Architectural Elegance Increases Desirability
It is well documented that Sydney is currently experiencing a Real Estate boom. In the last calendar year alone homes across Australian capital cities have experienced approximately 10% increase in property values across the financial year just ended (FY14/15). Ironically there has been a great deal of conversation around the recent increases in property prices but we don’t need to cast back very far to note that this increase is only a reflection of normal cycles. In fact FY09/10 saw increases of 12% and FY01/02 of a staggering 20%. Each of these periods followed periods of flat-line in values and even downturns. FY04/05 and FY08/09 saw values rise by as little as 1% and Both FY01/11 and FY11/12 saw loses of up to nearly 4%. (source: RP Data Sydney’s Housing Market Update July 2015).
Property prices are a hot topic in Sydney and often treated as a focal point of discussions regarding the local area. On the Northern Beaches of Sydney, where homes experience a highly parochial following, and often change hands through buyers that have been raised in the area or lived there the majority of their lives. Australia is unquestionably about living by the sea and the Northern beaches of Sydney, the Eastern Suburbs and Southern Sydney, all reflect this in their desirability and therefore property prices.
In this currently heated market it is buyers that are frustrated and fall victim to the supply and demand model which often helps dictate price increases or decreases in the market place. The current frustration stems from typical buyer activity being met by a decrease in home supply. In my most recent dealings with buyers (July 2015) I’ve received emails, phone calls and SMS’s from buyers all expressing frustration as they’re keen to purchase a home and devastated from having missed out on multiple occasions. It takes creativity in this marketplace to find buyers their ideal home and often an amount of effort to turn someone not interested in selling, to consider adding their home to the limited supply.
WHERE TO PUT YOUR MONEY
It’s often argued as to which form of investment is the best. A portfolio of Shares is often considered more stable and lucrative than homes. But to those not willing or capable of monitoring the activities of company data homes often become the primary source of investment. It’s easy to see why Real Estate is so desirable and often math plays the smallest of roles. In its simplest form it’s the human basic need for shelter which drives desirability, but for those fortunate enough to reside in Sydney then shelter is not enough to drive buyers to frustration or excess expenditure come Auction day. When coupled with factors like local area lifestyle, functionality and features of the home we now also enter into a level of desirability that comes from architectural affluence.
Consider The Seidler House in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, near Bowral. It’s arguably the late Harry Seidler’s most striking residential masterpiece and a direct reflection of architectural affluence driving desirability. Now a holiday let it can be yours for a princely sum of $1,500 per night (as advertised on Contemporary Hotels). It’s outstanding elegance comes not only from being built into the natural rock formation, but the fact that it is dramatically positioned on the edge of a rugged sandstone escarpment, ensuring panoramic bush views overlooking a deep picturesque gorge. The verandah alone standing for everything that architectural affluence strives to achieve.
Recently Greece has been highlighted for all its questionable flaws, but like Siedler’s death defying acrobatics via The Seidler House, Greek firm Open Platform for Architecture (OPA Works) has redefined Seidler’s approach to architectural affluence via “Casa Brutale”, a design that awaits solely realisation – as per their own description. What inspires me most about this home is the fact that it takes a completely undesirable, and potentially rugged environment, and turns it into a majestic and iconic structure that showcases what architectural affluence can achieve for a home.
Seidler stated that in one of his other renowned homes, that of his late mother Rose Seidler (Rose Sidler House), that ‘when [the] house was finished, people used to come in … people were four deep. My mother had to leave the house sometimes on the weekend, because they were all standing around the windows you know, trying to see this incredible contraption’.
Even in a heated market buyers are being stretched to see the unforeseen values to be derived from homes, but as per Seidler’s own recollections, beauty will always draw a crowd. If that crowd happens to be at a home listed for sale, and they are looking to purchase a home of immense desirability, then it’s not difficult to fathom that property prices do what they do. In some years prices plateau, some fall, but witnessing an increase – often attributed to external economic factors – will always be present.
When I think of architectural desirability my heart goes to 219 Princes Highway in Kiama. This is an unrealised, unfinished, potentially iconic gem. Just like The Seidler House and the clifftop home of OPA Works, this home is perched over the high seas and captures vistas which combine sweeping structures embracing its natural landscape and yet enhancing its presence. I dream of one day making my own mark on the world architecturally and these three fine examples highlight why I’d fight at auction and no doubt contribute statistically to reflect yet another upward turn in the market someday.