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Grand old Coromandel

Coromandel Darling Point: Sublime Elegance Then And Now

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Grand old Coromandel, overlooking Double Bay from its perch on Sutherland Crescent, has been a feature of the Darling Point harbourfront for almost a century.

The story of Darling Point’s Coromandel

Grand old Coromandel porch

Coromandel was built in the 1920s to a design by local architect H. C. Christian. Christian was a prolific Sydney architect, building homes from Double Bay to Darlinghurst to Balmoral. His design for Coromandel was inspired by the Spanish Mission Revival architecture so popular in America at the time, incorporating elements like ‘barley twist’ columns, a red-tiled roof, and rounded arches. The building’s symmetrical façade, however, doesn’t conform with the style’s preference for an asymmetrical frontage.

How was Coromandel perceived in the 1920s?

In July 1929, Coromandel was the cover star of a publication called ‘Building: the magazine for the architect, builder, property owner and merchant’. The magazine included an extensive critique of the then-new block of flats, commenting on its façade and entrance hall as well the interior of H. C. Christian’s own apartment.

It makes for a fascinating read, providing an insight into the social and architectural mores of the time. ‘The entrance to important blocks of flats must of necessity be treated to convey the right amount of dignity and architectural beauty to meet the demands of tenants of artistic taste and high social standing,’ it says. Happily, it gives Coromandel’s striking foyer the tick of approval. Its generous dimensions, warm buff colour scheme, old tapestry panels on the walls and the orange and blue Spanish rugs all garner praise.

The writer is, however, unimpressed with Coromandel’s garages. Of course, in the 1920s, cars were not the ubiquitous items they are today. The writer laments that ‘it is unfortunate that garages have to be provided on small plots for even though the motor car is said to be the principal thought and consideration of modern life, there seems little excuse to give it architectural precedence in our design.’ He goes on to say that although the garages are in harmony with the rest of the building, it would look ‘infinitely better’ without them. Ironically, the garages are amongst the building’s amenities most favoured by residents today.

In contrast, Coromandel’s balconies are described as a ‘remarkably alluring feature’. They are praised as ‘sheltered and artistic’ outdoor sunrooms, the perfect place from which to take in the harbour views and ‘entertain one’s best friends at any time of the day or in the evening.’

The magazine also includes glimpses of the interior of the architect’s own flat. H. C. Christian’s dining room is panelled to three-quarter height with dark timber and lauded by the writer for alleviating any potential gloominess with windows on two sides and a light-coloured ceiling, frieze, and carpet. A Spanish-style fireplace is the central decorative feature and, together with the presence of a window seat, suggests that the dining room also functioned as a living space, which was a modern notion at the time. The light fittings throughout the building receive special mention for ‘being in silver or Florentine metal and rather costly.’

Assuming that Coromandel residents would have hired help, the writer charitably describes the kitchen as being ‘as bright an interior as can be provided for a person engaged in a more or less monotonous and drab house-keeping existence.’ He goes on to suggest that the built-in cabinetry could be improved by doors that open in one direction only ‘to allow the maid washing up to place things straight in rather than reach round the open doors.’ How thoughtful!

Society darling

Grand old Coromandel foyer

In the 1930s, Coromandel became a sought-after place to live amongst Sydney’s affluent residents. It was frequently mentioned in the newspapers’ social pages as the site of exclusive parties and charity functions, like the principal cocktail party of Race Week in 1931, which Mrs E. Brooks threw in her Coromandel flat, or the tennis tournament arranged at Coromandel in April 1939 by Miss Joyce Jolley to raise funds for the Deaf Dumb and Blind Institution for Children (now known as the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children).

Around the same period, and maybe thanks to its notoriety as a residence of the well-to-do, Coromandel was something of a target for thieves. In July 1931, resident Mrs Lucy White had an unusual brooch featuring a diamond set in a large pearl stolen, as well as other jewellery and money. It was her second such loss in two years. A few months earlier, thieves had arrived at Coromandel in a lorry and stolen a carpet square from the porch of Mr Forbes Mackay, the general manager of the City Electricity Department. On a second occasion, valuable tapestries were stolen.

‘Rental rebellion in luxury flats’

So proclaimed the headline of an article in The Daily Telegraph in March 1947. The story that followed told of how tenants living in Coromandel were protesting a 40 per cent rent increase. According to the article, the building was owned by Eagle Star Insurance Company (which was absorbed by Zurich Insurance in 1998). Eagle Star had bought Coromandel in 1945 for £26,000 (around $2 million in today’s money). Two months before that sale, the building’s tenants had successfully had their rents reduced to pre-war levels. But by 1947, Eagle Star claimed that increased maintenance costs and improvements warranted increases of two or three pounds ($143 and $215 in today’s money) per week. Although the Fair Rents Controller had approved the increases, tenants were protesting to the company and appealing to the Fair Rents Court.

Coromandel today

Grand old Coromandel side view

Today, just as in the 1920s and 1930s, apartments in Coromandel are still in demand from Sydney’s most discerning residents. The security block of 12 apartments enjoys an exclusive harbourfront position looking northeast across picturesque Double Bay. Residents can soak up the view and directly access the harbour from the expansive waterfront communal gardens. The building itself remains as prestigious and grand as it was in the 1920s, complete with immaculately preserved heritage features, including H. C. Christian’s striking entrance foyer. The apartments themselves are also impressively elegant, with many of them boasting generous proportions, large balconies and gorgeous views of the harbour. With only two apartments per floor, residents enjoy perfect privacy too.

Unit 6/17 Sutherland Avenue is currently on the market. A four-bedroom penthouse apartment with a car space, two bathrooms and a stunning entertaining terrace with North-West aspect, these opportunities in such tightly held buildings like Coromandel don’t come up often. Find out more about it here.

Thinking of buying or selling in Darling Point? Get in touch today.

Market Report: Darling Point

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Sydney-wide data shows that our city’s property market has been slowing in early 2022.

But that’s not necessarily what we’re seeing here in Darling Point.

In fact, our suburb seems to have bucked many of the major trends affecting the Sydney property market in 2022. We explore how and why.

A snapshot of the Sydney property market in April 2022

In the 12 months to March 2022, the median Sydney property price lifted an incredible 25.5%, according to CoreLogic data. This compares to average annual growth of 7.8

Since then, however, the Sydney median price has remained relatively flat – rising just 0.3% in the first quarter of this year and actually falling -0.3% over February and March. This is the first time the Sydney market has seen a decline in 18 months – or the early days of the pandemic.

While a decline may seem like disappointing news, it shouldn’t be when you put it into perspective. -0.3% over two months is negligible and is unlikely to affect the value of most homes in any tangible way. Instead, it needs to be remembered that the Sydney property market is still 17.7% higher than it was this time last year.

Even those people who bought relatively recently will have made a substantial gain in the value of their homes.

The factors at play right now

A flatter Sydney market is the result of several factors. On the demand side, tougher lending criteria and talk of rising interest rates – especially for fixed-term loans – have impacted how much a lot of people have available to spend on a property. We’ve also noticed some people taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, based on the upcoming federal election and global uncertainty.

On the supply side, many more priorities have come to market this year across Sydney, giving buyers more choice. Over the pandemic, low stock levels helped create a sense of urgency for many buyers, helping to drive prices up. SQM now reports that property listings are back to their pre-pandemic levels.

Why the Darling Point property market is different

Here in Darling Point, the latest data from paints a different story to the one taking place across Sydney more broadly. At the end of February 2022, the median unit price in Darling Point was $2.475 million. That’s up from $1.74 million a year previously – or a rise of 42.2% over 12 months.

Interestingly, our local market also rose markedly over the first couple of months of the year – with the median value lifting 10.7% – even as Sydney-wide prices remained flat.

What makes this performance even more impressive is that, as a whole, house prices (and Darling Point has few houses, compared to many units) have been well-and-truly outperforming apartment prices over the past couple of years. In fact, across Sydney, unit values grew at almost half the rate of houses over 2022 – 14.3% to 24.8% – according to CoreLogic, making the gap between them as vast as it has ever been,

This trend simply wasn’t reflected in Darling Point’s numbers.

Different factors at play in Darling Point

The reality is that the Sydney market can’t be seen as a whole. While there are macro trends that impact the whole market – such as economic confidence – others factors affect different areas differently.

A major demographic in our area is downsizers – many of whom are cash buyers and have recently sold their family homes for substantially more than they may have expected a year ago. Affordability and interest rate rises don’t affect these buyers in the same way.

Professionals are also overrepresented in our area (Census data reveals 43% of employed locals identified as ‘professionals’ and another 35.6% as ‘managerial’). Many have been experiencing strong business conditions over the past couple of years and are willing to spend to secure the right home.

So quality properties in a premium setting like Darling Point are still attracting considerable interest.

Thinking of buying or selling in Darling Point? Get in touch today.

The Fascinating Tale Of Hopewood House

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Before Hopewood Gardens, there was Hopewood House, built by retail royalty the Hordern family and home to hundreds during its time.

Lebbeus Hordern

Hopewood House was built for Lebbeus Hordern, a member of the famous Hordern retail dynasty and one of the aviators behind Sydney’s first-ever seaplane flight.

Hordern was born in 1891 at Retford Hall, Darling Point, the stately mansion built by his grandfather in 1865. He was the great-grandson of Anthony Hordern, founder of what was, at the time, Sydney’s largest retail company. When his father died, Lebbeus and his two brothers inherited the bulk of his fortune. Lebbeus was just eighteen years old.

In 1912, at the age of 21, he married his first wife, Olga Clare Monie. The union produced one son, Lebbeus Hordern Junior.

Lebbeus was something of a Gatsby-esque character, and his inheritance allowed him to indulge his passion for fast cars and flight. On a visit to England in 1913, he bought a Farman hydro-aeroplane. On May 8, 1914, that plane, piloted by French pilot Maurice Guillaux, took off from the waters of Double Bay in what was Sydney’s first seaplane flight.

Lebbeus served in the First World War with the Royal Field Artillery and was sent home to Australia in 1917 after being gassed in France.

Building Hopewood House

Lebbeus commissioned the architectural firm Morrow & De Putron (later to become Morrow & Gordon) to build Hopewood House around 1924.

By that time, he was already the owner of a weekend home, also called Hopewood House, in Bowral. Legend has it Lebbeus would land on the 700-acre grounds in his private plane and throw extravagant parties in the impressive gardens he had established there (which remain to this day).

The new Hopewood House in Darling Point was, at the time, one of the largest private homes ever built in Sydney. Featuring wide verandahs and containing 40 rooms, including a ballroom and a library, it stood on 2.5 acres next door to Retford Hall, which was still owned by Lebbeus’ brother. The house was built in the Art Nouveau style and enjoyed harbour views from three sides, while the extensive grounds featured tennis courts, summer houses and ‘secluded walks which suggest a home buried deep in the countryside rather than in a metropolitan area’.

A finishing school for girls

Not long after Hopewood House was completed, Lebbeus divorced his first wife and married Francis May Barry in Adelaide in 1926. He was at home at Hopewood House when he died suddenly at the age of 37 in 1928. He regularly took sedatives to combat his insomnia, and it was an overdose of these drugs that led to his death.

Both his Darling Point and Bowral homes were sold in 1930, and the Darling Point Hopewood House was purchased by Miss N. Jobson. She furnished the home with ‘restraint and tasteful comfort’ and opened an exclusive finishing school for girls. It accommodated both boarders and day students, providing tuition for school leavers in ‘general culture and special aptitudes and talents, such as piano, cello, singing, languages, art, literature, dancing, fencing and domestic science and cooking.

Housing servicemen and women during WWII

Hopewood House took on a different role during the Second World War. The Sydney Naval Depot at Rushcutters Bay became a recruitment and training centre for personnel from both the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Women’s Royal Australian Navy (WRAN) during the war. The RAN and WRAN personnel were given accommodation in homes around Darling Point, including Hopewood House, Stratford Hall, Ranelagh and The Octagon. Following the war, Hopewood House became a private hospital for several years.

Rosary Villa

In 1949 Hopewood House changed hands again, this time selling for 46,000 pounds to the Sisters of St Joseph of California, a Roman Catholic order of nuns who had arrived in Australia in 1946. By the end of 1950, Hopewood House was operating as a non-denominational girls’ hostel called Rosary Villa, providing accommodation for between 80 and 100 students and young women with jobs. It had taken four American nuns ten months to convert the high-ceilinged rooms into pale blue and white dormitories. The hostel included special facilities for study, radios in the rooms, beautifully furnished lounges, a well-equipped library and ‘many wide verandahs and terraces for sun baking’.

From Hopewood House to Hopewood Gardens

In the years following World War II, Sydney suffered a serious shortage of residential accommodation, and in the late 1950s, Woollahra Municipal Council began to approve the subdivision plans of developers in Darling Point. In 1959 approval was given for the subdivision of the Retford Hall estate and the conversion of the house into apartments. Hopewood House soon followed, replaced in 1966 with the multi-storey apartment building Hopewood Gardens.

Today, Hopewood Gardens on Thornton Street is one of Darling Point’s most coveted addresses, with homes set inside the sought-after gated enclave enjoying some of Sydney’s most exclusive harbour views. A connection to the old Hopewood House remains in the form of the original brick, stone and ironwork fence and gates, which are still in situ.

Thinking of buying or selling in Darling Point? Get in touch today.

Where Do Darling Point’s Property Values Stand In 2022?

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After a record-breaking year for real estate in 2021, a comprehensive report has named the top-performing suburbs across the country.

And, Darling Point was among the best.

2021: A year of real estate records

Respected property information, analytics and services provider CoreLogic have compiled their annual Best of the Best report for 2021, a thorough overview of Australia’s best-performing residential property markets.

According to the report, last year saw real estate values across Australia record their largest rise since 1989, lifting by an incredible 22.2%. That puts the estimated value of the nation’s residential property at a new all-time high of $9.4 trillion. Amidst this boom, both Sydney and New South Wales property reached record high values, and, in good news for Darling Point property owners and vendors, results in our suburb were amongst the city’s – and the nation’s – strongest.

How did Darling Point compare?

Darling Point appears four times in the Best of the Best report, garnering two national rankings and two rankings in the Greater Sydney lists. Units and apartments in our suburb have risen in value more than most over the last year, and the median value of units in Darling Point is now one of the highest in the country.

In the top ten capital city suburbs with the highest median unit values in Australia, Darling Point comes in at number three. Our suburb’s median unit value of $2,405,957, calculated from 104 sales over the 12 months to 30 November, puts it behind only Point Piper and Barangaroo for the most expensive units in the nation. Darling Point also ranks third in the top ten Greater Sydney suburbs with the highest median unit values.

When it comes to Greater Sydney suburbs with the highest change in unit values in 2021, Darling Point comes in second with a truly exceptional annual rise of 35.5%. That impressive figure puts our neighbourhood at number five on the national list of suburbs that experienced high unit median price growth last year. To put that remarkable price increase into context, national unit values rose by a much more modest 14.2% over the same period. The only Sydney suburb to experience a greater median unit value increase last year was Point Piper, with a lift of 38.0%.

Why did Darling Point real estate perform so well?

There are several reasons why units and apartments in our suburb, which make up around 87% of the homes here, performed so strongly last year.

One of them was our coveted harbourside lifestyle. As lockdowns limited our movements and more of us than ever switched to working from home, buyers sought proximity to fresh air and the beautiful outdoors. In metro markets across the nation, prices for “lifestyle” homes by the water experienced significant growth.

Another factor was the strong performance seen in high-end markets across the country. As the CoreLogic report explains, during an upswing phase in the housing market cycle, like that we experienced in 2021, prestige markets, such as Darling Point, in cities like Sydney and Melbourne tend to see higher growth rates than other market sectors.

The type of buyers active in the market last year also played a part in Darling Point’s strong results. While the average proportion of owner-occupiers in the market over the last decade was 65%, according to ABS housing finance data, last year owner-occupiers made up 72.6% of all property finance secured. Around 62% of Darling Point homes are occupied by owners rather than tenants, which aligns with the type of buyers who were most prevalent in the market last year. We saw a lot of demand from upsizers, and downsizers, both looking for larger properties.

What can we expect in 2022 for Darling Point?

After such a heated year in 2021, many of the major banks are predicting softer, more sustainable growth across the Australian property market this year. This ought to result in a more balanced, even market where buyers will enjoy more choice and vendors (who are usually buying another property too) won’t feel pressured or rushed into decisions.

We predict growth in our suburb will continue into 2022. There is an ongoing local shortage of quality housing stock, and buyers who missed out in last year’s frenzy are still looking to secure a Darling Point home. As our international borders open up and immigration and visitors return, foreign real estate acquisitions are forecast to rise once again.

Are you looking to buy or sell a home in Darling Point this year? Please always feel welcome to contact me.

The Arts And Crafts Movement In Darling Point: Simply Elegant Architecture

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Stroll the streets of Darling Point and you’ll see some wonderful architectural examples in the Arts and Crafts style, a movement which began as a reaction against the Industrial Revolution.

Arts and Crafts: a reactionary style

In the 18th and19th centuries the Industrial Revolution ushered in the age of manufactured goods. And while the rise of factories brought consumer goods to the masses, this availability came at a cost: a decline in handcrafted items and a loss of craftsmanship.

By the 1860s, some of England’s craftspeople could bear this loss no more. Their answer was the birth of the Arts and Crafts movement.

A direct response to mass production, the movement favoured handmade goods and superior workmanship. Notable among the movement was William Morris, the English poet, socialist and designer, and founder of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. The interior decorations company aimed to capture the spirit and quality of work inherent in mediaeval skills and techniques. In fact, so committed to this approach was Morris that he refused to visit the famous 1851 Great Exhibition in London because of its championing of all things manufactured. He was aged just 16 at the time.

Arts and Crafts in Sydney

While the movement was in decline in England by the end of the 19th century, it had begun to take off elsewhere.

In Sydney, architects such as George Sydney Jones, Walter Liberty Vernon and John Horbury Hunt incorporated Arts and Crafts principles into their designs.

Architecturally, the Arts and Crafts movement rejected the small, stuffy rooms of earlier decades in favour of larger, more free-flowing interiors. It championed natural materials and, above all, expert craftsmanship.

The beginnings of these principles can be seen in two key Horbury Hunt designs: Fairwater in Point Piper, and Cloncorrick in Darling Point. Other notable Sydney homes of the style include St Kevin’s in Woollahra, the Hastings at Neutral Bay, and Darenth, in Strathfield.

Darling Point examples

The Arts and Crafts movement reached its peak in Sydney in the years between World Wars I and II, and Darling Point’s Babworth House is one the finest examples of this era.

But stroll along Darling Point Road and you’ll see a trio of homes where the simple elegance of the Arts and Crafts style can be viewed from the footpath.

The face brickwork of the houses at 42, 44–46 and 48 Darling Point Road singles them out as Arts and Crafts-influenced designs. The movement encouraged the use of “honest” materials like brick and wood and was opposed to more modern trends such as cement rendering.

At 42 Darling Point Rd, Osterley is a notable example of the inter-war Arts and Crafts style. Along with its brickwork, the home’s gabled roofs, timber eaves and tall tapered chimneys further point to its architectural heritage, features shared with its two neighbours. Other unique elements include an oval window above the home’s entrance and a pressed metal-roofed bay window to the right of the entrance.

Although Osterley’s original designer is unknown, in 1925 the home was converted into two apartments by prolific architect Claud Hamilton. Hamilton’s work is prominent in the eastern suburbs, with other examples being the Savoy in Darlinghurst and Byron Hall and Kaloola in Potts Point.

Arts and Crafts: Property for sale in 2022

Osterley at 42 Darling Point Road is currently for sale and offers a unique opportunity to own a piece of Sydney’s Arts and Crafts history. Consisting of two apartments, the property is to be sold as one and presents the perfect canvas for a spacious family home. The upstairs apartment boasts four bedrooms and Harbour Bridge views, while downstairs consists of three bedrooms. It represents a rare opportunity to secure a large house, with unlimited potential in Darling Point.

To arrange an inspection, call me today.

Greenoaks Apartments: Church-built To Save A Great Historic Home

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It was the rising upkeep of an Archbishop’s residence that led to the development of the exclusive Greenoaks Apartments.

Completed in 2007, the 10 high-end apartments that comprise Greenoaks Apartments at 17 Greenoaks Avenue are a relatively recent addition to the Darling Point skyline.

Once part of the iconic Bishopscourt property, this apartment complex has a rich history reaching back more than 180 years and touching the highest echelons of Sydney business and the Church.

A property of unprecedented grandeur

Photo from Wikimedia

The Bishopscourt history begins in 1841 when ironmonger and local councillor Thomas Woolley built a modest sandstone cottage on the site.

AMP Society founder Thomas Sutcliffe Mort bought the property five years later and transformed it into a gothic revival mansion, which he named Greenoaks.

The lavish redevelopment came complete with stained-glass windows, a grand staircase and interiors modelled on the Palace of Westminster.

At one point, Mort even added an art gallery for which he charged a small public admission believing people placed ‘no value upon that which they can see for nothing’.

A keen horticulturist, Mort also transformed the grounds. The property’s gardens, said to be the finest in Sydney, were sketched in 1947 by artist Conrad Martens and visited especially by the Duke of Edinburgh on a trip to Sydney in 1853.

A home fit for an Archbishop

Greenoaks remained in the Mort family until 1892, before its sale to grazier Michael Langtree.

When Langtree tried to sell the estate in 1910, it failed to reach its reserve and Langtree opted instead to subdivide the land.

The major subdivision allowed for the construction of Greenoaks Avenue as one of Darling Point’s signature thoroughfares, while the Greenoaks residence was sold to the Anglican Church for £6,750.

Renamed Bishopscourt, it was home to eight archbishops from 1910 until the property’s sale in 2015.

Church develops Greenoaks Apartments

Over time, however, it became too costly for the Church to maintain a property of Bishopcourt’s size and heritage.

At one point, it was estimated it would cost up to $10 million to make the necessary renovations, while the maintenance bill alone had reached more than $360,000 a year.

While the Church considered selling Bishopsgate on several occasions as far back as 1963, losses sustained in the global financial crisis eventually forced its hand in 2015.

In the meantime, perhaps taking a leaf out of Michael Langtree’s book, the Church subdivided the property again and developed 10 penthouse-style apartments directly south of the mansion.

Synod records show the Church’s financial management arm, the Glebe Administration Board, managed the development and provided a $17 million loan to construct the Greenoaks Apartments.

Apartment sales were used to repay the loan, as well as supporting the ongoing repair and maintenance of Bishopscourt.

Own a slice of history

The listing of 9/17 Greenoaks Avenue offers an opportunity to secure an exclusive lifestyle sanctuary and a unique slice of Sydney’s history. With panoramic views, this three-bedroom penthouse apartment also boasts three bathrooms, life access and double parking.

As we noted in our recent market report, there is huge demand for larger three-bedroom or penthouse apartments, particularly among downsizers cashing in on the property boom and looking for space and the wow factor.

And locations don’t come much more blue-chip than Darling Point, with the third-highest median apartment value in the country of $2.4 million, behind only Point Piper and Barangaroo.

And right next door is one of Sydney’s great historic homes, which the apartments were built to preserve.

Call me if you would like to know more about this remarkable property.

Photo credit: Bishopscourt, Darling Point, Wikipedia

Market Report: Darling Point, December 2021

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2021 has been an incredible year for the Sydney property market and the Darling Point real estate market has been one of the city’s standout performers.

2021: a year of strong growth

In the year to 30 November, the median Sydney dwelling price lifted an eye-watering 24.9%, according to CoreLogic. That means a Sydney property worth $3 million at the start of the year should theoretically now be worth almost $3,750,000.

Even through lockdown, when physical auctions were banned and open homes were off-limits, property prices continued rising. Buyers were confident in the fundamentals of the property market and this combined with low stock levels. These factors combined to send prices 5.7% higher over the September quarter, even though the city was in lockdown for almost the entire period.

When restrictions were lifted in October, we saw more properties hit the market, giving buyers greater choice. But the price growth continued, with another 2.4% rise added over October and November.

In fact, Sydney’s median house price has risen every single month this year.

A tale of two markets? Not in Darling Point

One factor that has been much talked about in Sydney property’s stellar year has been the widening gap between house prices and apartment prices. While house prices lifted 30.4% since the start of the year, apartment prices lifted “only” 15.2%.

But this hasn’t been our experience here in Darling Point.

CoreLogic data reveals that the median Darling Point apartment price actually rose 35.5% over the past 12 months – the fifth-highest growth rate of any apartment market in the country.

So, far from lagging, apartment values here have outperformed even the impressive rise in the Sydney median dwelling price.

What’s behind Darling Point’s standout performance?

Perhaps the main reason that our area has performed so well is simply its status as a premium, blue-chip area. Darling Point has the third-highest median apartment value of any suburb in the country at $2,405,976. Only Point Piper and Barangaroo boast a higher median value – although both suburbs saw far fewer sales than Darling Point and were bolstered by a few ultra-prestige sales, including three apartments in 1A Barangaroo that sold for more than $40 million.

CoreLogic notes that during the upswing phase of the housing cycle, the prestige market tends to see higher growth rates than other sectors. We also note that the underperforming market sectors tended to be dominated by investors, who stayed away due to higher vacancy rates.

Unlike most apartment-focused suburbs, Darling Point skews heavily towards owner-occupiers, with only around one-third rented, compared to two-thirds in nearby Potts Point.

Who was buying in 2021?

In line with this, we noticed some buyer groups were particularly active in the Darling Point this year. The most notable was downsizers, many of whom had recently benefited from selling their family home in a strong market. These buyers were generally looking for quality properties that gave them room to move, as well as some level of ‘wow’ factor. Where better to find that than right here?

A second group we noticed was young professionals, including young professional families. Many of these were already local buyers. Having children was once a reason to move further away from the city centre, but today we find buyers are more likely to want to stay close to the area they know and love. This means we saw a lot of these buyers looking to upgrade from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom apartment.

As a result of the strong demand from downsizers and upgraders, three-bedroom apartments far exceeded even our impressive median – so much so that the median three-bedder now sells for $4.4 million, according to Domain (up from $2.9 million in 2019). Meanwhile, the median two-bedder sells for $1.7 million.

What to expect for 2022

Despite media reports of a slowing property market, we expect growth to continue well into next year. After all, there are still many buyers in the market and there is not enough quality stock to satisfy them.

That said, we believe growth will be more sustainable next year and that we won’t see the runaway market of 2021. This should make 2022 a good time to buy and sell because buyers themselves usually have to also secure somewhere to move into. When they do, hopefully, it will be in a fairer market where they have greater choice and don’t have to make a rushed decision on their next step.

Want more?

That’s it from us in 2021. We hope you have a wonderful and relaxing break and look forward to seeing you again in 2022!

If you’d like to know more about our local property market, or if you need help buying or selling a home, get in touch.

Creating Larger Homes In Darling Point With Apartment Amalgamation

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Astute apartment owners in Darling Point are creating larger homes by amalgamating two (or even three) adjoining apartments into one oversized residence.

For an established area like ours, it’s a clever way of gaining more living space without compromising on the coveted Darling Point lifestyle.

Turning two (or three) apartments into one

There’s a sense that if you want to live in Darling Point and enjoy its priceless location and cosmopolitan lifestyle, you’ll have to compromise on space. While there are larger, 3 bedroom and penthouse apartments available, a growing number of Darling Point residents are turning the idea of smaller units upside down with apartment amalgamation. Owners are acquiring two, or sometimes three, adjoining apartments and then combining them into one large residence to create a home with the kind of space you’d only expect to find in a house in the suburbs.

In an area like Darling Point, where the residential buildings are well established and already at their maximum heights, apartment amalgamation is one way forward. It gives blocks with smaller units a new lease on life, and in prestige buildings, it leads to the creation of large and luxurious world-class apartments.

With many buyers, particularly downsizers, looking for larger apartments, these combined residences often sell for a premium. Buyers who once might have been turned off apartment living due to concerns about space are now seeking out amalgamated apartments or those with the potential to do so. Of course, we’re also seeing apartments sell to neighbours as owners seek to expand their property’s floor space.

What’s the process?

Once an owner has acquired two adjoining Darling Point apartments – either next door or one above the other – the amalgamation needs to be approved by Woollahra Council and the building’s owners’ corporation. After consent has been granted, the process can be as simple as installing a door between the two apartments or as transformational as carrying out an architect-designed renovation.

Many strata schemes look favourably upon apartment consolidation for several reasons. It reduces the number of people in the building, which means less wear and tear on common areas. It can lead to fewer but more focused owners in the building, who are often more active in the running of the strata scheme. And ultimately, the building itself, with its large, premium apartments, is considered more exclusive and desirable, which increases the value of all the units in the building, therefore benefitting all the owners.

Apartment amalgamation success stories in Darling Point

Apartment amalgamations have become so commonplace in Darling Point and the surrounding suburbs that some buildings have laid out guidelines for owners on how to go about it.

Given that even three-bedroom apartments are somewhat scarce in Darling Point, many more owners are thinking about consolidating so they can enjoy the Darling Point lifestyle without compromising on space.

Prestigious buildings like Longwood and Hopewood Gardens on Thornton Street both have several combined apartments. On the same street, Thornton Place has many amalgamated units including 11a & 11b, 12a & 12b, 18a & 18b, 19a & 19b, 20a & 20b, and in Retford Hall the whole 14th floor was recently offered for sale.

Owners in the luxury building Ranelagh, at 3 Darling Point Road, with its magnificent harbour and city views, are beginning to acquire neighbouring apartments as the building undergoes a major upgrade. So too are residents in the waterfront buildings like Santina (units 15 & 16 sold in 2020) and Yarranabbe Gardens (with units 708 & 709 which recently went to auction) on Yarranabbe Road.

My team and I help many owners buy and sell neighbouring apartments and amalgamated residences in Darling Point. If you have any questions about apartment consolidation or are thinking of buying or selling here, please always feel free to contact me at any time.

The Road To Darling Point’s ‘Thornton Place’

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A striking example of Darling Point’s post-war building boom, ‘Thornton Place’ is a sought-after address at 21 Thornton Street.

But before the high rise apartments were built it was a different type of property and home to Woollahra council’s very first mayor.

A death sentence commuted

George Thornton was born in Sydney’s Macquarie Street in December 1819, the son of Samuel and Sarah Thornton.

That George was born at all came down to one crucial moment in his mother’s life. Appearing in court at London’s Old Bailey for larceny in 1813, Sarah initially received a death sentence. This was, however, commuted to transportation for life and she arrived in the colonies in 1814. Her husband would later join her as a free settler.

At the age of 16, George joined the customs department as a storekeeper. Just four years later he set himself up as a Customs House agent and in the same year married Mary Ann Solomon.

The Chairman of Woollahra

Next was a move into politics, with George elected to the Sydney Municipal Council for Cook Ward in 1847.

With his career progressing, George and Mary purchased a home in the relatively new area of Mrs Darling’s Point. Allotments were increasingly opening up along Yarranabbe Road, and it was here the Thorntons found a home – ‘Longwood’, for which they paid £2500. ‘Longwood’ backed onto the street that would eventually bear George Thornton’s name. Nearby neighbours in the already-desirable suburb included the Hordern retail family at Retford Hall.

Thornton’s life at ‘Longwood’

During his career, Thornton would hold positions on the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council. And in 1860 he became embedded into the life of his own neighbourhood, becoming the first mayor of Woollahra Council, a position then known as Chairman.

In 1862 Thornton worked with architect William Weaver on renovations and extensions to ‘Longwood’. Ten years later he made yet more changes to the home, this time with G. Allen Mansfield at the architectural helm.

There are few clues to tell us what ‘Longwood’ looked like. We know, however, that Thornton left the home in 1876 and moved to Manly, before selling ‘Longwood’ in the 1890s.

Old newspapers make occasional mention of ‘Longwood’ after Thornton’s time. The Daily Telegraph reported on the death of Dr Carl Ludwig Sahl, Imperial German Consul, who lived at ‘Longwood’ until he died there in 1897. A year later a Mrs Mylne, resident at ‘Longwood’, hosted her daughter’s wedding breakfast there after a ceremony at St Mark’s, an event that made the society pages of The Sydney Mail.

Apart from that, little survives of ‘Longwood’. The house was eventually demolished and in 1967 the first of a number of high-rise apartments – ‘Thornton Place’ – was built on the land. A neighbouring tower is called Longwood.

‘Thornton Place’: the sensational seventies and beyond

‘Thornton Place’ exemplifies the building boom that took place in Darling Point during the 1950s and 60s.

The 20-story building was typical of Darling Point high rises at the time in delivering both stunning views and modern, luxury touches. And in 2016 buyers got a rare glimpse into just what this might have looked like when Apartment 18a, on ‘Thornton Place’ 18th floor, came up for sale for the first time since undergoing a sumptuous refurbishment in the 1970s. Remarkably, it had remained untouched since the 1970s – features included bright blue shag pile carpets, boldly patterned wallpapers and a circular bed in the master bedroom. It would almost be enough to make you ignore the panoramic harbour views.

But the views from ‘Thornton Place’ are unsurpassed, no more so than from apartment 4a/21 Thornton Street, which is currently on the market. This spacious, light-filled three-bedroom apartment overlooks the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, city and surrounds. Call me today to arrange an inspection of this fabulous find.

Market Report: Darling Point, October 2021

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Sydney’s property market has been so strong this year that not even a 107-day lockdown could stop values rising.

The city’s median dwelling price lifted another 5.7% over the September quarter, according to CoreLogic. That means Sydney’s median dwelling is now worth 22.0% more than it was at the start of the year and 23.6% more than a year ago.

According to the Financial Review, Corelogic figures reveal an even bigger story in Darling Point. The apartment median price grew 26.6 per cent to $2,236,976, between when the pandemic began in March 2020, and the end of August 2021. This represents an average jump of $594,612 in value in less than 18 months. has the median unit price in Darling Point sitting at a very similar record high of $2,190,000, with two-bedroom apartments selling for a median of $1,750,000.

Meanwhile, the median value of a three-bedroom Darling Point apartment has now lifted to $4,375,000. And the local suburb record was broken in October with the sale of 10 Annandale Street, Darling Point, at over $25 million.

How lockdown changed the market

As I wrote in August, the months leading up to lockdown were busy ones for our local property market, with buyers out in force and frenetic activity at auctions. The only thing missing was stock. Property listings were at all-time lows and this was creating a genuine imbalance between supply and demand, with strong competition pushing prices higher.

When lockdown hit, real estate agents were restricted in the way we could sell properties. Open homes and physical auctions were off-limits. We pivoted to holding one-on-one inspections, physical auctions were replaced with online ones, and we began using sales methods such as expressions of interest much more frequently than we usually would have.

Some would-be sellers did hold off listing their properties. Some even withdrew their properties from sale, fearing that the market may start to turn against them and making stock even more limited. But, thankfully, people’s fears didn’t eventuate.

Instead, there were still buyers in the market. Lockdown only seemed to make many people more resolute about buying a home and making a move. Many buyers were prepared to act decisively, offering strongly to take a property off the market before lockdown ended. This meant those properties that were available often sold for a premium.

We observed that sellers who had the courage to go through with their plans and list their homes for sale were usually rewarded.

What to expect between now and the end of the year

Now, with lockdown at an end, and only 10 weeks until Christmas, the property market is entering a new phase.

This time of year is always a busy one for the property market but we expect this year may be busier still. Even though there has been a lot of activity over the past few months, we’re seeing more buyers are coming out of the woodwork, with enquiries rising since we officially emerged from lockdown on 11 October.

Anecdotally, we’ve been noticing a lot of people who’ve been working from home (sometimes in combination with homeschooling) have resolved to upsize their living quarters before the end of the year – often in an attempt to find extra space for a home office or additional living area.

At the other end of the spectrum, downsizers are becoming more active too. With property prices rising to unprecedented levels, the family home is often now worth a lot more than it was at the start of the year. Many downsizers are seizing the opportunity to sell now while the market is hot so that they can buy the next home in their property journey while freeing up capital.

More listings on the market

While we’re seeing more active buyers, we’re also seeing more properties come to market too. SQM data shows that across Sydney, the number of property listings rose close to four per cent between August and September and this month there have been noticeably more listings coming to market again.

In Darling Point, Double Bay and the harbourside Eastern Suburbs, this increased activity is happening across all market segments and quality properties from one-bedroom apartments through to grand waterside residences are hitting the market.

This should be good news for some potential sellers who have been holding off listing their own homes only because they could not find somewhere they wanted to move into. It should also help absorb some of the buyer demand that has been building in the market.

Want more?

If you’d like to know more about our local property market, or if you need help buying or selling a home, get in touch.