Former treasurer Joe Hockey seeks Chinese buyer for his $8m Hunters Hill mansion

JOE Hockey is trying to flog a Hunters Hill mansion to Chinese buyers in an ironic twist for the federal treasurer who crusaded against foreigners entering our housing market.

The Australian ambassador to the US once even referred a neighbour to the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Mr Hockey and his investment banker wife Melissa Babbage have listed the $8 million “Te Roma” federation house on the Chinese website myfun, which showcases prestige Australian listings in Mandarin.

The ¥40 million offering provides contact details in China to take buyer queries on the historic 1905 home before a March 1 deadline.

Questions put to Mr Hockey’s office at the Washington embassy went unanswered yesterday. The former treasurer, like other prestige Sydney sellers, may find it hard to score a great price as the market has cooled, with local buyers facing reduced competition from foreigners.

The slowdown across most markets was largely caused by tightened regulatory measures and higher taxes on foreigners established during his reign as federal treasurer.

The Hockey listing, which comes with $8 million plus hopes, appears on the Chinese website, myfun, which showcases prestige Australian listings in Mandarin. Source: myfun

In 2013, Mr Hockey said he would establish a register of foreign nationals buying real estate and those who break the law would face fines up to a quarter of the value of the property and could be forced to sell.

He said foreign ownership of real estate “raises significant issues ranging from national security to potential criminal activity”.

The plush dining room of the Hunters Hill home. Source: myfun

Mr Hockey referred a Chinese neighbour to the FIRB. The property developer had bought a heritage home that dated back to 1857.

“I referred one of my own neighbours for investigation and found out that, yes, they had got approval but on pretty spurious grounds,” Mr Hockey told talkback radio at the time.

Those “spurious grounds” were proposed renovations approved by the local council before the neighbour’s purchase.

“It was a kilometre down the road and they bought a property on the basis that … they were going to add to the housing stock by building a granny flat out the back or something, and I thought ‘that’s ridiculous’.”

Mr Hockey’s agent said there had been limited foreign interest in the modernised four-bedroom home. Source: myfun

Mr Hockey’s Sydney listing agent Brad Pillinger said that there had been limited foreign interest in the modernised four-bedroom home on 1400sq m.

It has been filled with styled furniture installed for inspections after being vacated recently by tenants.

Mr Pillinger hoped Chinese New Year tourism celebrations may bring offshore interest.

Mr Hockey and Ms Babbage have upsized to another historic Hunters Hill home, set on almost 2400sq m.

The pair paid about $8 million for Wybalena House, a grand six-bedroom sandstone 1870s residence.


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