London may be the world’s elite property investment location with New York an extremely close second, but Sydney could easily count itself among locations with the globe’s most in demand real estate as well. Currently in the middle of something of a mini-boom, Australia’s capital in all things except the political has a great deal to offer these days at, arguably, better value.
Demand for Sydney property is on the rise, particularly from Asia, for a host of reasons. The region has created a growing number of international investors who are just as familiar with Australia as they are with traditional hotspots like the UK, Canada and the United States and often with just as many business links — without the jetlag: Sydney is only two hours ahead of Hong Kong. Add to that a (now) cheaper dollar, low interest rates and record low vacancy levels and the result is a market ripe for investment. Another key factor? Education. Student arrivals are on the rise and it has been predicted there will be 520,000 foreign students in the country by 2020 representing an economy of AU$19.1 billion.
“There’s growing interest from local and foreign buyers [and] the fundamentals involve the GFC. They’ve resorted to brick and mortar investments,” states Iwan Sunito, CEO of Crown Group, which is active in the Sydney market right now. “Price growth has been healthy, they’re up around 10 percent across the board, and Sydney is the best performing capital in Australia, growing at around 14.5 percent. Investors are also seeing supply shortages, Sydney in particular. There’s a 50,000 [unit] shortage versus demand, and people see stability in that.”
The local government’s decision to reinvest in Sydney is helping with its real estate values too. Sunito points to AU$60 billion in new infrastructure spending, including rebuilding the convention centre and a state of the art office tower and the development of the massive Barangaroo waterfront site, which will include the city’s second casino, as part of what’s driving the market. And though the it is still dominated by local buyers, “Foreign buyers help with increasing the supply of badly needed homes in Sydney. It has a positive impact on the city,” notes Sunito. It also helps that, “A lot of our buyers are shying away from Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai because of the taxes on foreign buyers,” he finishes.
Though Crown has several projects in the pipeline, the stars of the moment are Skye by Crown in booming North Sydney, and Viva by Crown in the Top Ryde City Living development not too far from the CBD. The 20-storey Skye, designed by Koichi Takada, will comprise 232 apartments and also feature conference facilities, a top-floor gym and infinity-edge rooftop pool in a prestigious location near some of Sydney’s best schools and shopping. Many of the luxury studio to three-bedroom units will have stellar views and the property is located in an increasingly elite district. Businesses and retailers are moving into the area in greater numbers, and the growth in infrastructure and transport links has underpinned the area’s steady employment growth.
Sunito sees the early success of Skye as result of Australia’s shifting living patterns. More and more urban residents are seeking that luxury, five-star resort lifestyle. “It’s no longer about a block of land and a house. People are looking convenience of transport, access to shopping and places of culture,” says Sunito. Much the same can be said of Viva by Crown, which is also blessed with familiarity for Asian buyers as a mixed-use development, an oddity in Australia. Part of the sprawling Top Ryde project, Sunito points out Viva will have, “The most complete facilities we’ve ever built because of the size of the land.” Viva’s 166 one- and two-bedroom flats will span two towers and residents will be able to access Top Ryde’s facilities, including a pool, indoor and outdoor function space, music room, library and theatres. Also designed by Takada, Viva will be defined by its open-plan layouts, seamless transitions from inside to out and maximisation of natural light and ventilation. It helps that many of the units offer views of either the Blue Mountains, Chatswood or the Sydney Harbour Bridge among others.
The two properties may have unique tones independent of each other, but they share a status as strong alternative investments. Sydney prices are still attractive — as much as half of similar properties in London or New York — and growth is steady. Above all, they share an aesthetic Sunito likes to describe as, “They both have that thing that makes Crown ‘Crown.’ When you buy in to Crown you’re buying an experience of space.”
Prices at Skye by Crown begin at approximately AU$595,000 (HK$4.2 million), and at AU$535,000 (HK$3.7 million) at Viva.