The sale of Windsor’s Lachlan Court building to a Chinese buyer is part of a trend happening around the Hawkesbury.
The $9.5m figure achieved was only possible by marketing it overseas, selling agent David Lee from Leaders Estate Agents at Gladesville told the Gazette on Thursday.
“Local developers could only come up with $6m,” he said. He said the previous owner of the building had drawn up draft plans for a four-level, 110-apartment building which the new owner was interested in.
“But they don’t plan on doing anything for two or three years,” he said. “They wouldn’t start now – the market is not right at the moment.” He said overseas buyers were often more able to hold properties for some years until the market was right, “more like a land bank”.
The business also sold 23 acres on Rickards Road at Agnes Banks to a Chinese buyer in October 2016 for $2.6m. Mr Lee said it would fetch more than that now. He expected that block to be developed soon, probably into four or five blocks.
Bennett Property has also taken advantage of the Chinese interest in Australian properties, starting a China desk with an agent who speaks several Chinese languages and has Chinese contacts.
While agent Michael Bennett agreed it “was scary” having overseas people buy up a lot of Australian property, his job as agent was clear. “We have to look after our sellers.”
He said it was the government’s job to stop too much foreign investment. “We can’t stop it. We act for the sellers.”
He said while the government had recently tried to put a brake on investors leaving a property unoccupied by imposing a $5000 annual charge, “$5000 is nothing on a $2m sale”.
Foreign buyers are also not allowed to buy up more than half the units or homes in any new development and have to pay application fees of between $5,500 and $100,400 on properties worth up to $10m.
Mr Bennett said these things weren’t enough to stop Chinese buyers as Australian prices were still significantly cheaper than prices over there. He said back in May that apartments in Shanghai were 25 per cent dearer than the equivalent in Sydney.
“Chinese buyers at auction tend to win,” he said.
While he said “It would be nice for the government to protect our future for our children and grandchildren”, he said he found Chinese buyers good to do business with.
He said foreign investors often hold on to their purchases in hope of changes in rezoning or value. “A lot of Chinese have bought in Londonderry with a 10-year plan for future subdivision. There’s a lot of speculation, so it’s great for sellers.”
He said many Chinese buyers were locking in properties around Riverstone, Marsden Park and Schofields as well, with many being rezoned from rural to residential or medium density. He said those locations were fetching $1.5-1.8m an acre, depending on what they were zoned.
“Some Maltese farmers in Marsden Park have been achieving once in a lifetime money – between $5m and $30m for their properties.”
Rural areas that hadn’t been rezoned yet on the outskirts of these areas were also experiencing a flow-on effect in values. “Llandilo, Berkshire Park, Oakville are going through the roof,” he said, being sold on the expectation that they would be rezoned soon enough. He said the same thing was going on at Penrith and in the south, around Camden and Badgerys Creek.