2021 shapes up to be the year of the upsizer on the upper north shore

The upper north shore property market is out of the blocks early in 2021, and all signs are pointing to this being the year of the upsizer.


Downsizers are also expected to make a strong showing, with agents reporting that more owners of big, long-held estates are moving to sell this year – news that will be welcomed by buyers desperate to see more stock come to market.


Record low interest rates and a COVID-led trend towards larger, more lockdown-friendly family homes has proved an unexpected bonus for the leafy upper north shore, which ended 2020 on a high, having notched up a handful of new suburb sales records.It’s hard to believe that less than 10 months has passed since we were introduced to the concept of international and state border closure, household lockdowns and mandatory quarantines.


Life as we knew it before then has radically changed as we adjust to a world with COVID in our midst. It was the year that we threw away the real estate market handbook.


And it was also the year that many homeowners took stock of where they live, how they live and decided big changes were needed.


At the end of March, 2020, NSW Parliament passed the so-called “COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement” law, which limited public gatherings to two people and ordered people not to leave their homes without “reasonable excuse”.


Of course COVID had been on Australian shores for more than two months by then, the first confirmed case identified in Victoria, in a man who had returned from Wuhan, China, largely accepted as ground zero for the international pandemic that has caused more than 2.05 million deaths. Confirmed cases edge closer by the day to 100 million.




As non-essential services closed their doors overnight back in March, politicians warned of the tough times ahead, for individuals, businesses large and small, and the economy, doomsters were quick to predict that the property market would crash and burn.


Thankfully the worst did not happen, however there is no question the property market took it hard in the first few weeks of lockdown. Listings plummeted, auction clearance rates fell to their lowest in years, and buyers disappeared almost overnight. Public open houses and auctions were banned, replaced by private and virtual inspections, and online auctions.


While agents were quick to adapt, many were faced with the grim prospect of laying off staff or even closing their doors. In May the ban on auctions and open homes was lifted, but buyers and sellers were still nervous.


Tom Scarpignato, of Belle Property Cammeray, was among them. After 13 years running his successful business he was at a loss in the early days of the pandemic.


“In March and coming into April I thought I was going to be closing my business, I thought I was done for,” he said.


“But then in May I sold three properties and had a few good auctions in June and July and I started to think things might be okay.”


Spring arrived without the usual fanfare and flurry of buyers, and with stock still low, activity stalled again. One thing was crystal clear – this was a market like no other. Rather than the seasonal ebbs and flows of a typical market, it had become a seesaw of ups and downs, where conditions could turn on a pinhead. Throw in a recession and record low interest rates and the market was like a yoyo.


On the upper north shore, agents started to see a steady stream of buyers coming from all over Sydney, particularly the inner west and the eastern suburbs. After months of working from home, juggling home schooling and periods of lockdown, they wanted more space.


The grand homes that are the hallmark of the area, in recent years overlooked as too big and too maintenance-intensive for many buyers, were back in vogue.




Sprawling estates with tennis courts, swimming pools, room for the children to run, and houses with plenty of room for home offices and multiple living spaces were high on the wish lists of buyers. Stock levels didn’t keep up with the growing demand, and impressive sales followed.


Suburb house sale records tumbled in parts of the upper north shore, notably in Turramurra and Lindfield, where the records were smashed by millions.


Among these was the sale of 31 Ku-ring-gai Ave, Turramurra, which sold under the hammer for $10.125 million. It shattered the previous record set in 2016 with the sale of 41 Ku-ring-gai Ave for $6 million, CoreLogic data shows.


31 Ku-ring-gai Ave, Turramurra.


The lavish home was sold by Lynette Malcolm, of Chadwick Real Estate Ku-ring-gai, and Tim Fraser, of Di Jones North Shore – Wahroonga. Ms Malcolm said it was a massive vote of confidence in the area, and had inspired other owners of large estates to consider selling.


“Downsizers have the confidence to move forward with a sale,” she said.


This news will be music to the ears of buyers, many of whom are struggling to find purchase options.


“Stock is starting to come on, but it is the lowest stock I have seen in January in my career in real estate,” Ms Malcolm said.


She said the mood among buyers and sellers had definitely shifted.


“Everyone just seems positive because it’s now 2021, I think there’s a lot of hope and positivity out there,” she said.


She has just listed another beauty at 65 Ku-ring-gai Ave, Turramurra, this one a renovated five-bedroom home on 2928sqm with championship tennis court and heated pool. At its first open she showed more than 20 groups through and issued seven contracts.


65 Ku-ring-gai Ave, Turramurra.


The property is due to go to auction on February 18 with a guide of $6.5 million, although Ms Malcolm has not ruled out bringing the auction forward given the level of interest.


Sellers in particular have every reason to be positive. The latest Pain and Gain Report from CoreLogic shows sellers from suburbs in all of the upper north shore local government areas (LGAs) made a profit when they sold in the September 2020 quarter.


In the Willoughby LGA, 94.1 per cent of all sales were made at a median profit of $585,000; in North Sydney, 94.8 per cent made a median profit of $460,000; in Hornsby 92.8 per cent made a median profit of $493,500; in Ku-ring-gai 94.8 per cent made a median profit of $877,500; and Lane Cove, 87.4 per cent made a $305,000 median profit.


Jo-Anne Bratton and her husband Clint are among those looking to sell as well. They are also upsizers, and bought a home in Naremburn in October last year. COVID played a big part in wanting to move their young family from their three-bedroom apartment at 10/110 Bay Rd, Waverton into a house.


Northside Real Estate Cover  TBC

Happy family – Gemma, Annah, Jo and Clint Bratton at their new home in Naremburn. Picture: John Appleyard


They were unperturbed about buying before selling – a move once regarded by many as a no-no in the book of real estate golden rules.


“Waverton is such a hot spot and we just know and love that property so much, we just know it’s going to sell,” Ms Bratton said.


The couple have owned the apartment for 10 years, and during that time done significant renovations, including opening up the living/dining and kitchen, flooring and a new integrated laundry.


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“There’s nothing else we can do to this apartment and we really needed some more space, another bedroom and an extra living space,” she said. “We would have loved to stay in Waverton, but we love Naremburn – we have a park across the road and grand plans for the house.”


10/110 Bay Rd, Waverton.


Mr Scarpignato is planning to take the apartment to auction on February 6, with a price guide of $1.85 million. About 40 groups inspected the home at its first open and within days he was fielding offers.


“I’m feeling quite good about the market, stock is a bit tight but the buyers are out there,” he said.


“Barring a lockdown I think the market is going to go from strength to strength this year.”


Realestate.com.au’s chief economist Nerida Conisbee said the north shore market was shaping


up for an impressive year of sales.


“Prices are already accelerating, and the upper north shore had a very good year last year,” she said.


“COVID has definitely led buyers to look for bigger homes on bigger blocks, and the north shore has become very sought-after.”


Ms Conisbee said data from realestate.com.au searches showed a 150 per cent increase in the number of views for properties with price guides of $10 million or more.


“The way that people are working now has fundamentally changed and they are focusing on lifestyle rather than proximity to work, particularly if they only have to go into the office a couple of days a week,” she said.


Realestate.com.au’s chief economist Nerida Conisbee.


She said there was no doubt this was a seller’s market, and she cautioned sellers against automatically thinking off-market deals were the way to go.


“Make sure you go through a competitive selling process – auctions are the way to go in a hot market,” she said.


Auctioneer Vic Lorusso has been a regular face at upper north shore auctions for more than 10 years, and agrees it is a seller’s market at the moment.


“I think there’s going to be a big shortage of good quality stock on the market and there’s a plethora of buyers,” he said.


“I talk to a lot of agents and there’s 50 and 60 people at opens and it’s still very early in the year. Fear of missing out is definitely back in the market.”



Auctioneer Vic Lorusso.


He has already held a number of auctions on the north shore, and strong turnouts give him confidence in this selling process, particularly in a hot market. He believes prices are definitely on the rise.


“If you’re not out there telling everyone about your home, how can you get the best price?” he asked, adding some advice for bidders wanting to edge out the competition.


“Be the first bidder, be the loudest bidder and let everyone know you are out there to buy the property,” he said. “And if you are ready to go and the property ticks most of the boxes go for it – you’d hate to be sitting back in June/July and thinking you should have bought at the start of the year when it looked cheap.”


Article sourced from Realestate.com by Amanda Sheppeard