What does the upper end of Sydney’s property market look like?
25th April 2023

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In numbers

  • $1,520,111Threshold for the top 25 per cent of Sydney’s property market by value
  • $1.74 millionThreshold for the top 25 per cent of Sydney’s property market by value, a year ago

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What does the upper end of Sydney’s property market look like?

A one-bedroom Manly apartment, a quality two-bedder in Maroubra and family homes in Ermington and Schofields are among the homes valued in the top 25 per cent of Sydney real estate.

What does the upper end of Sydney’s property market look like?Credit: Nathan Perri

For the first three months of the year, Sydney homes valued at $1,520,111 or above were counted as the top 25 per cent of the market, CoreLogic figures show. The figure includes houses and apartments.

The upper 25 per cent of the market comprises a vast spectrum of homes, from eastern suburbs apartments all the way to mansions in the tens of millions of dollars. Sydney’s house price record is a Point Piper four-bedder that sold for $130 million last year, while the most expensive residential deal is a $140 million apartment atop Lendlease’s Residences One tower at Barangaroo, but that is a consolidation of two apartments.

The one-bedroom Manly apartment that made it into the upper end cut-off came with a spacious terrace and on-site swimming pool and gym.

At 511/15 Wentworth Street, the home sold for $1.55 million prior to its scheduled auction.

Stone Real Estate Manly selling agent Candice Cattell said a range of first home buyers and downsizers had been interested, and after issuing seven contracts it turned into a bidding war.

“The reason that got such a good price was it was a really good one-bedroom apartment,” she said, adding that others in the area with smaller floor plans might fetch between $1 million and $1.1 million.

Buyers with between $1.5 million and $1.6 million to spend could also expect an older-style two-bedroom apartment in a red brick building with car parking but no lift, she said.

CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said Sydney’s upper end is one of the more volatile parts of the housing market, possibly because it is more sensitive to changes in the cost of finance.

It may first appear a little surprising the top end of an expensive market such as Sydney is not higher, she agreed, but noted the threshold includes units as well as houses.

On the other hand, buyers would need a deposit of at least $150,000, or $300,000 to avoid lenders’ mortgage insurance, which she said is a large upfront volume to try to save from income alone.

“In terms of the higher end of the market it probably would be people trading up, second home buyers or people with other assets,” she said.

Some buyers at that level may have shares, other properties, or help from family members who have access to wealth, she said.

“It would be an extremely wide variety of properties that fall into this. It could be larger homes in areas further from the CBD, or more peripheral areas of Sydney. It could constitute smaller apartments in beachside [suburbs].”

Some of the suburbs with median dwelling values closest to the $1.5 million mark include Maroubra, Waverley and Edgecliff, as well as Drummoyne and Lugarno, she said.

A year ago, the cut-off for Sydney’s upper end was at $1.74 million, she said.

“The high end of the market has dropped, and it’s not to say it’s really become more affordable or accessible – only because that’s in the same period that borrowing capacity has been severely reduced through higher interest rates as well,” she said.

In Maroubra, a two-bedroom garden apartment at 1/85-87 Duncan Street sold for $1,595,000 last month.

Selling agent Josh Ellison of Ellison Zulian Property said buyers at that level are generally young and upgrading from their first home, but without the capacity to buy a semi. Other buyers are empty nesters looking to downsize.

“The apartment market from $1.5 million to $2 million, you are sitting towards the premium two-bedroom market in terms of sizing, level of finish and outlook,” he said, adding other options would be a three-bedroom apartment or townhouse without views.

Buyers could trade proximity to the beach for more space, such as a family home in Earlwood at 558 Homer Street that sold for $1.55 million prior to auction.

The four-bedroom house set on a 455-square-metre block, sold to an upgrader who beat a first-home buyer that was interested up to $1.5 million, McGrath Leichhardt selling agent Alexandra Stamatiou-Buda said. That is the threshold under which first home buyers can choose to avoid stamp duty in favour of annual property tax, until the concession expires mid-year.

The home was in good condition and liveable but did lend itself to a new kitchen and bathroom, she said.

In Ermington, $1.55 million bought a five-bedroom main house with separate studio at 469 Kissing Point Road.

The house sold to a young family who found their budget stretched to more bedrooms there, compared to in Ryde where it may have bought a three-bedroom villa unit, First National Ryde Group selling agent Robert Younis said.

He said young families who have owned an apartment or townhouse in the area and are looking for something larger are active around that price point, as well as some first home buyers, but there was little stock available.

“There is pretty high demand for properties around the $1.5 million to $1.8 million vicinity in and around that Ermington pocket,” he said.

In Schofields, a family home at 57 Dongola Circuit also fetched $1.55 million after 11 buyers registered to bid and an upgrader won the auction.

Amit Kumar, of the eponymous agency, said buyers of established homes in the area were mindful that construction costs for new builds had increased and some building firms have been struggling.

Entry-level buyers could purchase a townhouse starting from $800,000 to $850,000 there, or a house from about $1 million, but growing families looking for their second or third home were spending about $1.5 million, he said.

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