Written on the 15 September 2010


LUXURIES associated with top end residential properties may demand the big bucks in boom-time, but emerging from a slump the Gold Coast’s prestige property market is tipped to see a balancing of value.

Recent reports of a drop in prestige property values on the Gold Coast have been put down to initial inflation by some market commentators, though Ray White Surfers Paradise CEO Andrew Bell says post-GFC the market will establish an equilibrium between buyer and seller.

“What happened to all prestige markets as a result of the financial crisis is that a whole lot of people lost physical money while for others it created more of a reassessment of what their real needs are in terms of a residential home,” says Bell.

“A lot of people were affected by the crisis and started to question ‘do I really need this house’ or ‘do I need to have the best house on the street?’

“They are aware of what they’re prepared to pay and generally won’t go beyond that whereas in a booming market people think ‘I’ve got to pay what I need to, to get that property’.”

Bell says unlike Australia’s capital cities, consumer confidence on the Gold Coast is so closely tied to just two industries, (construction/property development) and tourism, that any hit in those sectors was sure to immediately impact top-end residential property.

He describes the current market conditions as a ‘consolidation phase’ as prestige property prepares for a return to more healthy levels, though says the expected economic cycle of the market was exaggerated, not created by the global downturn.

“It was coming anyway. In the mini-boom of 2006-07 there were 12 interest rate rises and I was just waiting to see which one would cause it (a property slump). It just so happened to coincide with the GFC,”
says Bell.

“I believe the prestige property market is really in a period where it’s just waiting to get back off the ground due to two major indicators. Firstly, you can read what is happening in the Sydney or Melbourne markets which will have a flow on effect on the Gold Coast as the year progresses.

“The second indicator is that we are already seeing the early signs. In recent auctions there has been as many of 10 registered bidders on prestige properties. Some are being conservative while others are not as much.

“It’s not difficult to sell any property when you get the price right, its only difficult if the asking price is too high. It will not take many more people to gather confidence in the market to make prices higher.”

Ray White Surfers Paradise recently sold a property on Monaco Street for $8.75 million.

Though the 3300sqm waterfront home has been a popular rental for visiting Hollywood actors Bell is still confident the market is in its lowest point of the year.

Midwood Report author Bill Morris however, says banks still play the pivotal role and with the tougher lending criteria not likely to be eased until the big global players reduce foreign debt, an eventual upturn in the prestige property sector is not that easy to predict.

“The whole problem with finance is that it’s influenced by offshore conditions. Our banks rely on overseas sources of finance and at the moment there are none,” says Morris.

“It (the downturn in prestige sales) was directly the result of the GFC and the affect it had on funding and bank lending criteria.

“Some may say it’s the way it should be – getting back to basic where you had to have equity to buy to a house. Gone is the craziness of a few years ago where we were seeing 110 per cent loans.”

While waterfront properties in particular were among the first to drop in price due to their initial high values, Morris says the lack of quality vacant waterfront land will lead to waterfront homes holding their value in the long run.

“There is a need to open up land further north on the Pimpama River though anything within proximity to the water has been quarantined from the market due to the so-called agricultural nature of the area.

“It’s only a matter of time (for waterfront land to be released). It should be sooner rather than later but there is a political agenda there.”

Morris believes prestige property will return to healthy levels ‘very gradually’.

“Lending conditions tend to cloud the market but the prime waterfront properties at Mermaid Beach, Broadbeach and to a lesser extent Burleigh and Palm Beach will increase in sales volume and value first,”
he says.

“Those areas are where interstate migrants like to live in preference to the northern suburbs like Nerang and Coomera.

“I still think there is some downturn in the property market as there just aren’t as many buyers out there but I’d expect this to start turning around by mid-late next year.

“A good time to buy could even be in six to 12 months; there could be better buys around then but it’s still hard to say.”

Those looking at entering the top end residential market could follow Morris’ line of thought and maintain a close eye on how the sector develops over the next year, or buy now before what is anticipated as a rapid recovery.

In either case, the consensus is that the Gold Coast’s prestige property club is no longer just for the affluent.

The chance to own a waterfront luxury house is within reach for more Gold Coasters than ever before, though the question remains as to when the precise moment to capitalise and purchase - before values inevitably ascend.

Sanctuary Cove Leading the Way

Recovery of the prestige property market will be driven by a flight to quality product and quality developments with a strong track record, according to Sanctuary Cove chief Alison Quinn.

The executive general manager of Australia’s leading masterplanned community, says the recent correction had already provided significant yield for Sanctuary Cove.

“We’ve certainly capitalised on the fact that people want more certainty and surety when it comes to investing in property,” says Quinn.

“Our sales teams have taken more enquiry this year than last year from people who recognise the value proposition Sanctuary Cove represents.

“The enquiry for both developer stock and re-sales within Sanctuary Cove justifies the investment that has been undertaken by Sanctuary Cove owners Mulpha to enhance the infrastructure within Sanctuary Cove.”

Quinn says no development in SouthEast Queensland offered the diversity of property that was now available at Sanctuary Cove.

“The investment we have undertaken only adds to the quality of the brand that is so universally recognised as top of the tree when it comes to property from both a lifestyle and an investment proposition,” she says.

“We certainly believe we are experiencing that flight to quality that is part of the new natural trend within the property market in the current cycle.”

Matusik Property Insights found that while the median sale price of group-titled dwellings across Hope Island declined by 7 per cent between 2007/08 and 2008/09, properties at Sanctuary Cove achieved an average annual capital gain of 7.8 per cent during the same period.

The diversity of product at Sanctuary Cove is reflected in the latest residential releases, with a collection of prime allotments at varying price points catering for a range of buyer tastes.

An exclusive series of north-facing waterfront blocks in the gated Tristania precinct were recently unveiled, ranging size from 1000sqm at a starting price of $1.495 million.

The lots, which feature Sanctuary Cove’s first three-storey building covenant, are arguably the most prestigious waterfront land offerings ever released at the $2 billion masterplanned community.

The new waterfront offerings share Edgecliff Drive with the famous Sanctuary Cove ‘super block’ which sold for $7.2 million and is expected to occupy a lavish $15 million home.

With only nine north facing allotments in Tristania available, the offer reflects an exceptionally rare opportunity to secure one of these waterfront blocks and create an exclusive Sanctuary Cove residence.

Also part of Mulpha’s latest land releases is a collection of hilltop lots in the Alpinia precinct, which offer views over The Pines championship golf course, hilltop breezes, and configurations to suit both single and double storey homes.

The diversification of Sanctuary Cove’s residential product is part of an overarching strategy to enhance and maintain the appeal to the next generation of buyers.

Quinn says the hilltop land offers an affordable entry point for buyers, who can ultimately buy and build at Sanctuary Cove for around $1 million.

“Buyers are becoming more and more discerning and are searching for value, quality and lifestyle – what is on offer at Sanctuary Cove certainly caters for these ever-changing needs of the market,”
she says.

“The array of product and prices within Sanctuary Cove is attracting a broader buyer demographic to the community, with families and young couples now calling Sanctuary Cove home.”

Unique Homes up the ante

As population growth sees vacant waterfront land becoming scarcer on the Gold Coast, demolishing and re-building on an existing site is quickly becoming a more attractive alternative for those seeking to move into the prestige property market.

Gold Coast Unique Homes has become a major player in prestige property.

Company director Jim Taylor, says Gold Coast Unique Homes is receiving an increasing number of inquiries from people considering this option.

“The Gold Coast still has quite a few smaller, holiday cottage-style homes that were constructed on canals and waterways in the early 1970s,” he says.

“Many of these are now showing their age and often, it is simply more cost efficient to demolish and re-build than to attempt renovations to bring them into line with 21st century expectations.”

These early waterfront properties, often located in prime positions close to city offices and surf beaches can still be bought from around $1 million. A new luxury home can range from around $600,000 to more than $2 million, but even at the top end, there is still the opportunity to acquire an outstanding home close to all facilities at an attractive all-up price.

Taylor says buyers today are looking for something different, particularly in the upper end of the market.

“That’s where our free design service is appreciated. We look at the land and talk to our clients about their architectural preferences and lifestyle,” he says.

“In the case of a re-development, we can create additional outdoor living areas by designing a two-storey home where a block may previously have been occupied by a single storey home with a larger footprint.

“Older homes often included only three bedrooms, one bathroom and basic kitchen facilities whereas today, people are enjoying in-home theatres, private studies or offices, desirable parents’ retreats and multiple bathrooms.”

While the majority of Gold Coast Unique Homes projects have been built on waterfront allotments, the company’s latest luxury display home at Coomera Waters, Tranquility, demonstrates how a luxury lifestyle can be enjoyed on a dry block.

“Our aim was to design a home that is a true entertainer, capable of meeting the diverse needs of professionals and their families, while simultaneously reflecting an efficient and environmentally aware lifestyle,” says Taylor.

Tranquility’s oversized entry opens to a stunning ground floor vestibule. Here, a superbly crafted curved staircase surrounds a striking 4m high light fitting suspended from the upper level ceiling.

Folding doors open to reveal a spacious, self-contained granny flat or fourth bedroom, complete with its own kitchen, en-suite bathroom and walk-in robe.

This area has its own private entry from the front patio and as visitors have no need to enter the home’s main living area.

Ascending the staircase, one immediately notices a bridge spanning the void over the entry vestibule. The semi-open plan living area features a stunning floor-to-ceiling curved glass wall through which one can enjoy the full expanse of the pool and outdoor entertaining area.

Flowing from the large outdoor dining area is a spacious media room featuring a large flat panel TV capable of being viewed from most of the home’s living areas, including the designer kitchen.

Unique timber joinery applied to the front of a free-standing breakfast bar is the first striking feature of the designer kitchen – best described as ‘a real piece of art’.

A spacious family room opens to the huge alfresco outdoor entertaining area through floor to ceiling sliding glass doors, offering unimpeded access with no corner support pillar.

The master bedroom boasts two large sliding doors leading to a private balcony where glass balustrades add to the open aesthetics. Twin basins and mirrors, a huge shower recess, spa bath and quality taps and hardware all add to the feeling of luxury in the master bathroom.

Brentnall inspired by Bali luxury

A masterpiece display home by Brentnall Great Australian Homes is under construction at the prestigious Huntington Downs estate at Maudsland, west of the Gold Coast.

When complete, the breathtaking Inspirations abode will feature sprawling bungalows set over lush tropical gardens inspired by Balinese architecture seen across the Indonesian island.

The Inspirations design is the latest creation from the multiaward-winning luxury home builder, which boasts more than 75 years combined experience in the prestigious design and building industry.

Brentnall Great Australian Homes boast an impressive portfolio showcasing exquisite homes in some of the most opulent addresses, both in Australia and overseas.

The 850sqm sprawling Balinese-style retreat home at Huntington Downs is set on a 4000sqm sloping block with a completion date set for later this year.

Brentnall Great Australian Homes director Siobhan Pearson says the Inspirations home has been designed to mirror a luxurious Balinese resort day spa, inspired by the exclusive resorts found throughout the Balinese islands.

“We wanted to capture the essence of Bali and bring that right into the home,” says Pearson.

“We wanted the home to reflect the opulence and majesty of Balinese architecture and combine that with practical and elegant pieces to create a timeless design that will last for generations.

“The home is designed to function like lungs — to expand and contract. Creating zoned living spaces able to expand, perfect for the modern extended family and the ultimate in entertaining, or contract into your own private sanctuary.

“Living in this home will be like living in a luxurious resort, an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We have also been extremely conscious of the homes carbon footprint which is why we will be installing vast underground water tanks and solar panels.”

True to the ethos of building homes that become more than just a house or a place to reside, Brentnall Great Australian Homes is focused on providing elegant designs, purpose-built to be the owner’s private sanctuary, setting a new benchmark for quality and style.

Capturing the exotic feel of a Balinese bungalow, using timeless finishes and just the right balance of air, light and space, Brentnall Homes has brought the essence of Bali right in to the home’s core and expansive surroundings.

Timber accents and stone finishes, floor to ceiling windows and pavilion style cathedral ceilings create an authentic Indonesian feel, complete with lush, fragrant gardens.

“The home isn’t finished yet, but already we are receiving a phenomenal response. People take one look at what we are doing with Inspirations, and they fall in love,” says Pearson.

“All Brentnall Homes are signature pieces – we never build the same home twice, and for this reason, buyers can enjoy the assurance of owning an exclusive, one-off property.”

The Inspirations home comprises five spacious bedrooms, all with walk-in robes and ensuites, complemented by a games room, sunken billiard room including a wet bar, a state-of-the-art media room and a home office. The home enjoys a bright open-planned dining, kitchen and family spaces which all overlook the expansive alfresco dining area, the ultimate for entertaining guests.

An elegant port cochere directs you into a majestic entrance with a timber bridge crossing running water, leading to a heavy timber door.

The foyer has soaring 7m timber-lined ceilings and opens to another bridge, making way for the alfresco feature area, complemented by transparent glass flooring, complete with running water stream.

The grand lounge room features a stone-clad fireplace, timber-lined cathedral ceilings and huge picture windows that overlook the resort-style pool. The spacious master bedroom has a private balcony, fireplace and an ensuite with an imported stone bath.

The kitchen has been designed to include a butler’s pantry, huge stone bench tops and plenty of storage space with rich chocolate tones and warm honed sandstone tiles.

The Inspirations home has a separate guest house and the outdoor entertainment area includes a separate pool cabana, an outdoor kitchen and a fully equipped gymnasium. The exterior of the home exudes a warm and natural appearance with a rendered finish and extensive use of stone-clad walls and rich timber louvres and windows.

Inspirations offers a country retreat with city convenience — only 45 minutes to Brisbane and 20 minutes to Surfers Paradise. The home is set to be one of the biggest and best displays on the Gold Coast and is available for sale on a generous lease back arrangement.

Brentnall Great Australian Homes is one of the few female operated building and design companies in Australia, offering a unique female perspective on the whole building process, from design through to construction.

Salacia Waters setting new standards

Australia’s largest waterfront residential development project to be undertaken this year, the $650 million Salacia Waters, has ushered in a new era of residential living in Queensland.

The spectacular project will see the introduction of internationally-inspired residential living on the Gold Coast which will add to some of the already iconic international brands such as Palazzo Versace, Q1, Sanctuary Cove and the Hilton Hotel.

Director of Ray White New Projects Julian Sutherland, says the development is truly remarkable and is surrounded by ‘unparalleled natural beauty which will undoubtedly become one of the city’s hallmark residential destinations’.

“We see Salacia Waters not only adding to the international flavour of the Gold Coast but complementing the rich tapestry of the Paradise Point area which has become one of Australia’s iconic residential destinations with the likes of The Sovereign Island and Ephraim Island,” says Sutherland.

“Salacia Waters will become the next major residential brand for the Gold Coast for many years to come as it has been created as one of the best residential precincts ever produced here.”

Salacia Waters will ultimately feature 470 luxury apartments and villas beginning with the first stage, comprising of 131 apartments spread across five unique buildings.

The first stage, which also includes construction of 13 villas, is under construction and due for completion by the end of this year with the first residents expected to move in by Christmas.

In a vote of confidence for the $650 million community and the prestige property market in general, contracts to the tune of $7.27 million have been issued on six waterfront apartments and dry apartments as well as three marina berths.

Across the five architecturally designed buildings, Salacia Waters boasts a selection of one, two, three and four bedroom luxury waterfront and park-view options including penthouses.

Apartments will range in size from 87sqm to 369sqm and will be priced from $430,000 to $3.1 million.

The individual buildings have been designed by a selection of world-renowned architects to ensure architectural difference between buildings, including DBI who are responsible for the Sheraton Mirage and Versace Hotel, EJE Architecture, Sydney’s Innovarchi and SJB Architects, and New-York based architect Walter Chatham.

The first stage will also offer 600sqm of retail and dining space with an outdoor boardwalk dining precinct, the home offices will all feature a ground level street presence.

Developed in a joint venture between global-giant Lotte Engineering and Construction and Salacia Waters Pty Ltd headed by Korean businessman Benjamin Shin, the spectacular mixed-use development will ultimately create a new standard of living for the blue-chip suburb.

The master-plan was designed by US based master-planners DPZ Pacific. The project is based on the principles of ‘new urbanism’ and will feature an interconnected network of walkways and a public promenade linked to the Paradise Point Park.

Upon completion Salacia Waters will boast a waterfront plaza adjoining a private marina and retail precinct, restaurants and a rehabilitated public beach and foreshore parks.

Facilities will include a gymnasium, a private residents club, swimming pools and spas, a sauna as well as large water features and open parklands.

Sutherland says Salacia Waters is an important development for the Paradise Point community and essentially completes one of the city’s most prestigious suburbs.

Lotte Engineering and Construction’s Australian director Harrison Byun, says Salacia Waters will create a new lifestyle destination adding to the already strong international appeal of the Gold Coast.

“With Salacia Waters occupying the last remaining undeveloped parcel of land fronting the Broadwater we believe the completion of this project will add significantly to the area and mark a milestone for both Lotte and the city’s long history of world class waterfront developments,” says Byun.

The first stage of the Salacia Waters marina has been given the green light by the Gold Coast City Council with 35 berths due to be completed with the first stage of the project.

The staged $11 million Salacia Waters marina will offer residents a range of individual lease-hold marina berths from 10m to 35m, the latter capable of accommodating ‘superyachts’.

Three berths at the Salacia Waters marina have sold for undisclosed prices, leaving only 32 long term lease-hold marina berths in the first stage available only to residents with prices starting from $120,000.

The $650 million mixed-use project is located within minutes of the Hope Island and Sanctuary Cove golf courses, Runaway Bay and Harbour Town Shopping Centres as well as being within close proximity to Surfers Paradise and within 50 minutes of the Brisbane CBD.

Salacia Waters, located on a 10.8ha site at the tip of Paradise Point, will be built in three stages and is expected to be completed by 2013, providing a much needed boost for Queensland’s construction industry.

Hamilton Island Villas - the perfect reef escape

If the ideal weekend escape involves stepping off a plane, onto the deck of a luxury yacht and basking among the Great Barrier Reef, look no further than Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas.

Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas has recently completed 35 luxurious waterfront villas to be released to the market in lots of six. With prices starting at $2.55 million, the first six have already sold with the second lot just released.

The Villas form part of the Island’s newest residential development that adjoins the marina and are exclusively linked to the Yacht Club and are designed with natural timbers and sweeping lines, draw on thematic elements inspired by the local environment.

The stand-alone Villas reflect Australian architect Walter Barda’s vision of an informal ambience that makes the most of the unique and beautiful island setting.

Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas general manager Noel Lucas-Martinez, says the initial success of the luxury villas highlights how the island defies current market conditions.

He says the appeal is heightened by the amount of investment dollars injected into developing the Island’s recreational and leisure facilities which now include a golf course with ocean views, the brand new Yacht Club and qualia - Australia’s newest top-end luxury resort on the Great Barrier Reef.

“Hamilton Island has seen more than $350 million in investment since 2004. What we’ve noticed is when visitors have returned to the island after ten years or so, they are often overwhelmed with the level of developement that has occurred,” says Lucas-Martinez.

“My experience is that there are serious investors in the market, but they are looking for something particularly special.

“When they see the level of investment that has gone into Hamilton Island in recent years they become a lot more comfortable in investing in the properties. Bob Oatley, the owner of the island, described the process as ‘polishing the diamond’.”

All six properties sold from the first offering were purchased by Australian investors for an average of $3 million and when not in personal use, return $1200-1700 per week in rent from holiday-goers.

“It’s the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. One of the great things about Hamilton Island is that it’s so accessible with its own airport; it’s only a few hours away from any capital city,” says Lucas-Martinez.

“This aspect is especially popular with boat owners who rather than wait on the mainland to get a ferry across to one of the other islands, step off the plane and go straight onto the reef.

“Its exceptional convenience for people who are time-poor.”

The Villas, set over three levels, capture spectacular views of Dent Passage towards the Whitsunday Islands.

All include a spacious open plan living/dining room; state-of-the art gourmet kitchen with Miele appliances; four bedrooms and four bathrooms, comprising: master suite and walk-in robe and bathroom, two additional double bedrooms with ensuite, and a fourth bedroom/flexible space or media room.

In addition, the Villas have separate laundries, fully ducted air conditioning and a private golf buggy. The landscaping has been designed by internationally recognised landscape artist and TV host Jamie Durie, rounding off a distinctly Australian-feel.

With these spectacular features and Lucas-Martinez’s outlook on the holiday destination’s prestige property market, the Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas are not expected to be on the market long.

“There is a sense of optimism returning. The last 12 months has seen a cautious ‘wait and see’ approach but there is a renewed level of confidence among buyers now that the economy is on the rebound and doing well,” says Lucas-Martinez.

“People in general and more importantly the media have only just starting to have a positive outlook on the market. Our products have performed very well and we’re quietly confident that we’re going to see a lot more interest over coming months.”


Most people define prestige residential living as luxurious waterfront homes, complete with a personal jetty for easy access to the latest power yacht – but not all.

For others, prestige residential living is all about the green behind the gold; coexisting seamlessly with the Gold Coast’s natural ambience.

The growing trend towards eco-sustainable homes is highlighted by the popularity of The Ecovillage at Currumbin – now in its final stages of selling.

The striking and contemporary Ayni Munay home to be constructed on a 3311sqm block, showcases the best of the Highlands products with sweeping views of Currumbin Valley and the Pacific Ocean.

With construction planned to commence in May, the innovative design comprises a series of elevated boardwalks linking tree house-like pods and pavilions that harmonise with views

The flow-through of cooling summer breezes is achieved from this design. The pods provide for privacy yet connectivity for various family members or perfect for entertaining guests.

Developer Landmatters had a vision to ‘inspire sustainable living and development practice awareness’ by creating a world-class ecologically sustainable village.

With The Ecovillage achieving $2.8 million in sales over just two weeks last month, Landmatters managing director Chris Walton says the majority of purchasers are not ‘greenies’ but come from all demographics and walks of life.

“The Ecovillage’s highly successful past marketing has attracted standard market place buyers – buyers who are looking for healthy lifestyles and who are well versed in sustainable living requirements,” says Walton.

“Landmatters believes that the general property market has matured to a point where green living is becoming more mainstream and can be a deciding factor that enhances saleability of real estate product.

“The strong sales activity experienced just recently has resulted from buyers of this makeup – our point of difference is that we are a well designed subdivision, which is also sustainable, and this is serving us very well in this time where there is a low demand for quality vacant land product.”

In October last year, Landmatters and Gold Coast City Council unveiled the $50,000 joint project Innovation Estate, designed to showcase the advantages of sustainably-designed homes.

The goal is to preserve and enhance the current beauty of the site, improve its biodiversity, and nurture the regeneration of the land into a leading example of sustainable community living.

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