How extensive is the Australian property investor market?
IS there another major change to the Australian Housing Market … that has possibly had an even greater impact … ? Could that be the enormous competition from overseas parking their ‘Hot Money’ in our property market? Perhaps the Australian Supply could not keep up with this demand?
Fresh analysis has claimed the Coalition’s new housing deposit schemeworsens inequality and fails to address wider problems in the housing market.
CoreLogic head of Australian research Eliza Owen has argued in a blog post that the Morrison government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) will give a leg-up to high-income earners and do little to boost home ownership rates.
Reserve Bank and Grattan Institute research shows home ownership rates among Australia’s top 20 per cent of income earners already sits well above the national average.
Yet, under the Coalition’s new scheme, these high-income individuals are eligible for the same level of government assistance as low-income earners.
“The scheme could be granting easier access to home ownership to people who are already more likely to attain it,” Ms Owen told The New Daily.
The Coalition’s scheme started on January 1 and provides government-guaranteed loans to first home buyers with deposits as low as 5 per cent of the purchase price.
It will help successful applicants get into the property ladder much sooner and remove the need to pay lenders’ mortgage insurance, which often runs into tens of thousands of dollars.
And Ms Owen said it also risks increasing inequality among hopeful home owners by giving a leg-up to high-income earners.
The scheme is open to individuals who earn a before-tax income of up to $125,000 a year and couples who earn up to $200,000.
Given individuals earning an annual salary of $125,000 are in the top 20 per cent of income earners, Ms Owen said the scheme’s income thresholds were too high.
Home ownership rates are much higher among this income bracket than lower income brackets – yet the FHLDs offers both groups the same level of assistance.
“The scheme may actually provide more advantage to those earning towards the top of the threshold,” Ms Owen wrote in her blog.
“Because they can save a 5 per cent deposit more quickly, and the scheme is currently limited to 10,000 guarantees a year.”
According to Ms Owen’s calculations, individuals at the top end of the scheme’s income threshold can save a 5 per cent deposit on a median-valued property ($540,974) in 18 months, while median income earners ($78,000) need 27 months, and low-income earners ($48,100) need 39 months.
But Ms Owen said high-income earners would likely take even less time to save a deposit, as the calculations assume that buyers across all income brackets will save 20 per cent of their income, when, in reality, higher-income earners can often save much more.
Asked what else the Coalition could have done to make life easier for aspiring home owners, Ms Owen said “there should be greater emphasis on building more social and affordable housing”.
“And some of the most impactful policies on home prices has been policies that limit investor participation in the market,” Ms Owen added.
CAAN: What could possibly be the other cause? What is it that the Researchers, Journalists, University Professors … Economists seem to overlook … what’s so bleedin obvious when one visits the CBD … any major shopping outlet … sits on a bus or in the train … the supermarket …
IT’S all the ‘new people’ … the new ‘permanent residents’ … OH!
EB: Ms Owen is far from the only property analyst to criticise the scheme.
*Brendan Coates, director of household finances at the Grattan Institute, previously told The New Daily that the scheme was too small to have an impact on affordability, and that an expandedversion would only serve to turbocharge prices, by ramping up demand.
Sydney’s luxury property agents are bringing forward listings and spending up on fancy cars to impress international clients on the eve of Chinese New Year.
The Chinese New Year is an annual high point in the local sales calendar but has lost steam since mid-2016 as a result of tighter restrictions on foreign ownership.
CAAN: Can you believe it? What happened wasCHINA imposed capitalcontrols to stop money leaving China at that time …
How can small percentage fees imposed by Australian State Governments … increasing by a mere 1 or 2% …. have any impact on people of High Net Worth? Seriously?
SH: Juwai, China’s largest property portal, registered an uptick of interest in Australian property in early 2019, with inquiries increasing 40 per cent. Last year, Chinese buyers made 60 per cent more inquiries for Australian property on the platform in the five weeks after the holiday than they did on average during the whole year.
“2019 was the year in which Chinese demand finally started to recover, after falling since 2016 to very low levels … we expect 2020 to see further improvement.”
In preparation, Sotheby’s Australia boss Michael Pallier has picked up a new Rolls-Royce Ghost ahead of a busy week of high-end showings, as 10 clients from mainland China arrive.
Other agents, including Black Diamondz boss Monika Tu, are entertaining with events organised through the likes of BMW and other luxury brands, who are keen to kit buyers out once they purchase their house.
Waterfrontproperty in the eastern suburbs at Point Piper and Bellevue Hill, and larger compounds across the upper north shore at Turramurra, Warrawee and Wahroonga are among the listings.
For Mr Pallier, the Chinese New Year is one of two annual spikes from offshore buyers, including a “golden week” holiday toward the end of the year. He says activity isn’t back to where it was in late 2015 when he drove clients around in a Bentley coupe and expected to turn over more than $100 million in property in a two-week period.This year, he expects to turn over about $30 million.
“The pool of buyers isn’t as large as it was before, but they’re still there and they are more likely to make repeat transactions,” he said.
Most of Mr Pallier’s clients are chasing good schools. Other agents say protests in Hong Kong are driving significant investor visa holders to take the plunge and buy up in Australia.
Chinese buyers who were affected by Xi Jinping’s effort to tighten capital outflows from China from 2016 onwards are also back in the market, after securing other sources of cash to complete transactions, or visas, such as the significant investor visa, ahead of time.
CAAN: China eased its capital controls in 2019 hence the return to investing in our Real Estate.
“I don’t believe that Chinese demand has ever dropped away; it’s simply that it became increasingly difficult for them to organise their funds,” Christie’s International agent Darren Curtis said.
He said the rebound in interest is most noticeable among buyers looking at properties priced from $5 million to $15 million, who were worst impacted when capital controls first took hold.
Agents are united in the belief that demand isn’t quite back to where it was.
“The Chinese [high net worth investors] … are often a bit more cautious than what we’ve seen back in 2014-2016,” Ray White director Victor Sheu.
“Chinese New Year will increase inquiry activity but not actual transactions until a later date.”
The “bank of mum and dad” is helping adult children with not only housing costs but everything from fuel and phone bills to holidays, a new survey shows.
More than half of Australian parents surveyed subsidise the lifestyles of their adult children, with almost 40 per cent letting them live rent-free and about the same proportion paying for their groceries.
About one in three parents help pay for mobile phones, internet or other bills, according to a survey by comparison platform Finder, while one in five pay for some or all of their children’s holidays.
*Another 15 per cent lent or gifted money for a home deposit, 15 per cent charged lower rents, 5 per cent went guarantor on a home loan and 4 per cent helped with mortgage payments.
Rising property prices, particularly the return to price growth seen in Sydney and Melbourne after their market slumps, have raised fresh worries about how aspiring home owners can afford to get onto the property ladder.
“As a parent myself, it does concern me that we are seeing a future generation that relies on their parents for everything,” said Kate Browne, a personal finance expert at Finder.
“We know that a lot of younger people do rely on the family to help bolster them when trying to scrape enough money together for a home deposit … but we were surprised [by how many are helping with] day-to-day costs.”
The survey of 1020 adults included 419 parents who all had children over 18, and found about 16 per cent paid for or subsidised tertiary studies. Some 22 per cent paid for car-related costs such as registration and petrol, while similar numbers (21 per cent) paid for transport and part or all of their child’s car.
While this may suggest they had very young adult children, Ms Browne said, a quarter surveyed were also providing free childcare for grandchildren.
“We’re looking at a generation of ageing Australians providing an awful lot of childcare, and ageing parents potentially putting themselves at financial risk to support their adult children,” Ms Browne said.
HOW DO YOU FINANCIALLY HELP YOUR ADULT CHILDREN?
Pay for groceries
Paying for bills (broadband, mobile phone, energy)
Provide free childcare
Paying for car-related costs (rego, petrol, car insurance)
Paid for part or all of car
Paying for transport
Paying for some or all of holidays
Paying for/subsidising tertiary education
Charging low rent
Loan/money for a home deposit
Helped with wedding costs
Going/went guarantor for their home loan
Help them pay their mortgage
Source: Finder. Note: Survey was conducted in December 2019.
Rising property prices meant relying on the bank of mum and dad for help with a home deposit had become “a fact of life” for many, Ms Browne said. However she noted such help made it even harder for other first-home buyers, who couldn’t get funds from their parents, to get onto the property ladder.
While some would be able to get assistance under the recently launched federal government First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, only 10,000 of the 100,000 or so first-home buyers who enter the market each financial year will be able to get assistance. All 3000 spaces released so far have already been reserved.
The great disparity between wage growth and property prices growth in recent years had made it more common for younger generations to rely on the bank of mum and dad, said social researcher Ashley Fell from McCrindle Research.
“They’re living at home for longer to alleviate some of the costs that they face,” she said. “The stigma of living at home into your late 20s has been removed, everyone knows the housing market is tough.”
Younger generations are also more likely to study at university, enter the workforce later and are delaying traditional life markers such as having children and getting married, Ms Fell says. Even some Millennials who had children were moving back to the parental nest, she noted.
“They’re starting earning years later in life and stating with a greater debt,” she said. “We also know they have a great desire to travel, so they’ve got competing priorities in terms of savings.”
While giving financial help for other expenses had become more acceptable, even expected by some, Ms Browne urged parents to choose wisely.
“Helping your kids in any way you can is how many see the job of a parent, but mum and dad need to make sure they aren’t hurting themselves in the process,” she said.
Ms Fell said: “A negative impact of this next generation staying at home longer is parents need to and already are working longer.”
Ms Browne added it was also important for adults to become financially responsible.
“When learning to look after yourself financially, you learn through experience … until you’ve moved out of home, blown all your money and can’t afford your groceries, you don’t really learn the importance of budgeting,” she said.
“[And] if you’re going to keep getting bailed out by mum and dad, it’ s probably not a lesson you’re going to learn.”
Weighing up how to financially support adult children is a situation faced by many parents, according to wealth coach Jackson Millan, chief executive of Aureus Financial, who believes it is important to enforce good money management habits early.
“A bank wouldn’t continue to lend money without a clear strategy … without an end in mind, the bank of mum and dad should be the same,” he said. “If kids are employed but they still need help with bills, rent and their car, you may not be setting a good long-term behaviour pattern if you help them.”
Parents will always look to support children in times of hardship if they can, Mr Millan says, and try help them take the very difficult first step onto the property ladder. But, he said, paying for negotiable expenses and “nice to haves” such as holidays could set a bad precedent and encourage children to live beyond their means.
Mr Millan said it was best to treat the root cause, rather than treating money shortfalls with a Band-Aid solution.
“Financial literacy is not taught as it should be at schools,” he added. “So urging your kids to learn the fundamentals of finance and money is really important.”
IN the lead-up to the Christmas holiday season the deviloper, TOPLACErezoning review was lodged to the NSW Government on December 3, 2019
THIS is what ‘they do’ … when people are not looking …
HOW come this proposal was returned to NSW Planning when the outcome of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into building standards only went as far as calling for the establishment of a sufficiently resourced commission … where are the protections for residential apartment home buyers?
HOW come Nassif can ‘jump the gun’?
IT appears that again NSW INC only serves the likes of Toplace, their foreign buyers and this proposal happens to coincide with the HONG KONG MTR Consortium SYDNEY METRO … for the money laundering demand … and … Ji Xingping’s plan … the Metro lines all link to Chatswood … built by Chinese Communist Party money … view article and audio from David Lee GeoPolitical Strategist on our website!
IT appears the Cherrybrook residents are being bulldozed to get out of the way for more ‘Hot Money’ … enabled by A NSW INC ‘GATEWAY DETERMINATION’ for 46 SH.TTERBOX Residential Apartment Developments!
VIEW ON CAAN FACEBOOK: ‘SYDNEY PROPERTY DEVELOPER JEAN NASSIF BUSTED WITH COCAINE IN POLICE STING AT STAR CASINO’ *
SEARCH CAAN WEBSITE for more reports about Jean Nassif and Toplace.
Toplace’s Jean Nassif revives 46-tower plan for Cherrybrook
Multimillion-dollar plans by property mogul Jean Nassif for 46 high-rise towers to be built in Sydney’s northwest have been revived after a council objected to the plans for being “overcooked”.
Jake McCallum, Urban Affairs Reporter, Hills Shire Times
Colossal plans to transform humble homes into 46 high-rise towers ranging from two to 16 storeys in height — which were shot down by a northwest Sydney council last year — have been revived.
Property developer Toplace was met with a barrage of objections from The Hill Shire Council over its plans for 3200 homes at the Cherrybrook Metro Station when councillors voted to reject the proposal on October 22.
However, the multimillion-dollar proposal that would see dozens of towers stretch along Castle Hill Rd from Highs Rd to Coonara Ave, Cherrybrook has been revived by Toplace with a rezoning review submitted to NSW Planning.
*A Toplace planner called on a NSW Planning Department director to provide a strategic and site specific merit assessment for the plans.
“The planning proposal seeks Gateway Determination to commence amendment of the (Hills) Local Environment Plansto change the zoning, height of building and FSR provisions.
The Toplace proposal, which was rejected by council for being “inconsistent with infrastructure an liveability priorities” and being considered as “an overdeveloplment of the site” also offered a range of open spaces, as well as business, retail, community and recreational spaces.
CAAN: Probably the usual range put forward by developers but how adequate will they be in viewof the high density?
The Hills Shire Council also argued Toplace developer Jean Nassif’s proposal
“precedes the completion of detailed and holistic precinct planning and infrastructure analysis for the Cherrybrook Station Precinct”
and did not adequately consider the capacity of the local and regional road network.
*However, in its submission for rezoning review, a Toplace planner argued that with the Cherrybrook Metro Station already in operation “the delivery of housing supply is already significantly out of sequence with infrastructure investment and should not be further delayed”.
“The masterplan involves the creation a vibrant new transit-orientedprecinct within walking distance of the recently opened Cherrybrook Metro Station, which provides less than 30 minute access to the wide range of jobs available within Castle Hill, Norwest, Macquarie Park, Chatswood and St Leonards,” the planner said.
“Upon completion of the Metro City and South West in 2024 (the proposal) will provide 30 minute access to the jobs available in North Sydney and the Sydney CBD.”
The rezoning review was lodged to the NSW Government on December 3, 2019.
Daily Telegraph: What Cherrybrook could look like in 2037
THIS REPORT also raises even more issues for Australia … our security!
NOT only do we have Real Estate OVERDEVELOPMENT for the ‘foreign money laundering market’ of CHINA and INDIA
BUT with this OVERDEVELOPMENT … NSW INC has ridden roughshod over the Windsor Community … to demolish their Heritage Windsor Bridge and Thompson Square to make way for*DAMAGING sand mining in the Hawkesbury River!
AND with the ‘splash of cash’ … Hot Money … where are the checks … the vetting of thousands of people flying in weekly to buy this Real Estate? Who are they? Among them are there …
-members of the Chinese Communist Party? (Yes)
-triads … flying into Sydney Casinos? (Yes)
View: An Australian Border Force official provided security for an international criminal fugitive who has worked with Crown Resorts to bring Chinese high rollers into Australia.
“But it’s not only journalists. It’s also environmental activists, police officers, government officials — and that’s not counting all the ones who have been threatened, who’ve been beaten up, who’ve been chased off their land.
“It’s astonishing when you start looking into it.”
A $100m residential tower proposed on the former sandstone quarry site in Gosford is back on public exhibition.
The proposed development at 87-89 John Whiteway Drive has been scaled down once again with a reduction in apartment numbers from 262 to 237 as well as a significantly smaller basement with carparking numbers dropping from 587 to 340.
Each of the five low-rise towers have a reduced footprint along with increased space between blocks.
Changes have also been made to communal spaces and the aesthetics of the development to be built on the ridge overlooking Gosford.
The plan initially proposed 299 apartments and was scaled down to 262 in January 2019 after receiving community objections around overshadowing, construction noise, traffic, parking and lack of public space for children to play.
*The latest changes to the site, owned by Pinnacle Construction Group, will be on exhibition until February 3.
The complex is proposed to be built in three stages starting with the basement carpark, followed by three blocks and then the final two blocks along with a swimming pool and communal areas. There will be a mix of one, two, three and four bedroom units.
Development consent was previously granted by Gosford City Council in 2004 for a residential flat building with 178 units.
The application will be decided by the Hunter Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Meanwhile, construction is set to begin down the road on Gosford’s most notorious and longest running hole.
Last November, Pinnacle Construction Group confirmed construction will begin on a $60 million 97-apartment development at 86 John Whiteway Drive.
Pinnacle purchased the site in June 2018 and have been carrying out cleaning and clearing works and making small modifications to the plans.
*The group’s funding principal Joe Bechara told the Express the development would be similar to the existing approved plans, however the building was being reduced from 11 storeys to 10to allow more floor to ceiling space and to comply with fire regulations.*
He said the group would completely clean the site before construction, including removing existing pipe works and footings laid by previous failed developments which are around 15 years old.
“We’re going to pull it up and start fresh,” he said.
Aerial view of Gosford. Photograph: Carly Earl/The Guardian
Photograph: The Real Estate Conversation; view from the top overlooking the city and the Bay
State governments are responding to the surge in long-term renting by introducing a raft of new reforms aimed at boosting the rights of tenants.
Tenants’ advocates have welcomed the proposed changes but argue governments should go even further by abolishing ‘no grounds’ evictions.
Landlords have said the reforms will discourage investment and consequently drive up rents.
NSW, Victoria and the ACT have already legislated changes.
While the exact reforms vary from state to state, all three governments will limit rent increases, make it easier for tenants to make minor modifications, and allow domestic violence victims to immediately terminate a contract free of charge.
Queensland plans to introduce similar laws later in the year. Western Australia and the Northern Territory are currently reviewing their regulations. And South Australia and Tasmania made small changes a few years ago.
(Lists of reforms are included at the bottom of this article.)
Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam said the reforms were a “positive step in the right direction”.
But he told The New Daily they were overshadowed by the looming threat of a no-grounds eviction, with most tenants feeling too insecure to confidently assert their rights.
“As long as no grounds terminations can happen, tenants are worried,” Mr Dignam said.
“So even if the law says they can ask for a pet, they might not ask for a pet because even if the landlord has to say yes, the landlord can then terminate their tenancy for no reason.
“So that fundamentally undermines the security of the tenancy contract.”
All states currently allow landlords to evict tenants without cause once a fixed-term agreement expires – so long as they provide the required notice.
But Victorian landlords will lose this power in July, when 130 new reforms come into effect. And Queensland landlords might lose it, too, if the state government manages to pass its proposed changes.
Propertyology director and landlord Simon Pressley said such changes went against Australia’s historic commitment to private property rights.
He told The New Daily increased engagement between landlords and tenants would have led to better outcomes than “heavy-handed legislation” – which he said would discourage investment and push up rents.
“Pets are a good example. The reality is pets can cause damage to a property. The legislation can say whatever it wants about pets, but that’s a fact,” Mr Pressley said.
“So I think it is completely wrong for any state government, at any time, to say, ‘we’re going to pass some legislation that removes the right of the asset owner to say yes or no to pets’.”
Mr Pressley said he considered applications from pet-owning tenants on a case-by-case basis and had had good experiences in the past.
Pet owners often offered to pay an extra $5 a week to cover the increased financial risk, he said, while many stayed put for longer, to avoid repeating the “frustrating” process of finding a pet-friendly home.
But he said individuals who lease such an expensive asset should be entitled to “put some conditions about how it’s used and when it’s returned”.
“This is what the industry should be doing, specific to pets: Engaging in that discussion and getting landlords to see that it’s not all about risk. There’s also some opportunity there,” Mr Pressley said.
“But the tenants need to get off their high horse. They don’t have the right if they don’t own the property.”
Key changes in NSW (Applicable to leases signed after March 23, 2020)
Landlords must make sure their rental property is “structurally sound”; contains private bathroom facilities; and provides adequate lighting, ventilation, gas and electricity.
New penalties for landlords who fail to maintain smoke alarms.
Landlords will no longer be able to unreasonably stop tenants from making renovations of a “minor nature”.
Set break fees for tenants who cancel a fixed-term agreement.
Landlords can only refuse consent to tenants who wish to make minor modifications if they obtain approval from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Minor changes include: Installing picture hooks, setting up a herb garden, and affixing blinds to a window.
2017: Australia’s second richest man was almost stopped from fleeing from China to Australia in 1948 by a government decision that split his family forever …
AT CAAN we found there were still a few gaps to be filled. It is a bit of a read but well worth taking the time …
Within the article he is described as his father’s son … and this is borne out in his immense ability to accumulate wealth … his business acumen … and drawing on the childhood he spent in China to later become the means by which he became as Managing Director of MERITON,Australia’s biggestresidential propertydeveloper … was it Harry Triguboff through the Developer Lobby, the Urban Taskforce that convinced the government to increase the sell-off of ‘new homes’ from 50% to 100% overseas? And thus pioneered selling apartments to the Chinese through the FIRB Ruling.
By which means aspiring Australian First Home Buyers have been locked out by the huge competition of Chinese buyers laundering ‘black money’ in our domestic housing …
As for the money, do you believe for one minute, that the Triguboffs arrived with only some?
It seems at best disingenuous, or the very least a misinterpretation of what a lot of money was in 1948!
Ask yourself, who paid what to:
-escape China -who paid the fares -who paid the school fees/uni fees/ living expenses
It takes more than working hard to do what he did.
Some understanding of his attitude to authority is gained in the article, but why should he be treated any different to others? That’s the real question … what has happened so that he has won more than anyone else?
Is there a cloud out there, a veil that will only be lifted when he finally goes to the other place?
*Perhaps then the truth will emerge about the past, and hopefully due process available to communities across Sydney and elsewhere will have a chance to be heard, respected and achieve outcomes that are more about amenity than profit …
HARRY TRIGUBOFF’S DARK SECRET – THE 19 YEAR STRUGGLE THAT SPLIT HIS FAMILY
Harry Triguboff, meeting the AFR Magazine at his home in Sydney’s Vaucluse, breaks his silence about the one battle he couldn’t win: “I didn’t cry at the time; I cried all those years later.”
Geoff Winestock AFR Woodcut
by Geoff Winestock
Dec 8, 2017
Harry Triguboff is the hard man of Australian property. He is known for his sharp temper and his public battles with everyone from Reserve Bank governors and prime ministers to state politicians, planning bureaucrats and anyone else who gets in the way of his huge apartment construction machine, Meriton.
But there was one moment when the hardened Triguboff gave a small glimpse into the turmoil that he buries deep inside. It was 1994 when Triguboff was aged 61, his wealth and fame as “High Rise Harry” well established.
In front of 800 pupils at Sydney’s Moriah College, he took the podium at the first school assembly in the Moshe Triguboff Auditorium, newly built with his money. A small article published in Australian Jewish News captured the scene.
“Standing in Moriah College’s new modern auditorium bearing the name of his father, benefactor Harry Triguboff was almost lost for words,” the article began. “Choking with emotion, he paused several times, saying it was hard for him to speak at all.” The article did not pry into the cause of Triguboff’s tears, and he has never felt the need to publicly explain what happened. Until now.
Here, told for the first time, is the story ofthe Kafkaesque nightmare inflicted on Harry Triguboff and his family. Having fled China after World War II, Harry and his brother, Joseph, spent two decades pleading for visas so their parents could live with them in Sydney. But their pleas were rejected. Their mother, Frida, died in 1966 followed by their father, Moshe, less than a year later. He had no relatives in Israel and was alone when he died.
The reason they were refused visas remains hidden, but it almost certainly concerns allegations of wartime collaboration by Harry’s father with the Japanese.
Indeed, if the Immigration Department had its way, Harry Triguboff would never have become an Australian, let alone one of its richest men. They tried to stop him, when he was 14 years old, from fleeing here from China in 1948 and considered deporting him and his brother after the pair slipped past border authorities.
In a Sydney restaurant in 2017, Triguboff is seated at a discreet table in his business attire of jacket and tie drinking a scotch. The conversation turns to the time of his father’s death and that moment 27 years later at Moriah College. “I didn’t cry at the time. I cried all those years later, that’s when I cried,” he says. “Interesting how the mind works.”
Not one to seek sympathy
Harry Triguboff is not the type who ordinarily seeks public sympathy. Having started his business at the age of 30 in 1963 with a block of eight units in Sydney’s inner south, he has built more than 75,000 apartments, along with a fortune estimated at $11.4 billion. He is Australia’s second-richest person. He almost went broke in the 1970s, and vowed never again to be so reliant on banks.
*He pioneered selling apartments to the Chinese – a business strategy that would prove to be a stroke of genius. He has fought and won against bureaucrats and planning ministers, waged court battles against rabbis for control of Sydney’s Yeshiva Centre and beaten off bowel cancer. The architectural quality of his buildings has been attacked, most famously by Paul Keating, and his tactics as Australia’s largest landlord have landed him in court. Yet even at the age of 84, he is still in complete charge of Meriton, his work ethic driven by a relentless desire to win in the game of business.
But the story of his family also points to a desire to stay a step ahead of the arbitrary hand of fate, and never knuckle under to petty bureaucrats and politicians.
Former NSW premier Nick Greiner has known Harry Triguboff since the 1970s, when he worked for his father’s company which built roofs for Meriton apartments. Greiner says he only ever knew vague details about Triguboff’s time in China and nothing about his father’s problems. “Having heard the story I think it explains a lot,” he says. “Someone with that background would have a healthy disrespect for authority and government.” *
Until now, Triguboff has even shielded his own children from the truth. “It makes me feel sad to read what you found,” says Harry’s older daughter, Orna Triguboff. “It was certainly an injustice that I never got to know my grandparents. The few times I have seen Dad tear up were all to do with him remembering his parents not being allowed to be with us in Australia. They would have died in the Chinese civil war had it not been for the state of Israel being created and I think that is a big reason Dad is a supporter of Israel,” she says. *
“For someone who has been so very successful in his life, accomplishing what so many have not been able to do, he was not able to arrange his parents to live with us. It’s very sad. Dad is fiercely passionate about all the family staying in Sydney, always saying it’s the best place on earth. Maybe part of that passion is knowing the pain of separation when family members live far apart.”
*The story arcs across the horrors of Japan’s invasion of China, the Communist takeover, the creation of the state of Israel, the contradictions and prejudice of Australian immigration policy over two decades and an English-Canadian-Jewish adventurer who has inspired three Hollywood movies.
*It is detailed in a 300-page dossier from the Department of Immigration, held in the National Archives. Having already known the story’s bare bones, I unearthed the dossier in 2011 and sent it to Triguboff in an attempt to get him to talk. He invited me to lunch and shared a few reminiscences but declined to participate in an article.
Six years later, I tried again and the two of us met for lunch at his favourite Italian restaurant. Suspecting he would once again brush me off, I began my pitch. He quickly interrupted, and said in his abrupt and direct manner of talking:
“Turn on the tape recorder.” The 84-year-old drank two neat scotches while we talked. We spoke mostly in English, but sometimes we talked in Russian, which is a family language for both of us.
Growing up in Tianjin
Triguboff says the treatment of his father was “100 per cent an injustice”. James Brickwood
Harry Oskar Triguboff was born in China in 1933 and spent his childhood in Tianjin, a port near Beijing that China had ceded to the European imperialist powers in the 19th century. His father had fled the anti-Semitism of Tsarist Russia and moved to China in 1916. In Tianjin the Triguboff family lived on the shabbier fringe of the British and American concessions. Moshe had a store that traded woollen cloth, silk, leather, anything to turn a buck. Harry remembers his father had trouble paying the rent and he slept with his older brother Joseph and his Russian nanny in the same room.
The Chinese outside the concessions were in a different world altogether. Harry remembers seeing Chinese day labourers lugging sacks of grain up gangplanks on to barges. And then he watched as even poorer Chinese sneaked up behind them, cut holes in the sacks, and collected the grain as it seeped out to try to feed themselves.
When Japan invaded China in 1937, the British and American traders were mostly left alone in the confines of their concessions. But after their attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 and the invasion of British Malaya, the Japanese placed the British and Americans into internment camps.
Russians like the Triguboffs, however, were largely left alone. The Soviet Union shared a border with Manchuria, which had been seized by Japan, and the Japanese were careful not to provoke Moscow.
*With the British and the Americans out of the picture, the Triguboffs and other Russians seized the opportunity to take over trade in and out of China. Moshe established four more stores and put much of his wealth into building. Harry was taken to watch construction of some of the 20 apartment properties his father acquired around Tianjin.
*The Triguboffs bought a bigger house with separate rooms for the children and a car, which Harry says could drive only at walking pace because the Chinese still ambled down the narrow streets.
As a child, Harry only glimpsed the war occasionally. When taking the train back from the sea resort at Beidaihe, where his family spent the summer to escape dust storms, Harry noticed that instead of tourists the carriages were filled with coffins carrying the bodies of Japanese soldiers for burial back on the islands of Japan. He saw many, many coffins.
After Japan surrendered in 1945, the Guomindang Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek took back control. This was good for business, too. Moshe started exporting leather and pig bristles used to make brushes to the US department store Macy’s.
But in early 1946 the Triguboffs’ wartime idyll suddenly became a massive liability. The returning Guomindang were suspicious of Moshe’s wealth. The District Court of Tianjin and the British-run Customs Bureau seized all of the Triguboff shops and warehouses. Then six months later, in September 1946, the High Court of the province of Hebei arrested Moshe Triguboff and charged him with treason for collaborating with the Japanese.
Some of the Triguboff family files contained in a 300-page dossier from the Department of Immigration, held in the National Archives and recently released.
Harry, then 13, remembers the daily visits to take food to the fairly comfortable jail where his father was imprisoned. The charges against his father, he says now, were simply an attempt by the corrupt Guomindang government to extort cash. But his father refused to pay up because he was innocent. “I remember it like now,” he says. “I said, ‘Father don’t be stupid. They want money from you, what do you care …The more innocent you are the madder they get.'”
Dealing with the Japanese
He can remember one piece of business his father did with the Japanese that made him a small fortune in late 1941. When Britain declared war on Japan, the Japanese seized textiles owned by British merchants that were in bonded warehouses. The Japanese military needed a distributor to sell the textiles throughout northern China. Harry went with his father to the Jewish community hall near their home to try to raise the money for a down payment to the Japanese.
The incident demonstrates how closely Harry followed the business affairs of his father, even at this young age. It also shows how his father was keen to take calculated risks.
Harry was only vaguely aware of the actual charges against his father until he was shown a translation of Chinese court documents in the 300-page dossier. They show Moshe was alleged to have sold leather goods cheaply to the Japanese Army as well as selling scrap metal to the Japanese government.
Moshe was convicted on first instance and then appealed. The case was transferred to the High Court in Nanjing, then the capital of the Guomindang government.
*In October 1947, Triguboff was acquitted after the court found that the leather and scrap metal had been confiscated by force. The Japanese had made a nominal payment for the leather, but paid nothing for the scrap. It was not collaboration, the judges held. All charges were dismissed and Moshe Triguboff was released. The family started making plans to leave China.
But it left a stain, one that would later be exploited, Harry believes, by an English-Canadian adventurer of Jewish origin, known by the nickname Morris “Two Gun” Cohen. The consequences would torment the Triguboff family for the next two decades.
A Jewish gun slinger
Morris “Two Gun” Cohen was one of the more bizarre characters in the drama that consumed China in the middle of last century. His life has inspired three Hollywood movies, including one in 1936 called The General Died at Dawn, in which Cohen was turned into an Irishman and played by Gary Cooper.
More of the secret Triguboff family files including, left, one of many attempts of the boys trying, in 1952, to bring their parents to Australia. The visas were cancelled at the last minute.
As the name suggests, Two Gun Cohen was both Jewish and a gun slinger. After a life of petty crime in England then Canada, a 1997 biography says Two Gun headed to Guangdong in the 1920s, where he became the trusted bodyguard of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Guomindang Nationalist Party. After Sun Yat-sen died, Two Gun continued to use his connections to run guns to various warlords and conduct business, often with Jewish merchants in the treaty ports of China.
When Moshe Triguboff was arrested, associates in Shanghai recommended he seek Two Gun’s assistance. Harry remembers Two Gun coming to live with his family in their Tianjin home while his father was in jail. A thank-you letter from Harry’s brother, uncovered by Two Gun’s biographer, suggests Two Gun helped Moshe by convincing the authorities to transfer his case from Tianjin to Nanjing where it could get a fairer hearing.
But Two Gun fell out with the Triguboffs over money. The family could not pay the sizeable reward that he believed he’d been promised upon Moshe’s release.
By late 1947, the Communists were at the gates of Tianjin and Moshe found it it was impossible to sell his properties. His problems would become a childhood lesson for the young Harry in timing the real estate market. “He tried to sell what he could,” Harry says. “The reason he lost the big chunk [of his fortune] was because they made him problems straight after the war. He tried to get it out of China. Every door was all locked for several years when he was in prison. It killed him. He missed the boat.”
Harry says Two Gun was paid “something” but he was bitter. Eventually, Harry and his family would come to believe that Two Gun took vengeance by denouncing his father to diplomats based in China. These “vindictive allegations”, Harry and Joseph believed, were passed along to Australia and were the reason why his parents could not obtain visas to move to Sydney.
The truth is still hidden inside the National Archives. About 15 pages of the 300-page Triguboff file, in which Australian officials detail allegations against the family, have been redacted.
When asked to reconsider and open up the whole file, David Bell, the acting assistant director of the National Archives, refused on grounds that disclosing the material could threaten Australia’s access to intelligence from other countries and its release could cause distress to members of the family.
The first part of that explanation – that disclosure might threaten intelligence from other countries – supports Harry’s belief that Two Gun, who worked for British and Canadian intelligence during the war, was the source. The second part of the explanation is probably true.
*One letter that survived redaction is from Alexander (Alick) Downer, immigration minister in the early 1960s and father of the prominent Howard-era cabinet minister. In jarringly unofficial language, Downer wrote that the reports indicated Moshe Triguboff was an “unsavoury character”. It is the one line in the 300-page dossier that even today visibly distresses Harry because he finds it so unfair.
Harry and Joseph in Sydney.
Refused by Canada and the US
*The Triguboffs were refused visas for Canada and the United States, which had strict quotas on Jewish immigrants. But they had obtained landing permits for Australia back in 1946 when the country had an open-door policy to Jewish refugees.
*By early 1948, however, Australian policy had changed and a family of rich Jews carrying Soviet passports and facing allegations of collaborating with the Japanese were not the migrants Australia was looking for.
In postwar Australia, Jews were tarred with a mix of old-fashioned anti-Semitism and suspicion they were either communists or Zionists attacking British forces in Palestine. Things came to a crisis in January 1947 when an old ferry called the Hwa Lien docked in Sydney carrying 300 stateless Jews from Shanghai.
Sydney’s The Sun newspaper claimed that criminal syndicates run by communists had backed the Jewish immigrants and hinted that Jewish refugees had collaborated with the Japanese. The Sun editorialised: “The danger of infiltration by professional trouble makers, whether Jewish terrorists or Communist agents, will arouse the natural suspicion of all who wish to see Australia kept Australian.”
Arthur Calwell, Australia’s immigration minister following World War II, was a champion of mass migration (although famously within the confines of the White Australia Policy) and had initially been sympathetic to the plight of Jewish refugees. He let the Hwa Lien unload its passengers. But in the heated aftermath he quietly imposed a secret quota on the number of Jews who would be given entry on any future migrant ships.
This was the political background when, a year later in March 1948, the Australian consul in Shanghai, O.W.C. Fuhrman, sent an urgent cable in code back to Canberra: Harry and Joseph Triguboff had left Tianjin three weeks earlier, were on their way to Australia and must not be allowed to land. (Their parents had sent the boys to Sydney while they finalised their affairs, and planned to follow.)
*Fuhrman said he had learnt that Moses Triguboff was worth $US3-4 million and had transferred much of it to the United States. He was deeply concerned about the Triguboffs’ alleged ill-gotten riches and in the next few months got Australian officials to check how much money they had transferred to Australia. It was only 8000 Australian pounds.
Hostility to Jews
For the Australian Jewish community, Fuhrman would became a notorious character due to his hostility to Jews from China. He wrote a report around this time warning that the Jews of Shanghai, where the Japanese had set up a ghetto, were an “enigma” who were involved in prostitution and drug running. If Two Gun levelled accusations against Triguboff to Fuhrman, he would have got a very good hearing.
His urgent cable, in Harry’s mind, is evidence that Two Gun was the cause of his family’s problems. Who else would have taken the trouble, he asks, to warn the Australian consulate in Shanghai that a 14-year-old and a 23-year-old had just left Tianjin bound for Australia. “Who else would be interested?” asks Harry. In any case, the secretary of the Immigration Department in Canberra, Tasman Heyes, personally took charge of the matter. He dispatched a flurry of classified telegrams to Sydney, Darwin, Brisbane and Hong Kong to keep an eye out for the young men.
One-time bodyguard of Dr Sun Yat-Sen, Morris “Two Gun” Cohen.
“Please advise urgently whether they have landed your port. If not please advise all airlines that they should not be accepted as passengers and that if they come to Australia they may be restricted from landing,” the telegram said. But the wheels of bureaucracy moved too slowly. A few days later, word came back that Harry and his brother had already landed in Darwin and then been waved through customs in Sydney.
The presence of the two youths raised a problem familiar in today’s Australia of what to do with unauthorised arrivals. Heyes floated and rejected the idea of deporting them as impractical. He devised another idea: split up the family to convince the two brothers to leave.
“As the Chinese Authorities do not permit Europeans to return to China, it is most unlikely that it would be possible for us to enforce the departure of the two sons (Joseph and Oskar) Triguboff but if their parents are prevented from coming here they may eventually leave the Commonwealth,” Heyes wrote in July 1948.
Harry starts year 10
All of this was unknown at the time to Harry, who started year 10 at Scots College in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Joseph enrolled in the law faculty at the University of Sydney. Harry remembers feeling proud that when he arrived at Scots College the teachers put him up half a year because he was quick at maths.
Back in China, the situation for Moshe and Frida was growing ever more urgent. They had moved to Shanghai as the Communists got closer to Tianjin. From Shanghai they cabled Joseph to send some final documents that Australian consular officials in Shanghai demanded. On August 10, 1948, Joe walked into the office of the Department of Immigration in York Street, Sydney. It would be his first step into the bureaucratic labyrinth where his family was stuck for the next two decades.
*The immigration official told Joseph his parents could not come to Australia, but would not say why.
“Mr J. Triguboff was insistent that I should give him the reasons for the refusal of permission of his parents to enter Australia,” the official wrote in a one-page memo. “I did not acquaint him with the reasons for the withdrawal of authority for the admission of his parents.”
The Triguboffs were growing desperate. Moses had taken a Soviet passport, the only document he was entitled to as a Russian national, but he risked being repatriated to Stalin’s Soviet Union. The Chinese Communist victory was only months away.
Harry with his parents in Israel in the 1950s. (Photo)
Lobbying the minister
In late 1948 the Triguboffs tried to pull all the strings they could.
With support from a prominent member of the Jewish community, Joseph secured a meeting with Calwell in October and handed him a long memo which appended an English translation of the judgment of the Nanjing Court to prove that his father had been cleared of collaboration.
“The family is now broken up which may mean the separation of the two sons from their parents for life as the former cannot return to China. This would be a particularly tragic blow for the younger son, (Harry) Oscar, who is aged only 14 and is missing his parents greatly,” he wrote.
In December, Joseph wrote again: “As you are aware the position in China is steadily becoming more desperate day by day and this separation may result in my younger brother (who is just 15 years of age) and myself never seeing our parents again as the previous decision reached well-nigh condemns my parents to death. Please for the good of humanity be good enough to grant my parents the entry visa saving the whole family.”
Harry went to school and concentrated on his studies but he felt the uncertainty. “We were scared of [our parents] getting stuck there.”
Then in early 1949 the post office called to tell him there was a telegram waiting for him from a place he had never heard of, called Ramat Gan. He walked to the post office in Bondi Junction in Sydney’s east and asked the postal clerk where Ramat Gan could be. The postal clerk did not know either.
As he read the telegram, Harry realised that Ramat Gan was a suburb of Tel Aviv. Barred from Australia, and fearful of returning to Russia, the newly independent state of Israel was the only country to which they could turn. “That is the first time I knew that they got out,” Harry remembers. His parents were safe, but they were on the other side of the world.
Australia or Israel?
“Please … allow them to enjoy their grandchildren in Australia. Perhaps you are a grandfather yourself,” Triguboff wrote in a letter to immigration minister Alick Downer in 1963. (Photo: James Brickwood)
For the next 17 years, Harry and his brother faced an agonising choice of staying in Australia, where they felt at home, or moving to be with their parents. Harry finished Scots in 1950 and then decided to move closer to Moshe and Frida. He went to Leeds in England to study textile engineering, visiting his parents in Israel every summer. He joined his family in Israel in the 1950s for a few years but did not fit in. Neither did his brother, who had changed his surname from Triguboff to Travers to sound more Australian.
In 1959 the pair left Israel and after a brief stint in South Africa returned to Sydney. When told he could not obtain an Australian passport, Harry protested that he had lived in Australia and gone to Scots College. Immigration officials said if he obtained a letter from the headmaster they would give him a passport. “Thank god he was still there and he remembered me,” says Harry. He became an Australian citizen in 1961.
Joseph, a lawyer, wrote a flood of letters to every new minister or local MP in a bid to reunite the family. Adding to Harry and Joseph’s sense of frustration, Australia had reopened diplomatic relations with Japan and embraced many figures responsible for Japan’s wartime atrocities.
*The normalising of Australian-Japanese relations was a point used by Harry when he made his own attempts to obtain visas for his parents in 1963. If nothing else, the epic struggle had taught him the art of working the bureaucracy.
*“My poor brother was writingthese letters. It got him nowhere,” Harry says. “I thought enough’s enough. I told him I’ll do it my way.”Harry called the offices of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service in Melbourne and left a message in his Russian accent hinting that he had some information about some Soviet spy.
He says the ASIS agent who called him back “thought I wanted to dob someone in. So he met me, a nice big fellow. Lovely guy. I tell him, look I didn’t come for what you think. I have this problem with the father. He was a very nice guy. He said, ‘leave it to me, I’ll find out.'”
Lobbying a new minister
Harry wrote to then immigration minister Alick Downer describing his conversation with the ASIS agent with a supporting letter from Les Bury, the member for Wentworth. He claimed the agent had said “our relationship with Japan had undergone a drastic change and that whatever dealing my father had at the time of the war with Japan it was no longer of any vital importance to the security of Australia”.
Harry and his brother faced an agonising choice of staying in Australia, where they felt at home, or moving to be with their parents.
Harry then added: “For 16 years now, my brother and I have been pleading with the Immigration Department to allow our parents to settle here. Our parents were definitely cruelly treated by fate … Please allow us, their sons, to give them this small gift – to allow them to enjoy their grandchildren in Australia. Perhaps you are a grandfather yourself.”
*It was all to be of no use. The issue of collaboration with the Japanese was a difficult one for Downer, who had been a prisoner of war in Changi 18 years before. This was when Downer, in a letter marked confidential addressed to Bury, explained he would never let Triguboff in.
“The detailed reports indicate that Mr Moses is an ‘unsavoury character’,” he wrote. (Downer Junior told the AFR magazine that he believed his late father was acting ‘with a goodheart’).
*Harry’s mother died aged 58 on May 26, 1966. Two days later his brother wrote again to the new minister Hubert Opperman. “We are most apprehensive that [our father] is losing his will to live.” Harry, 32, flew over to meet his father, who was sitting unshaven as is traditional in the Jewish religion after a death in the family.
To this day Harry deeply regrets that during that trip he took too much time out to see some of his old friends from his years in Israel. It would be the last time he would see his father. “There are many things that I did in life which I was sorry for. I was sorry that I didn’t spend more time with him,” he says.
*Just six months later on February 20, 1967, The Sydney Morning Herald published a small notice that Moshe Triguboff had died, mourned by his two sons Harry and Joseph.
*Another six months after that, another notice appeared in the classified section of The Sydney Morning Herald. It was an advertisement for “Harry Triguboff and Co”, the company that would become Meriton. The ad read: “Cash for your flat site: Builder wants centrally located flat sites. All suburbs.” *
A secret til now
In four decades in the public eye Harry has barely spoken two sentences about this story. Every history of Australia’s second-richest man glides past this chapter of his life. But I always knew the bare bones. My father, also a Russian-speaking Jewish migrant, was close to Harry, especially in the early 1960s when my uncle and Harry were partners in a taxi licence. Harry, working his day job as a textile engineer, was living in a rented house with his first wife, Hanna, and two young children in Kensington in south-east Sydney. He would come to my uncle’s on the weekend to count the fares.
On a trip to Israel in about 1965 my parents met Moshe Triguboff shortly before his death and they later told me about his plight. While the story was known in this small circle I believe Harry was still deeply embarrassed about his past, because he was not sure how the allegations of collaboration might be received. I mentioned it to a Financial Review journalist who wrote a profile of Harry in 2005. Harry refused to talk about it and told the journalist to “clean out his ears”.
*After sending him the 300-page dossier and being rebuffed in 2011, I resolved to let Harry take his secret to his grave. Then in May this year I was surprised when, apparently unprovoked, Harry mentioned in an interview to another colleague that immigration officials had refused his father entry. “As far as they were concerned, he was co-operating with the Japanese in the war,” he said. “He was selling textiles. It wasn’t as if he was selling guns or something.” *
I asked him if it was finally time to tell his whole story. Five months later, when he agreed to fill in the gaps, I asked him whether he thought the Australian government had wronged his family. “Was that an injustice?” I asked.
Is there justice?
He says the treatment of his father was “100 per cent an injustice”. But then, in a sharp break from his usual rapid-fire delivery, he paused as he tried to find the words. “I suppose I don’t think there is justice. Worse, I am sceptical.” For Harry Triguboff, what is just depends on where someone is sitting.
Harry is his father’s son and is unapologetically proud of Moshe’s achievements and smarts.Even now, his closest friends in Sydney are Jews who fled from Tianjin, like him. He laughed telling me stories of how Moshe escaped from Tsarist Russia and his travels in China which clearly inspired him. He wants to defend his father’s memory.
One thing that still stings: he is reluctant to concede that he came to Australia with money. He insists repeatedly that the claims of his family’s millions were exaggerated. They had money, but not a lot.
In an odd transition he then launches into an attack on politicians and planners who obstruct his apartment blocks citing reasons of high policy. They apparently remind him of the sanctimonious Australian Immigration Department officials who fobbed his family off for decades. He says they take decisions based not on common sense but on what will win votes or just because they want to “cover” themselves.
*And so in an obscure transference, every time he fights and wins a battle over building apartments it is partly a way of getting even.
IS the detached house shrinking due to inflated prices due to foreign ‘hot money’ competition?
ANOTHER consequence being lot sizes can now be a third of the original quarter acre lot ‘downsized’ for the Greenfields Housing Code of 200M2 X 6M wide
-however some new project homesare very large occupying most of the land site to house the ‘Family Visa’ extended family
–Australians are now housing their families locked out of the housing market in the ‘family home’ of some 40, 50, 60 years
.is this a consequence of the Visa Worker invasion; lowest wages growth for 60 years; insecure contract work?
.the rise of multi-generations in the ‘family home’ means more wear and tear; a personal sacrifice with child minding
.a consequence of the Big End of Town manipulation to fill their coffers
-are the new ‘Permanent Residents,’ members of the CCP buying the ‘new homes’ including attached, and detached with granny flats to house their ‘Family Visa’extended families?
WILL quality builds be enforced in time? Imagine the cost of the LEVIES and the SINKING FUND for Super defective towers …
Goodbye detached family home – hello ‘super-apartments’: how Australians are embracing multi-generational apartment living
It has been widely reported this year that the average size of the Australian detached house is shrinking, which is a particularly interesting statistic when you consider the fact that multi-generational living is becoming far more popular in Australia.
This begs the question – if houses are shrinking, how can all of these cohabitating, multi-generational families still fit comfortably in their homes?
The $140 million price tag of the ‘One Sydney Harbour’ mega-penthouse – a bonafide ‘super-apartment’ – vastly eclipses last year’s $100 million sale of the Point Piper estate, proving that apartment living is becoming increasingly popular at all levels of the property market.
Families are starting to see the benefits of apartment living
CAAN: Is that because there is little else within a reasonable distance of the CBD workplace?
AD: and a number of new residential development projects have been designed precisely with this in mind. In addition to embracing the apartment lifestyle, living with extended family members is also becoming favoured around the country, so it makes sense that the two concepts are being combined – sparking the rise of multi-generation friendly ‘super-apartments’.
The many positives of multi-generational living, such as split costs, free child-care and having your family close by are quoted as some of the key factors as to why the practice is becoming more prevalent.
CAAN: With the new ‘Permanent Residents’ and a culture of ‘Prosperity’, isn’t it more about saving on child-care costs and house cleaning … so they can get on with developing their business?
Many forward-thinking developers predicted this growing preference amongst Australian families, since multi-generational living has already been embraced for many years in other cultures, particularly in closely neighbouring Asian countries.
CAAN: Would such developers be the Urban Taskforce and Property Council of Australia? … And their Ilk … that by building little else and particularly targeting the wealthy Chinese market (1.4 Billion of them) that they ensured a preference for apartments?
AD: Amenity-rich apartment living is often a great option for families looking to embrace a cohabitational, multi-generational style of living in Australia’s capital cities, and developers have begun to adapt their apartment development designs accordingly.
The Landmark in Sydney not only offers breathtaking vistas of Sydney Harbour, but also a plethora of resort-style amenities including a sauna, kids play area, piano room, virtual golf, cinema, library, lounge and dining room – making it ideal for family life. Oversized apartments provide a great opportunity for adult children to welcome living with their parents again, creating a perfect home for grandparents, parents and children to thrive in.
CAAN: Go figure the cost of the Levies! And the sinking fund …
Melbourne Square, situated in perfectly-connected Southbank, also boats a number of ‘super-apartments’ and amazing amenities ideal for family life, with many residents purchasing more than one property in order to create the perfect home for multiple family members. One purchaser at Melbourne Square bought six apartments on two floors, creating 3 large 3-bedroom family residences – one for him and his wife – another for his adult daughter and a third for his adult son’s family with two young children.
The Catalina in Surfers Paradise offers large 3 and 4 bedroom apartments and penthouses suitable for families looking for impeccable design and a hyper-convenient lifestyle. The development has created an affordable price point for families who may not have otherwise been able to afford the exclusive Chevron Island address, not to mention enviable resident amenities such as a pool, BBQ areas, a fully equipped gym and cinema.
By moving into these luxurious ‘mega-apartments’, many families gain access to facilities and amenities that they may not have had in their traditional, detached family home. The option to customise floorplans and combine multiple properties makes multi-generational living even more achievable and enjoyable.
Kevin Rudd was prime minister, iPads had not been released, and Tik Tok was a Kesha song dominating the charts, not a rapidly growing social network site.
Sydney was home to about 4.58 million people and its median house price was less than $650,000.
What a difference 10 years can make.
Fast forward through the decade — 15 interest rate cuts, five prime ministers, a property market boom and a bust later — and Sydney’s median is, once again, back on the rise.
The latest quarterly data from Domain showed the median house price is now at $1,079,491. That’s an increase of 68 per cent since 2009. While unit prices jumped about $237,400 over the decade to a median of $694,840, its increase was less acute, at only 40 per cent.
“The building boom focused on units rather than houses and that’s a big reason why unit price growth has been more subdued over the decade,” said Domain economist Trent Wiltshire.
Sydney is finishing the decade the way it started, with rising prices.
The city recorded double-digit annual house price growth for the four quarters to September 2010 and while prices dropped slightly the following year, it was not for long, with growth returning by September 2012.*
That was the beginning of sustained property price rises, which continued until the mid-2017 market peak when the median price reached about $1.2 million and the housing affordability crisis reached fever pitch.
Last quarter the market recorded a rapid turnaround, with the median house price regaining almost $50,000, close to one-third of the value lost over the downturn.
*Price movements aside, there were a number of key factors that drove the market over the decade, Mr Wiltshire said, including interest rates, population growth and levels of homebuilding.
“Interest rates fell, the population grew, but it took a while for construction to pick up, which it did from 2014 and 2015,” he said.
Stephen Koukoulas, managing director of Market Economics, agreed it was a roller coaster of a decade.
*“There were ups and downs,” he said. “But basically the drivers have been strong population growth … the lowering of interest rates.
*“With limited supply and growing demand …. it’s no surprise that on average the basic trend is a compound increase of 5 per cent on average,annually,” he said, but noted regulatory changes from APRA, slow wage growth and unemployment rates had also impacted the cycle.
*Sydney’s population grew by more than 650,000 people over the decade. And while more than 260,000 new homes were completed across Greater Sydney over the past 10 financial years, about two-thirds of those were apartments, planning department figures show.
Five council areas — Parramatta, Sydney, Blacktown, Bayside and Liverpool — accounted for 40 per cent of the new homes.
The decade’s strongest performers
While the city-wide median house price increased by 68 per cent, there were 10 suburbs across the city in which prices increased by more than 90 per cent.
Canley Vale, 30 kilometres south-west of the city, had the biggest increase with a 112 per cent jump to $805,000.
Prices more than doubled in Manly too, with the median jumping from $1.5 million to $3,003,000.
North Balgowlah, also on the northern beaches, and Bella Vista, Castle Hill, *Chatswood and Cherrybrook on the upper north shore, and Macquarie Fields and Smithfield in the south-west and west, rounded out the top 10.
Mr Wiltshire said the hallmarks of the postcodes with the strongest growth were new infrastructure, job growth and limited housing supply. A change in the types of homes sold, such as newer or larger properties, also impacted on the median price.
TOP SUBURBS FOR MEDIAN HOUSE PRICE GROWTH
Source: Domain Group.
Michael Clarke, principal of Clarke & Humel Property on the northern beaches, said the area, and Manly, in particular, had drawn more out-of-area buyers – particularly more downsizers from the upper north shore – over the decade.
“It’s gone from being a suburb the locals know and love … to being a place that’s not just known across Sydney, but internationally as well,” he said.
Mr Clarke said the fast ferry had been a game-changer, boosting demand from those who commuted to the city, with some buyers noting they could get to work more quickly from Manly than popular Bondi.
The suburb had also seen a boost in the quality of homes for sale, he added.
The value offered on the northern beaches at the start of the decade drew buyers priced out of inner-city locations, driving demand and price growth, said Thomas McGlynn, head of sales and chief auctioneer at The Agency.
*Good value was also a drawcard for top-performing upper north shore suburbs, Mr McGlynn said, but noted such areas also benefitted from solid demand from foreign investors during the boom. Price growth had also been driven by demand for good schools and new infrastructure, he added.
TOP SUBURBS FOR MEDIAN UNIT PRICE GROWTH
Source: Domain Group.
Not all of Sydney grew at an astronomical rate
By comparison, prices were more subdued in the city’s south, with suburbs like Cronulla, Sylvania and Gymea recording increases below 50 per cent. Affluent suburbs like Vaucluse, Woollahra and Paddington also increased by less than 50 per cent over the decade.
Mr McGlynn said it was important to note that outer suburbs could be late to join a price boom, but quick to exit.
He said it was unsurprising that higher-priced suburbs saw smaller percentage jumps, as they were coming off a higher median-price base and would have a smaller turnover.
In dollar terms though, Sydney’s affluent areas recorded the most jaw-dropping rises.
House prices rose by $1 million or more across 25 suburbs, with Bellevue Hill recording the biggest increase – jumping almost $1.9 million to $5,125,000. It was followed by Manly, Vaucluse and Mosman.
Suburbs in the inner city, eastern suburbs and west had the biggest unit price increase, with Penrith and Darling Point medians increasing 99 per cent.
Lidcombe, the CBD and Newtown were also among the top five suburbs. Prices jumped more than $500,000 in six suburbs, with the biggest increase in Darling Point – where the median increased by $938,000.
*As for what 2020 holds, Stephen Koukoulas said he expected prices would continue their upward trajectory,despite slow wages growth.*
“There’s plenty of momentum there,” he said, noting the sharp decline in building approvals may even result in a shortage of properties this time next year.
“You’ve got all systems suggesting double-digit growth next year,” he added. “We’ll regain peak levels pretty soon … by March or April the market could hit fresh highs for prices and probably keep going.”