RICH PICKINGS: Home, James

A Point Piper street has emerged in a list of top residential addresses in the world at time when Australian house prices are under more pressure than ever before.

Australians might be bracing for a 10 per cent fall in house prices in the next 12 months, but it’s not all bad news for the local market.

A report in Wealth Bulletin this week named the 10 most expensive residential streets across the globe and Australia made the cut, with Wolseley Road in the swish Sydney suburb of Point Piper named the ninth most expensive, with properties fetching $US28,000 a square metre.

Here’s the complete list, just in case you are in the market at the moment (all prices are in US dollars):

1. Avenue Princess Grace, Monaco - $190,000 per sq/m
2. Severn Road, Hong Kong - $121,000 sq/m
3. Fifth Avenue, New York City - $80,000 per sq/m
4. Kensington Palace Gardens, London - $77,000 per sq/m
5. Avenue Montaigne, Paris - $54,000 per sq/m
6. Ostozhenka, Moscow - $40,000 per sq/m
7. Via Suvretta, St Moritz - $38,000 per sq/m
8. Carolwood Drive, Los Angeles - $30,000 per sq/m
9. Wolseley Road, Sydney - $28,000 per sq/m
10. Altamount Road, Mumbai - $25,000 per sq/m

While the accession of Sydney into this rarified company has a little to do with the 20 per cent rise in the value of the Australian dollar against the greenback, Wealth Bulletin’s description of Wolseley Road as Australia’s "ultimate address” is probably not far off the mark.

"Properties on the road have some of the best harbour views of any city in the world, with stunning scenery across to the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House,” the report says.

There’s no doubt Wolseley Road has the highest concentration of wealthy business people in Australia.

Residents include Westfield founder Frank Lowy; car retailer Neville Crichton; Brian White (of Ray White Real Estate); Seven Network executive Bruce McWilliam; recruitment industry leader Andrew Banks; and Aussie Home Loans chief John Symond.

Symond might have claims to having the best – or at least the brashest – house on the street. The four-storey, 2700 square metre pad was designed by multi-award-winning architect Alex Tzannes and features five bedrooms plus staff quarters, two main kitchens, informal dining and living rooms, a home theatre and a cellar. The construction project took four years and cost $40 million, although some estimates value the home at $80 million.

Australia’s most expensive house in terms of recorded sales, Craig-y-Mor (which was once owned by disgraced stockbroker Rene Rivkin) is also located on the street – it was purchased in March this year for $32.4 million by Chinese businessman Jiang Mei. A recent report suggested there is no mortgage over the title.

Another famous resident is the man who one days hopes to become prime minister, shadow federal treasurer Malcolm Turnbull. He moved in 1994, scooping up a pad with his wife Lucy for $5.4 million. Not content with one address, he reportedly bought the place next door in 1999 for $7.1 million.

Maybe he won’t want to move to the Lodge after all.

Getting a sense of how the broader prestige property market will perform isn’t easy. While rising interest rates have had some effect on demand and therefore prices, agents are quick to point out that the people selling prestige properties can generally afford to hold out for the right buyer and are less likely to be forced into accepting a discount.

Recent sales would seem to indicate that the market is holding up, even if the number of sales has decreased slightly. It seems wealthy buyers are still willing to spend up big for that perfect home.

Last week, a non-beachfront home sold on the Gold Coast for $9 million and a Coffs Harbour mansion went for a massive $11.5 million – smashing the previous best Coffs Harbour sale by more than $9 million.

In Melbourne, businessman Murray Winstanley has paid $8 million for one of the biggest homes in the suburb of Hawthorn. In Adelaide, a 15-room mansion in the leafy suburb of Springfield recently went for $4.2 million.

And while any fall in interest rates could help spark a bit more life in the prestige market, there is one dark cloud on the horizon.

Late last week, a council in Victoria knocked back plans for six homes on the coast at a place called Tooma on the grounds that global warming made approving the plans too much of a risk.

While rising sea levels are unlikely to threaten beach houses at Lorne, Palm Beach or Noosa in the near future it is something that prestige property buyers are going to have to factor into their thoughts – and perhaps even their budgets – in coming years.

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We couldn’t let the week go buy without mentioning the incredible wealth creation story of Silicon Valley-based Aussies Ryan Junee, Julian Frumar and Simon Ratner, who sold their online video service Omnisio to YouTube for a reported $US15 million last week.

Incredibly, the trio only launched the service – which allows users to edit video from YouTube and Google – just five months ago. Takes you back to the golden days of the dot-com boom, doesn’t it?

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