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Published 25 September 2012 06:52, Updated 27 September 2012 06:40
On the move ... This year’s Victorian crop of the Young Rich bayside Brighton to traditional Toorak. Luis Ascui
Five years ago, heads turned when a young man clad in ripped jeans, T-shirt and thongs arrived at a house auction in Sydney’s prestigious Bellevue Hill. He arrived late but promptly outbid the nearest offer by $1 million to claim the lavish mansion as his own.
The price was more than $5 million, which is not at all uncommon in the suburb heavily populated with some of Sydney’s oldest and richest families. Heads turned though because, back then, Bellevue Hill was not the obvious choice for a 30-something IT genius with money to burn. Bondi or Surry Hills would have been more predictable.
Today, however, real estate agents and buyers say a wealthy young couple are as likely to buy a mansion in Vaucluse or Mosman as an older couple are to buy a penthouse in Potts Point.
The managing director of McGrath Realty, John McGrath, says that over the past five years the old rules where age or generation dictated real estate preferences have been rendered irrelevant.
“The lines are blurred more than they ever have been,” McGrath says. “The stereotype of a young couple buying a beachside apartment in Bondi and an older couple downsizing to a unit in Kirribilli, is a bit old. Their lifestyle preferences have merged so essentially they both want the same things.”
This is particularly evident with new developments. McGrath says that a decade ago, new developments clearly fell into a particular demographic category but as the lifestyle preferences of the young are meeting the old, it is not nearly as clear cut.
“Baby boomers are very interested in the infrastructure and lifestyle available in younger suburbs,” McGrath says. “The [Harry Seidler] Horizon building in Darlinghurst is a perfect example. It was built and targeted at young professionals working in the city but we are now seeing older clients move in there.”
The ability to walk down the street to have breakfast or pop out to any number of restaurants for dinner or meet a friend at the nearest wine bar is extremely attractive to all demographic categories. And, McGrath says, increasingly the reality is that parents and children, generations apart, are now frequenting the same cafes and restaurants.
“Surry Hills was once considered a fringe address whereas it is now very popular with people over 60,” he says. “There are certain suburbs that are still very popular with the young rich, like Bondi, Paddington and Surry Hills, but baby boomers and empty nesters are also looking for a more dynamic place to live so those suburbs appeal to them as well.”
But when it comes to the BRW Rich 200 and the BRW Young Rich there is still a difference in their preferences. The Rich 200 who reside in Sydney most commonly count Darling Point, Mosman and Vaucluse as their suburbs of choice, while their younger peers prefer the inner-city suburbs of Darlinghurst, Paddington or Woolloomooloo.
The golf haven of Hope Island, on the Gold Coast, is the luxurious address favoured by Queensland Young Rich members. The jacaranda-lined streets of the Perth riverside suburb of Applecross appears to be the favoured domicile for those from West Australia.
Victorian Rich 200 members traditionally have flocked to large palatial residences in Toorak, while this year’s crop of the Young Rich are choosing Hawthorn and Brighton.
The director of Melbourne buyers’ agent, James Buyer Advocates, Mal James, says it is not at all surprising. “It’s logical because the two main private school belts in Melbourne are Hawthorn and Brighton and there are lots of family homes nearby,” James says. “People spending $3 million who are in their 30s either have families or want families and other areas don’t have the schools and bigger blocks.”
For Melbourne-based Young Rich member and ispOne managing director Zac Swindells, that is precisely why he and his wife moved to Armadale from the inner western suburbs.
“I lived in Williamstown for 20 years,” he says. “That’s my history, it’s where I grew up and it’s where my family are but we moved to Armadale because of schools for our daughter.”
Swindells attended a public school and says the choice between public and private schools is a political minefield but he wants to provide his daughter with the best education he possibly can, even if it means a move across town.
“I prefer the west because it’s where I feel the most comfortable but for the sake of my child and commute it makes a big difference for us to be here,” Swindells says. “Some people would say it’s Toorak but we don’t.”
James says it is common for younger buyers to shy away from a Toorak address but they don’t end up too far away.
“Lots of older people buy bigger blocks in Toorak and while younger people don’t want so much to be seen in that wealthy set, they might move to Hawthorn or Armadale or South Yarra but generally speaking it’s still within cooee of their parents.”
And, with good reason.
“It’s where the good properties are,” James says. “Good properties depend on position and position doesn’t change. People focus on buying a good value home and most people understand the money is in the land.”
While suburb preferences don’t really divide them, James says younger buyers have different priorities when it comes to the actual house.
“Older and younger buyers like the same sorts of areas but they like different sorts of properties,” James says. “Younger buyers want a nice home but a modern floor plan is particularly important and light is a big issue. Light, flow and space, proportion is very important and in that regard for younger buyers it is more about the house than the location.”
Sydney buyers’ agent Amanda Segers agrees.
“I recently had a client in his 20s who bought in Lane Cove, which I wouldn’t have necessarily expected from someone his age,” she says.
“He wanted something that would impress his friends and was near the water and Lane Cove happened to have the right house.”
For young families, Segers says Roseville and Lindfield are very popular for the same reason as Hawthorn and Brighton. “It’s the schools,” she says. “For anyone with kids, the upper north shore is hugely popular.”