from Asia, has rekindled activity in 2022. This factor is expected to continue to shield the smaller luxury segment in the year ahead. The luxury end of the market will likely see a hibernation, with vendors choosing to hold properties rather than sell.

Here’s a closer look at what’s happening in the eastern states.

Melbourne

In the past 15 months, there have been more than 50 sales surpassing $10 million in Toorak, Melbourne’s most affluent and expensive suburb. Almost 20 of these have been above $20 million.

Across the board, buyer demand has softened in 2022. However, the opening months of the year still saw a raft of jaw-dropping sales in the more affluent suburbs.

A contemporary mansion at 802 Orrong Road, Toorak sold for $38.5 million in an off-market transaction in late February, making it the biggest sale of the year so far.

Close by, at 28 Grange Road, Toorak, an opulent home was sold for $22.25 million in late January 2022, taking second place on the list of Melbourne’s most expensive properties sold this year.

Kew has also seen the suburb record broken, with “La Verna” at 39 Sackville Street reported to have been sold for more than $20 million in April this year, joining a number of other sales in the $15–20 million price bracket in this tightly held suburb in recent months.

Further south, the Mornington Peninsula has benefited from an extended summer selling period, with many sales reportedly punching beyond $5 million this year, mostly in the affluent hinterland suburbs of Red Hill, Flinders and Main Ridge. A luxury, 6.5-hectare estate in Red Hill South is rumoured to have been sold for more than $25 million in March — an eye-watering figure that sets a new record for the peninsula. The same month, an overseas buyer snapped up an 8.7-hectare estate in Flinders for a cool $23.5 million, creating a new suburb record.

Sydney

After 260 sales topping $10 million in Sydney in 2021, activity has slowed slightly — even with the return of foreign buyers to one of the most expensive markets in the world.

Several $20 million-plus sales have already occurred this year, with nine in the first quarter, up on six from the same quarter last year. April and May of this year produced strong results in the well-heeled suburbs of Point Piper, Vaucluse and Darling Point. The February sale of a non-waterfront mansion along Wentworth Road in Vaucluse for more than $62 million placed it among the top 10 most expensive houses in Australia. Similarly, 3 Lindsay Avenue in Darling Point, which sold for a reported $60 million in March, also made the top 10 list. Another recent trophy home sale was “Akuna” in Point Piper for a reported $45 million in April. The property boasts a multi-level mansion with private beach access and a boatshed.

Additionally, Rose Bay saw a $29 million waterfront home purchased in February, while other suburbs such as Bondi Beach (a rumoured $24 million for a beachside apartment), Centennial Park ($20.5 million), Bronte ($17.7 million), Pymble ($15 million), Dover Heights ($14.25 million), Paddington ($12 million) and Castlecrag ($12 million) have all seen new records set in 2022.

Queensland

The removal of Queensland’s tight border restrictions has drawn yet more luxury buyers to the south-eastern cities of Brisbane, the Gold

Coast and the Sunshine Coast, confirming that this region remains the most in-demand for both interstate and international buyers.

In Brisbane, strong buyer activity and demand from affluent purchasers has centred around suburbs such as Ascot, Hamilton, Paddington and Kangaroo Point. The highest residential sale so far in 2022 occurred south of the city, in Robertson, where a 1-hectare property comprising a six-bedroom mansion, swimming pool and tennis court achieved a $17.25 million price.

The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast remain high on the priority list for wealthy Australian and international buyers. Several sales in excess of $7.5 million have been confirmed this year in the tightly held beachfront locations, including a number of sales along Millionaires’ Row in Mermaid Beach. Other suburbs providing strong results in the upper end of the market include Miami, Currumbin and Palm Beach. Canal-front locations such as Broadbeach, Mermaid Waters and Sovereign Islands are similarly in demand.

The Noosa region on the Sunshine Coast continues to attract wealthy buyers. Suburbs such as Noosa Heads and Sunshine Beach have dominated the biggest sales this year, with a home on Arakoon Crescent in Sunshine Beach achieving a whopping $28.5 million in April — the most paid for a house in Queensland so far this year.

These record sales point to the resilience of the top end of the housing market- a trend that’s expected to continue.

The information contained in this article is gathered from multiple sources believed to be reliable as at June 2022 and is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, National Australia Bank Limited ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 230686 (NAB) recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. NAB recommends that you seek independent legal, financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.