Real Estate News - $29.5m only to knock it down - welcome to Vaucluse (Australia)

THE new owners of Australia's most expensive house are planning to knock it down.

Formerly from South Africa, the Krok family, who made their fortune from cosmetics and casinos, paid $29.5million for Tahiti, a Sydney harbourside mansion at Vaucluse.

News of the demolition comes as new figures reveal the minimum price for a spot on Sydney's quarterly top-10 property sales list has hit $10.5million.

The Krok family's September purchase beat the previous record of $28.7million, set in August with the sale of Routala, a waterfront residence in Wunulla Avenue, Point Piper.

Selling agent and McGrath estate agents chief executive John McGrath said the prestige property market would continue to boom and sales like Tahiti would soon seem "cheap".

Mr McGrath said he could not see any correction looming for the top end of the Sydney market.

Some of the properties being sold now would be worth "50 to 100per cent more" in the next four to five years, he said. "I would say that that property [Tahiti], without any work done to it, will probably be worth $40 to $50million in the next three years because there's only a handful of them.

"Put it this way, the owners are planning to build a brand new house. They are knocking it down. It just goes to show that an international buyer will pay $30million for land value," he said.

The Krok brothers, Abe and Solly, had asked a high-profile eastern suburbs architect to inspect the property and set aside at least $1million for renovations. It appears the family changed their minds and will instead knock it down.

On 2046 square metres, Tahiti is described by the agent as an "exotic Hawaiian-style residence". It was built in the 1960s by architect Douglas Snelling for the former Woolworths chairman, Sir Theo Kelly.

The property had an extensive eight-month redecoration in the mid-1990s, headed by interior designer Maggi Eckhardt. A giant hibiscus motif in the pool was retained.

The top-10 sales survey by valuers Dyson Austen, to be officially released by the NSW Real Estate Institute on Thursday, includes retail giant Jim Fleming's $15million Palm Beach property and the $18.5million Darling Point record paid for nightclub entrepreneur Barry Wain's property.

"The key to this is first you've got the $28.5million sale and within minutes it's been eclipsed," Dyson Austen director Simon Felich said.

"These sales have set a new benchmark and pricing will move up from there.

"As long as resources are booming, the stock market is moving and the financial sector is doing well, the hunger seen from this type of buyer will continue."

The September quarter also produced a record number of million-dollar plus sales.

In the CBD and eastern suburbs 705 properties sold for $1million plus. During the corresponding period in 2006, 533 properties sold for $1million or more.

Australian Property Monitors housing expert Michael McNamara said the number of million-dollar plus sales had increased in the inner west and North Shore.

There are 74 suburbs in Sydney, including Randwick, North Sydney and Strathfield, with a median house price of $1million or more - nine more than the same period last year.

"The top of the market is doing exceptionally well and that mirrors what's happening in Melbourne and Brisbane," Mr McNamara said.

"Really strong markets are not usually fleeting.

"Vendors will get more than they expect for their sale and they will use that extra cash to fuel stronger purchase prices."

Source: The Sun-Herald

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