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The Gold Coast trophy home that stands to make $38.7 million profit in six years

The Gold Coast trophy home that stands to make $38.7 million profit in six years

The morning that 26 Knightsbridge Parade East, Sovereign Islands went up for auction, Perth civil engineer Ric Rizzi awoke and thought to himself the bidding would likely start at $12 million.

It was 2013 and the landmark Gold Coast waterfront property, which had fallen into mortgagee hands halfway through being built, had reportedly already cost its local owners $21.44 million.

Designed by the Brunei royal family architect Bayden Goddard,  the brief had been to create a chateau that looked 100 years old and suited the European coast or Long Island, New York. The house was majestically sprawled over four blocks of land that cost $9.44 million in 2005, and had an initial construction cost of $12 million before its owners were evicted with only half the house completed.

The Gold Coast trophy home that stands to make $38.7 million profit in six years 1

Mr Rizzi turned up at the auction expecting to snag a bargain but even he was completely shocked when the hammer fell at $5.3 million, with him the final bidder.

“It was bizarre. When the realisation came that there were no other bidders, that was a sensational feeling. I looked at the top of the entrance hall that stands 14.5 metres above the ground and it was almost like a sign from heaven that it was meant to be,” he said.

“In what world do you actually buy a house like this for significantly less than the land value? It was a total leap of faith; I didn’t think about what it would cost to finish, whether it was a good or bad decision and normally I’m an ultra conservative civil engineer.

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“To take on a project was left field for me at the time but the whole thing just happened in milliseconds so I took it as a sign from God it was meant to be.”

Shortly after buying the mansion, Mr Rizzi was able to purchase the adjoining lot next door for $1.19 million and amalgamated all five blocks on to one massive title, giving the property a whopping 106 metres of north-facing water frontage.

He then spent 12 months compiling all of the documentation – building licences and approvals – and re-instating the consultants and builder who had originally worked on the house.

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Once that was in place, finishing the house took a whopping five years to complete.

“One of the carpenters spent five years of his life working on this house. The tiler laid more than an acre of tiles during that time. It was an absolute labour of love,” Mr Rizzi said.

“The house was never really a project to make money. It came to me in the most bizarre way and I’ve always viewed it as being a sign of the success in my life, versus just a trophy.”

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While Mr Rizzi may not have set out to make money, it will come to him anyway. The house is once again up for sale, albeit this time finished, and with a jaw-dropping price tag to match its palatial size – it’s listed for $US30 million (about $AUD 44 million).

Marketing agent Alex Phillis of Alex Phillis Real Estate said the property was listed for sale in US dollars because it was likely the buyer would come from overseas.

“Buyers from Singapore and the Middle East work in US dollars, so we’re just making it easy for them,” he said.

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“I’m already fielding inquiries from overseas – this is a house that will go viral.”

But he wasn’t ruling out a local buyer, pointing out there were plenty of wealthy people in Australia who had eyeballs on it.

“This house is phenomenal on a national scale. Certainly, this is the most incredible house on the Gold Coast but I don’t think there’s anything like this in Australia, based on the construction alone,” he said.

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“I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s in an absolute league of its own. It’d be worth $100 million easy if it was on the Sydney harbour.”

Some of the house’s incredible features include seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, custom copper doors, a Turkish bathhouse, eight-metre high ceilings, a 30-metre swimming pool and imported French oak flooring.

The 14.5-metre high entrance lobby features Australia’s only four-metre tall, bronze, imported Italian statue of King Neptune, which took carpenters two days just to unpack it. If you’ve got a few cars, there’s a 568-square-metre waterproofed sprayed concrete basement with 12 car parks, wine cellar and a workshop.

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“To give you an idea of how big this house is, we needed a drone to video the inside of the house,” Mr Phillis said.

“The east and west corridors are 80 metres long. The corridors are that high and that wide, the scale of it is just incredible.”

Mr Rizzi said he had lived in the house and loved it but with all four of his adult children now back living in Perth, he wanted to move back to the west coast to be closer to them.

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“What it came down to, at the end of the day, was it was just too small for me,” he laughed.

“Seriously though, Scott Tyne [the original owner] was a visionary. I fulfilled the way I believe Mr Tyne would have wanted it and I hope the person who secures it truly appreciates what it actually is.

“I don’t think this house will ever be duplicated in Australia again because it means giving up five years of your life. The true value is not in the bricks and mortar, it’s the five years of a person’s life.

“And it probably cost me the cost of a Volkswagon Polo in paint sample pots. A lot has gone into this house. I want to see it loved and enjoyed.”




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Boomers a ‘Force of Change’ in Retirement Property Market

Property Market

As teenagers they invented pop culture and now—much older, collectively wealthier and arguably wiser—they are defining a new age group and re-inventing retirement living.

Millenials may have surpassed them in numbers but baby boomers are still having significant influence on world economies and trends—not least in the property market.

“The baby boomers are coming through and have become a force for change in the seniors’ market,” said Cameron Kirby, managing director of Kirby Consulting Group, a retirement and aged care specialist.

“The more progressive operators are definitely getting their ducks in a line.

“And there’s a lot of developers interested in dipping their toes in the market for the first time, some of them with more than 30 years’ experience in the development industry, because they can see there is huge opportunity.

“[But] many developers that want to enter into this space are probably a bit reticent because they’re worried about the complexity of it, they’re worried about the unknowns.

“The opportunities, however, far outweigh any of their concerns.

“And if you’re offering what the market wants, you’re going to be successful.”

Kirby will be a speaker at The Urban Developer Developing For An Ageing Demographic vSummit on April 28.

“The sector is continuously changing,” he said.

“You’ve got land lease communities and over-55 developments that have been moving into the traditional retirement village space.

“And, at the moment, there’s a lot of talk about integrated care in retirement living with a greater weighting on having more retirement villages and less aged care.”

Last year, a survey by benchmarking firm StewartBrown showed 58 per cent of aged care homes were operating at a loss, up from 55 per cent the previous financial year, and 32 per cent made a cash loss.

“Aged care has got some major challenges … but in the meantime there’s also the baby boomers coming through,” Kirby said.

“What I’ve seen over the last 10 years is a bit of a slide where low-care people that used to go into aged care are more likely to go into retirement villages and, equally, people that used to go into more traditional retirement villages are now probably more interested in moving into land lease communities and over-55s concepts.

“Land lease communities are growing very fast and are hugely attractive, there’s no doubt about that … but retirement villages have upped the ante enormously as well, they tend to offer much more wellness and are moving more towards the care side of things.

“Certainly, operators who are offering care in retirement villages are going from strength to strength.

“There’s an increasing amount of quality retirement villages with hotel and resort-style living and state-of-the-art amenities coming online. Pools, gyms, spas, saunas, cinemas, you name it they’ve got it. 

“But those retirement living operators that have a full continuum of care solution that’s what the market is demanding … [the boomers] know they’re going to need some support down the line so they’re planning for their future.

“It really doesn’t matter, however, whether you’re doing aged care, retirement, over-55s or land lease community … because demand is outstripping supply. There is a market for all of those and they attract very different types of buyers.”

Kirby said given Australia’s ageing demographic, the seniors and retirement market was a “much more defensive proposition” for developers.

“Just as healthcare is a defensive stock on the stock market, I think seniors living is a much more defensive play in the property sector,” he said.

“It tends to be more needs driven than what a straight-out residential property play would be.

“And so, I think if we are going to be headed towards a softer property market this is an area that can really shine because seniors will still have the wealth and will still want to move and look at downsizing opportunities.”


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Houses still in high demand, apartment prices lag


The price growth of apartments continues to lag rocketing house prices in many suburbs across Sydney and Melbourne, with the trend showing little signs of abating.

The widening price gap between houses and units is a long-term trend driven by land scarcity in our biggest cities, with the difference tending to be widest between houses and high-rise apartments.

While house prices in Sydney’s North Ryde soared 29 per cent in the year ended March 31, unit prices in the suburb grew by a mere 6 per cent. Similarly, prices in Homebush grew 29 per cent, compared to unit price growth of just 7 per cent.

In Sydney’s Pennant Hills, house prices grew 24 per cent, while unit prices were flat, figures from CoreLogic show.

It is the same story in many parts of Melbourne, with Essendon North house prices growing by 19 per cent over the same period, while apartment prices fell by almost 1 per cent.

Houses in Melbourne’s Canterbury saw their prices jump more than 14 per cent, while units dipped 4 per cent. In inner-city Hawthorn East, houses were up 9.6 per cent, compared to a 6 per cent fall in unit prices.

Earlier analysis by CoreLogic showed more expensive property markets, particularly those close to CBDs and in areas where there are high numbers of units relative to houses, tend to have the biggest price gaps.

Eliza Owen, head of research at CoreLogic, says one of the reasons for the relative recent poor price performance of unit markets is COVID-19 related travel restrictions, including the closure of Australia’s international borders.

Demand for investment units in urbanised centres likely fell because of their high exposure to migrants and international students.

During the height of the pandemic, many units were empty, particularly in inner Melbourne.

The re-opening of international borders is seeing arrivals from overseas rising quickly, which should help to support the prices of units in both Sydney and Melbourne, she says.

However, Owen says one area of concern remains the prospect of higher mortgage interest rates, with prices of investment units more sensitive to rate movements than houses.

Many analysts expect the Reserve Bank of Australia to start increasing official interest rates this year, possible as early as June, with lenders expected to pass on any hikes in their variable rate mortgages.

Following two years of surging property prices, the big gains made over the past year appear to be over.

Sydney house prices were 0.1 per cent lower in March after being flat in February. Unit prices were 0.5 per cent lower in March and 0.3 per cent lower in February.

In Melbourne, house prices down 0.2 per cent lower in March, following flat prices February. Unit prices were 0.2 per cent higher in March and 0.1 per cent higher in February. However, those small gains came after big falls in inner-city unit property values during COVID-19 restrictions.

Coming off the back of strong annual growth, falling affordability continues to be a key factor affecting property market conditions.

A surge in the cost of living and rising rents is restricting the ability of prospective homeowners to save and borrow.

In last month’s federal budget, the government expanded the number of places available in its low-deposit scheme.

The program allows first-home buyers, and others, to buy new or existing dwellings with a deposit of only 5 per cent, instead of the usual 20 per cent that is needed to avoid paying expensive lenders’ mortgage insurance.


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Brisbane house prices leave units in the dust

Brisbane house prices

The gap between house and apartment prices in Brisbane is now the widest in at least two decades, but is set to shrink over the next 12 months as housing affordability bites and buyers choose cheaper options, Colliers says.

Colliers residential director Queensland, Andrew Roubicek, said the price difference between houses and apartments in Brisbane has reached 45 per cent compared with an average of around 20 per cent between 2003 and 2015.

Brisbane house prices further escalated with the onset on COVID-19 when people placed a higher value on privacy with interstate migration to the Sunshine State also propelling Queensland’s property market.

Property data company CoreLogic estimates that Brisbane house prices increased 32 per cent in the year ended March 31 compared with 15 per cent growth for units over the same period.

CoreLogic said house price growth is slowing faster than units and Mr Roubicek predicted that Brisbane apartment values will rise by “at least” another 15 per cent in the next 12 months.

Mr Roubicek said rising construction costs have hit the new apartment market hard and that comparable established stock costs about 25 per cent less.

“There have been several examples of new developments achieving pre-sale [targets] only to have developers refund deposits and tear up contracts because building costs escalated to a point where it was financially unviable,” he said.

“As a consequence, developers who are looking to acquire new development sites are forced to increase their projected sales prices by around 20 per cent.

“Just 18 months ago a two-bedroom apartment in Brisbane might have sold off the plan for $9000 per square metre.

“But to build that apartment today the developer would need to achieve a sale price of $11,000 per square metre for the project to stack up.”

He said as result new stock is selling slower than established units, a trend that will play out through the rest of this year.

“The market is coming to terms with those newer prices and are seeing in the short-term better value for money in the established unit market.”

He said it is a similar scenario to when GST was introduced in 2000.

“When GST came into the market overnight the cost of housing went up 10 per cent and put more demand into the established market, where the prices of stock grew and the difference between new and second hand became narrower.”

Mr Roubicek said he believed the record price gap between houses and apartments will contract through the year.

“If you believe in history, if you believe in charts, and take a long-term view you would have to think that gap is going to narrow because everyone’s talking about affordability, everyone’s talking about interest rate movements,” he said.

“Natural forces will push what would have been a buyer of a detached home back into the unit market because of affordability.”


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