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Sydney Harbour View

What’s The Value Of A Sydney Harbour View?

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One of the most fabulous things about the Darling Point peninsula is its prime position in the heart of world-renowned Sydney Harbour.

This perfect positioning means many Darling Point homes are lucky enough to enjoy breathtaking harbour views. We find out more about this most coveted real estate feature and take a look at the perennial question – how much is a Sydney Harbour view worth?

A harbour view: the ultimate real estate feature

A harbour view is a home feature that never goes out of style. It can transform a room (or an entire home) and make you feel in turns calm, energised, and inspired. Whether water or city vistas, harbour views have that mercurial quality of always changing, depending on the season, the weather or the time of day, while remaining a soothing and steady constant. In suburbs like Darling Point, where buildings are already at their maximum heights and development is tightly controlled, views are unique, limited and irreplaceable, and that’s why they’re so sought-after.

What makes a Darling Point harbour view so special?

The harbour is Sydney’s pièce de resistance, and here in Darling Point, it’s virtually our backyard. Our peninsula juts out into its sapphire waters, affording many of our homes up-close-and-personal views of the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House, the twinkling city skyline, the glistening yacht-filled waters of Rushcutters Bay, north to North Sydney, Clark Island and Mosman, or east for sunrises over sparkling Double Bay and Point Piper.

Living in a Darling Point home with a harbour view might mean enjoying pole position for the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks or a front row seat for the start of the Boxing Day Sydney to Hobart yacht race. As we come into spring, Darling Point residents with harbour views will play daily witness to the sky, the harbour and its wildlife awakening from their winter slumber with longer days, a different quality of light infusing the water, ever-changing cloud formations and new life.

How much is a Sydney Harbour view worth?

When it comes to Sydney real estate, a view of our world-famous harbour has always been the most desirable vista of all, but new research reveals that demand for Australian waterfront homes is even greater since the advent of COVID. As we spent more time at home than ever, thanks to lockdowns, closed borders and remote working, our desire for a water view grew. This, coupled with a lack of homes with views on the market, has driven up prices for waterfront homes. Around Australia, waterfront homes now sell for 81 per cent more than comparable properties set back from the water, with harbourfront homes commanding the highest premium (116 per cent). Here in Sydney, that premium rises to 121 per cent for a waterfront home in a suburb like Darling Point with iconic harbour views. That’s up from 95 per cent in 2019 and the highest waterfront premium of any city in the world.

The quality of a view will also impact the price it commands. Unobstructed water views are the most highly prized, with some estimating they can add between 30 and 80 per cent to a property’s value. Partial or obstructed views may still boost a home’s price, but not to the same extent.

Which Darling Point views are the most prized of all?

Darling Point waterfront apartments and houses with views of our most iconic landmarks – the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House – tend to command the greatest premiums. These world-famous views are especially popular with overseas buyers.

As well as harbour views, direct water access is also highly coveted. The number of properties on the harbourfront will always be limited, thanks to the presence of nature reserves and parks and development controls, making the select few that possess direct water access most desirable. This can lead to significant price differences among homes in prestige neighbourhoods like Darling Point, even among homes that all possess stunning harbour views, with factors like the side of the street coming into play.

This immediate water access is where Sydney harbourfront homes often trump beachfront properties, most of which are found across the road from the beach. Harbourfront homes in suburbs like Darling Point also have the benefit of being closer to the city.

If you’re interested in buying or selling a home with a harbour view in Darling Point, get in touch today.

Swifts Mansion in Spring 2020

Darling Point’s Glorious Gardens

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Darling Point is renowned for its harbour and city views, but the suburb’s gardens and streetscapes are equally beguiling.

We take a walk through some of Darling Point’s private gardens and tree-lined public spaces.

Lindesay

The gardens surrounding heritage-listed property Lindesay have been admired by generations of visitors.

The house itself, completed in 1836, was the first home built in the area after Darling Point was subdivided. Today, the Lindesay gardens play host to weddings and other special occasions throughout the year. The parterre garden, manicured lawns and sandstone courtyard feature in many a couple’s wedding album, with uninterrupted harbour views forming a stunning backdrop.

So beloved are the gardens by locals, that a team of neighbourhood volunteers meets once a week to tend to them.

Swifts

Another classic and iconic Darling Point mansion is Swifts, dating from 1883, with its imposing gates and fig trees. The gardens surrounding the stone house are a vital part of its heritage. Beyond representing landscape and design trends from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, they show the relationship between the house and garden defined by its landmark sweeping driveway, giving the estate unique historical significance. Both the house and gardens together are considered an “item of environmental heritage”.

President Towers

Noted as Sydney’s first circular residential building, the very modern President Towers is also renowned for its award-winning gardens.

The grounds, which surround the tower and its pool area, boast a vegetable garden, a Japanese-inspired garden and nine discrete areas for residents to enjoy. The gardens are the work of landscape designer Ian McHugh, and won the Best Garden and Best Tree categories in the Woollahra Garden Awards in 2013.

Glenhurst Gardens

The 1960s ushered in an era of change for Darling Point, with many of the suburb’s grand old mansions demolished to make way for apartment blocks. While some still remain, like Babworth House or The Annery, in other cases the historic homes may be gone, but remnants of their gardens remain, along with original garden walls, fences and gate posts. Hopewood Gardens, formerly Hopewood House, is one example.

Another of these is Glenhurst Gardens, which became known as the “singing apartment block” during Sydney’s covid lockdowns. The block is situated on the land where Glenhurst, a Victorian Italianate mansion, once stood. After Glenhurst was demolished, its gardens were incorporated into the landscaping for the new apartment block.

McKell Park

McKell Park was opened in 1985, but some of its trees date from a much earlier time. Before the park was built, a large mansion, Canonbury, stood on this prime waterfront block. When the land was redeveloped, planners ensured they incorporated some of the already-existing trees into the landscape design. Take a look around the park and you’ll see Kentia and Bangalow Palms, some up to 12 metres high, which were part of the original Canonbury gardens.

Taking it to the streets

Beyond the garden gate, trees play a significant part in the street appeal of Darling Point – so much so that Woollahra Council has a Register of Significant Trees, which features a number of Darling Point trees.

As you head down Bennett Avenue towards Thornton Street you’ll see a row of palms ending with a pine. At 30 metres tall, the pine – a Cook Pine – is over 110 years old and believed to have been part of the early ornamental planting at Callooa (formerly Brougham Lodge). The palms are Canary Island Date Palms and are more than 80 years old.

On Loftus Road, near the corner of New Beach Road, two towering American Cotton Palms have stood sentinel for over 110 years, possibly planted as part of an original estate prior to subdivision.

Yarranabbe Park is also home to many significant trees. Prominent along many Darling Point streets, the Hill’s Weeping Figs that line New Beach Road are very familiar to locals. While they are listed by the council as Trees of Significance, this row of trees has caused friction over the years, with locals concerned about the trees obstructing their views.

Looking for your own piece of Darling Point? Call me today.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Darling Point Demographics: What The 2021 Census Reveals About Us

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Initial data about Darling Point from the latest government 2021 Census – has just been released.

If you’ve ever wondered who your neighbours are, how they live and what they earn or spend on their mortgage, this is the place to find out.

The data reveals some interesting facts about our local area, including that the average age of Darling Point residents has risen. Meanwhile, the number of properties has decreased slightly, and incomes, mortgage repayments and rents have all gone up. So, interestingly, has the average number of kids per family!

We take a look behind the 2021 data to see how we compare to the state and national averages. We also look at what’s changed locally since the data from the 2011 and 2016 Censuses was released.

A focus on Darling Point

I’ve been selling real estate in Darling Point for many years now. While a lot of things have changed over that time, the Census shows that several constants remain – helping make sure this is an area that’s always in demand from both buyers and renters.

On 10 August 2021, or Census night, there were a total of 3,977 of us living in Darling Point, with a fair number more women than men (54.5% women vs 45.5% men).

Most of us (59.5%) were born in Australia, and 0.3% of our population has Indigenous heritage. Those born elsewhere come from countries as diverse as England (6.1%), South Africa (3.3%), New Zealand (3.1%), China (1.7%) and the USA (1.6%).

There were 1,046 families with an average of 1.6 children each. However, couple families without children (59.9%) far outnumber couple families with children (27.3%) or single-parent families with children (12%). Overall, there’s an average of 1.9 people and 1.3 cars per household.

If we were to create a profile of an ‘average’ Darling Point inhabitant, it would be a 49-year-old married woman who was born in Australia and lives in an apartment with 2.5 bedrooms.

How does Darling Point’s population compare to NSW and Australia?

  • We’re a lot older than the average. With an average age of 49, we’re around a decade older than the NSW (39 years) and Australian (38 years) averages.
  • 16.6% of people in Darling Point speak a language other than English at home. This is half the NSW state average, but for those who do speak another language at home, it’s likely to be Mandarin, Italian, Cantonese, French or German.
  • We are fortunate to earn high incomes. Our median household income is $3,219 per week, and our median weekly personal, family and household incomes are around twice the state and national averages.
  • We give back through volunteering. Unsurprisingly, we outpace the state (13%) and national (14.1%) averages for unpaid volunteering with 19.1% of people volunteering through an organisation or group.

What does the Census reveal about Darling Point property?

  • Our homes are most likely to be apartments. Only 6.5% of properties in Darling Point are free-standing houses (nationally, it’s 72.3%). Even fewer are townhouses, terraces or attached dwellings (just 5.9%). A whopping 87.1% of dwellings are flats or apartments – this compares to a state average of 21.7% and a national average of 14.2%.
  • We have a high proportion of unoccupied dwellings. 21.4% of dwellings in Darling Point were unoccupied at the time of the Census, which is twice the state or national average.
  • Our properties are smaller than the Aussie average. Properties in our area tend to be smaller, with an average of 2.5 bedrooms per dwelling, compared with 3.1 bedrooms nationally.
  • We’re more likely to own our property outright. In Darling Point, 42.9% of properties are owned outright, which is well above the state (31.5%) and national (31%) averages. 18.4% of people currently own their property with a mortgage, which is lower than the state and national figures.
  • Around a third of all dwellings are rented. 34.9% of all dwellings are rented, which is slightly above the state average of 32.6% as well as the national average of 30.6%.

What has changed since the Census in 2011 or 2016?

There are some interesting trends worth noting in the data.

  • Our population is fairly static. In 2011, our population was 3,919. By 2016, our population was 4,190, and in 2021 it was 3,977. So while it grew a little, then dipped a little, it’s been pretty constant over the past decade.
  • The number of homes has been trending down. Ten years ago there were 2,573 dwellings, and five years ago, there were 2,527 dwellings. By 2021, the number of dwellings had decreased incrementally again to 2,454. So, while other parts of Sydney grapple with overdevelopment, we actually could be losing homes.
  • The average age is gradually increasing. It went from 47 in 2011 to 48 in 2016. In 2021, it was 49 years old.
  • But there are more children per family. Despite this, the average number of kids per family rose fractionally from 1.5 in 2011 and 2016, to 1.6 in 2021.

And the five-year data reveals other changes that impact the property market too:

  • Our already above-average weekly incomes have increased. Household incomes in our area have risen from $2,966 per week to $3,219 per week.
  • Weekly rents have increased a little. The average rent has increased from $787 per week in 2016 to $825 per week in 2021.
  • Median mortgage repayments have gone up a lot. In 2016, the median monthly mortgage repayments in Darling Point was $3,000. Five years later – and despite falling interest rates – it had risen to $3,900. That’s an increase of 30%.

Further data from the 2021 Census will be released in October.

Want more?

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

The key to building successful sales

Why I Focus On Building Relationships With Buyers

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Some real estate agents focus only on the next sale – neglecting buyers, or at least paying them scant attention – on the basis that there’s nothing in it for them.

That’s a big mistake, according to research.

CoreLogic’s Report, Buyer Perceptions of Real Estate Agents found that only 25% of buyers would use the real estate agent they bought from to sell their own home. Perhaps even worse was the fact that only 9% of buyers rated agents’ honesty and trustworthiness as “excellent”, while 16% of buyers said it was “poor” and 12% “disastrous”.

That’s not just a sad indictment of our profession, it’s also terrible for business.

We want to be synonymous with Darling Point property, which means we’d love to be the first real agent every buyer and seller recommends. We know the only way we can do that is to build long-term relationships and offer great service to everyone – not just those who we think can provide the next sale.

As the Corelogic report argued, “one of the greatest falsehoods real estate agents tell themselves is that buyers and sellers are two different types of customers who need to be treated differently.” We know that buyers are vital – the key ingredient even – to every sale we make. And, in time, buyers almost always become sellers.

I pride myself on being called back to sell for my previous purchasers. For example, in Ranelagh, which is one of the largest buildings in Darling Point, I have been responsible for more than 100 transactions over 25 years, and a personal highlight was selling one of these apartments six times – for a higher price each time.

Nurturing long-term relationships

Ultimately, real estate is a service industry. And good service promotes repeat business and good word of mouth.

The report found that buyers and sellers both highlighted the same behaviours and skills as attributes of excellent service: good communication, help, empathy, fast response times and a transparent buying process. They both also wanted someone who recognised the large emotional and financial investment that buying and selling property involves.

Most people don’t just buy one property in their lifetime. They go on a property journey: one that often starts in a small property or apartment before upsizing – maybe even a couple of times – and then downsizing into an apartment again. Along the way, many of our local buyers also buy an investment property or holiday home and help their children out with their first home.

On average, we move on every decade of our lives, according to Domain data, with an average hold time of 10.6 years for houses and 9.5 years for units. We aim to be there for all of these moves, and even in between, to offer advice along the journey.

Matching buyers with the right property

While the report sadly found that 68% of buyers said agents had little to no interest in helping them find a suitable property, we see ourselves as property matchmakers, helping people into the right home at every stage of their property journey. We may meet a buyer at one property, listen to what they’re after and then end up introducing them to – and ultimately selling them – a different property that much better suits their needs.

Sometimes this can even be someone who wasn’t really searching in earnest – or at least thought they weren’t. But we showed them a property that suited them far more than their existing home.

Here in Darling Point, where people value their privacy and only want to move if they can meet very particular criteria, there can be a whole hidden market in properties that you can only access with the right agent.

As agents, we want to go on a journey with our buyers. Sometimes, they know they want to move but don’t know exactly what they’re looking for or even what’s out there. They also often don’t have clarity on what’s essential in their next home and what may be negotiable. While we’re not buyer’s agents, we believe our role is in part to draw on our local market knowledge to guide them, matching them with their perfect property for the next stage of their lives.

We often field questions about properties buyers are considering, go the extra mile with transport and local info, or guide them on renovation potential.

In doing so, we hope in time that we become the agents of choice for all the buyers we’ve helped in Darling Point.

Want more?

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

The real estate market may not be white-hot anymore but now could actually be a better time to buy and sell.

Darling Point Property: What’s Impacting The Market

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Today’s market could actually be a better one in which to buy and sell.

We go behind the data to explore the trends that are impacting the real estate market to explore why.

The economy

First of all, it’s impossible to mention today’s property market without acknowledging the impact of rising interest rates and inflation. Inflation officially hit 5.1% in the March quarter and that forced the RBA to lift the official cash rate from 0.1% to 0.35% – the first time it had moved the rate upwards since 2010.

Generally speaking, interest rate rises have the effect of cooling the property market because they impact how much people can borrow. But we haven’t really seen an immediate impact here in Darling Point.

By and large, we’ve found that those people buying with a mortgage expected rate rises and had factored them into their budgeting. Importantly, in our area, a lot of people also buy without a mortgage – particularly downsizers – so rising interest rates haven’t really had the same impact as they might have elsewhere.

The federal election

Elections are generally times when people hold off buying or selling and take a ‘wait and see’ approach – causing property market activity to stall. Never was this more evident than in the 2019 election when property market activity stalled in the months before the election and then picked up almost immediately when the polls were over.

Back then, however, there was a real difference between the two political parties when it came to the property, with the Shorten-led ALP promising to abolish negative gearing and restrict the CGT concession on property. Many people stayed out of the market fearing a Labor win would lead to property prices falling.

This time around, neither party has any policy that impacts the market quite so dramatically – even the Coalition’s recently announced Super Home Buyer Scheme won’t have quite the same influence. So we’re still seeing properties hit the market and buyers are still about.

Rising supply

One trend that we have noticed over the first part of this year is more supply coming to market. Over 2021, there were few properties for sale compared to the number of buyers and this drove prices rapidly upwards. This should come as welcome news to buyers, who now have greater choice.

The shortage of properties has been especially acute in the market for three-bedroom and bigger units and that’s where we saw the biggest price rises.

Domain’s suburb statistics reveal that the median three-bedroom property price in Darling Point has risen an incredible 92.5% over the past year. Meanwhile, the median price of two-bedroom apartments has lifted 21.6%.

A more balanced market

With more supply on the market, we’re seeing the pace of growth moderate. Sellers shouldn’t necessarily be disappointed by this – in fact, we think many will welcome it.

Anyone selling today will still be locking in the tremendous gains made over the last 19 months. But more importantly, most people sell with the idea of moving on to a new home. With more stock on the market, those buying and selling have a greater chance of finding a good home to move on to.

While Domain is recording that the auction clearance rate in the Eastern Suburbs is now below 60%, quality properties are still selling well, even if the eventual sale happens after auction.

It’s always best to buy and sell in the same market and today’s conditions give people a little more breathing space to buy and sell than they’ve had over the past couple of years.

Want more?

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

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 realestate.com.au 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.