Expats are so keen to find a safe haven for their money they are buying Sydney real estate promptly and sometimes without even seeing it.
One expat has just bought a Manly beachfront property for more than $5 million after seeing it only on a video, another was chasing an exclusive townhouse with a price tag of more than $7 million and a third paid $1.8 million for a Manly unit with views of the Heads.
Prime positions on or near the water seem particularly attractive and the northern beaches, and Manly especially, seems to feature heavily on their wish list.
With the share market volatile and interest rates at historic lows Australians living abroad are looking for havens now for their hard-earned money.
A waterfront house in Newport that has been on the market since before Christmas has sold this week to expats wanting something special to return to.
Nik Vuko, of Domain Residential, said the tri-level home at 130 Prince Alfred Pde was bought by Australians living abroad who were looking for a property opportunity while the dollar was down.
“They won’t live in it for a year or two. It was a good result,” he said.
The five-bedroom home sold in the high $2 millions and was on 631sqm of land with an additional 80sqm beyond the seawall which had the potential for a boathouse.
Michael Clarke, of Clarke & Humel, said in the last two months he has handled more expat inquiries than in his whole career.
“They are calling up wanting somewhere safe for their money,” he said.
“They have watched records tumble in Manly and are thinking there must be something special about the place so are coming out to investigate,” he said.
“I have had expats fly out from the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong looking for opportunities,” he said.
Mr Clarke sold a beachfront property, on North Steyne Manly for more than $5 million to an expat who didn’t actually step inside before buying. He just watched the online video.
Australians working abroad routinely put up with a lesser lifestyle for a few years in order to come back to something special on their return.
“Properties in Manly look amazing when you are sitting in the northern hemisphere in January. Increasingly Manly offers that tourist lifestyle and wonderful beach,” Mr Clarke said.
The high-profile Manly agent also had an expat as an underbidder on an exclusive townhouse in the Montpelier estate which sold off market for more than $7.5 million. On that occasion the expat missed out and the townhouse sold to a northern beaches buyer.
Property buyer Peter Kelaher, of PK Property, said he is busy helping expats find property and he is struck at how many of them want the northern beaches.
“A two-bedroom apartment in Manly is now the same price as a unit in Mosman, people are loving the northern beaches lifestyle,” he said.
Mr Kelaher just bought for an expat client a $1.8 million apartment in Manly with a view of the heads.
“Anyone linked to the stock market is nervous and they are bringing back their money looking to spend,” he said.
CEO of Propertybuyer, Richard Harvey, said the current expat rush was similar to the time of the riots in Hong Kong when Australians sought to send money back and invest in property.
“We had inquiries wanting to fly to the safety of bricks and mortar, they particularly want prestige property and there is only so much to go around,” he said.