The pandemic did little to deter some of Perth’s most prominent business leaders from opening their wallets for luxury homes.
Border closures and global economic uncerainty would typically create a perfect storm for the property market.
But after scanning Landgate records for 2020, Business News found the upper echelons of Perth’s business community were seemingly unfazed by those conditions, striking a series of multi-million dollar deals for top-end residences across the state’s most coveted postcodes.
The largest of these was the $27.5 million bid for Alan Bond’s former Dalkeith Estate, joining the $57.5 million Mosman Park mansion sale in 2009 (purchased by Mineral Resources founder and managing director Chris Ellison) on the list of Perth’s most expensive all-time residential sales.
Former elite bodybuilder, supplement entrepreneur and Nutrition Systems chief executive Danny Pavlovich and wife Suzie were behind the $27.5 million play for the Dalkeith Estate.
Just months earlier, she had closed the office and placed auctions online, not knowing what to expect from 2020.
“What really surprised me was the speed at which the western suburbs’ residential market recovered,” Ms Fewster told Business News.
“It became clear we were very lucky to be living in one of the most isolated cities in the world.
“Towards the end of last year, there was a large increase in calls from interstate as people decided Perth was the place to be.”
Ms Fewster was also the agent behind the $14 million sale of 140 Victoria Avenue in Dalkeith, bought by Alfonso Pelliccione and his partner.
Mr Pelliccione is managing director of the Ampac Group of Companies, which designs, manufactures and distributes fire detection technologies and emergency warning systems, among other things.
“I see the outlook for both WA and property being extremely bright in 2021,” Ms Fewster said.
“Perth listings are at a 13-year low; interest rates are at historic lows; housing demand is rising from returning locals; the resources sector is on the cusp of another boom and the jobs market is well into recovery.
“As a result of these factors, property prices are expected to rise by 10 per cent.
“The one cautionary thought is the number of administrations and liquidations of zombie businesses that will hit the newspaper headlines in March-April this year, which has the potential to shake confidence.
“All in all, I am bullish on the western suburbs housing market.”
Mr Pavlovich and Mr Pelliccione join a number of Perth’s prominent business elite who have bought luxury homes in 2020.
Mark Barnaba, a deputy chair at Fortescue Metals Group and a Reserve Bank board member (and previously the West Coast Eagles Football Club chair), paid $8.5 million for a cliffside Mosman Park mansion on Saunders Street.
The home was previously owned by Malcolm Steinberg, the founder of Timezone.
Land developer Nigel Satterley was another vendor, selling his property on Johnston Street for $5.7 million, just over $2 million more than what he paid in the early 2000s, according to CoreLogic.
Also in the neighbourhood, former Shell Australia boss Zoe Yujnovich, along with her partner, paid $8 million for a four-bedroom, five-bathroom residence on Riverview Place.
Late last year it was announced Ms Yujnovich would move to an overseas post with Shell. However, she has since been tipped as a possible candidate to replace outgoing Woodside Petroleum chief executive Peter Coleman.
Alan Tribe, who sold out of his South Australian and Western Australian IKEA franchises in 2017 for $170 million, was another local tycoon to buy into the area; his company, Lex Pty Ltd, purchased a property on St Leonards Street in Mosman Park for $4.85 million.
Buxton Resources non-executive chair Seamus Cornelius is believed to have also bought a lavish Mosman Park residence, securing a home on Johnston Street for more than $4 million.
Meanwhile, along the coast, Perth businesswoman Katrina Burton traded in her Cottesloe home on Nailsworth Street for a property closer to the beach, paying $7.1 million for a modern house on Torrens Court.
Ms Burton is a solicitor and director of several private sector and government boards and is a non-executive director of the EON Foundation, a non-profit group that delivers food and nutrition-focused health programs to indigenous communities.
Closer to the city, gaming and technology entrepreneur Laurence Escalante, founder, CEO and chair of VGW Holdings, acquired a property along the South Perth Esplanade for $7.5 million.
Mr Escalante is believed to have pocketed about $35 million worth of dividend payments from VGW over the past few years, with the company posting a net profit after tax of $71.9 million for the year to June 2019.
Another property to have attracted a sizeable sum in 2020 was 6 The Esplanade, Peppermint Grove, with a price tag of $9.65 million.
The buyer of the riverfront property was undisclosed.
Western Suburbs agent William Porteous, founder of William Porteous International Properties, said he was receiving a lot of interest from both local and overseas buyers, either looking to return to WA or wanting to set up shop.
As a result, some deals had been conducted off market, he said.
“We’ve been in the market a long time and done well for the last few years,” Mr Porteous said.
“2019 was double what we did in 2018, and 2020 is bigger than that.
“People have realised how good Perth is.”
Mr Porteous said the momentum had continued to build into 2021, most recently managing the sale of 42 Jutland Parade in Dalkeith for $10.3 million, which he said was a cash offer.
The buyer’s identity was undisclosed, but the sale is expected to settle by the end of this month.
Vivien Yap, a Ray White principal who primarily oversees the Dalkeith and Claremont markets, said 2020 had largely been a COVID waiting game; wanting to buy and sell at the ‘right’ time.
“There seems to be a standoff from stock being released into the market ... it’s created this pent-up demand,” she said.
“So that’s what caused this red-hot market for people looking in the western suburbs, especially in the blue-chip areas of Dalkeith and Claremont.”
Ms Yap said a recent weekend viewing of a character home on Chester Road in Claremont attracted a crowd of about 150 people, with a contract signed days later.
“I’ve never had so many enquiries before and during Christmas, and in January,” she said.
“It’s such a good market; it’s about time.”
Ms Yap’s highest transactions for 2020 included 25 Circe Circle, Dalkeith, which sold for $5.1 million; the $4.75 million off-market sale of 11 Allenby Road, Dalkeith; and 2 Baldwin Avenue in Mount Pleasant ($4.3 million).
Ms Yap said increased interest from Asia-based buyers had also influenced the uptick in demand, as had the growing pool of disposable income in Perth.
“Perth is still affordable and has room to grow in terms of pricing, available land and future-add value to the property,” she said.
“People also can’t travel ... so there’s more disposable income available for investments or (home) upgrades.
“And when they’re looking at upgrading their lifestyle, they’re spending money on properties in Margaret River, Dunsborough and Yallingup.
“WA is going to be their playground; it’s no longer Japan or Europe.”
South West sales
An Eagle Bay property, which fetched $6.5 million, was one of the top regional house sales for 2020.
Sold by Stocker Preston Dunsborough, the three-bedroom house is located on a 2,243-square metre lot on Picquet Close and features 31 metres of beach frontage, with private access to Eagle Bay.
Like with the western suburbs, it’s expected more South West homeowners will test the waters as sale stock continues to tighten.
Other top South West sales to have settled in 2020 included a $4 million Eagle Bay house on Kestrel Street and a $4.2 million purchase of a two-hectare property on St Alouarn Place in Margaret River.
The $3.96 million sale of 18.94 hectares along Injidup Spring Road in Yallingup is another standout.
The land was bought by the couple behind Baillie Lodges, a high-end tourism business with a portfolio that spans destinations including Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest and British Columbia’s Vancouver Island.