07/03/2006 - 21:00

Dunsborough’s cultural shift

07/03/2006 - 21:00

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Dunsborough’s growth from sleepy seaside town to the playground of Perth’s elite has forced local real estate agents to change their businesses models to better deal with their new clientele.

Dunsborough’s cultural shift

Dunsborough’s growth from sleepy seaside town to the playground of Perth’s elite has forced local real estate agents to change their businesses models to better deal with their new clientele.

The median house price at December 2005 for Dunsborough was $490,000, well above Perth’s $325,000, and there have been several recent sales over $4 million for beachfront property.

The commercial property market is also blossoming on the back of the residential sector.

With 15 years of real estate experience in Dunsborough, agent Joe White has formed a new firm, attracting former FPD Savills sales director and principal licensee Alan Jones and tourism veteran Michael Mort as principals of JMW Real Estate.

Mr White said he had worked with Mr Mort for three years and that his former practice, White McMullen, was growing into areas where it did not have enough experience, requiring the skills of someone such as Mr Jones.

“We couldn’t stop growing, but also couldn’t do the best job as the business was [structured]; the place is becoming more sophisticated and we couldn’t deliver on all fronts,” he said. “There are now three major shopping centres here and a number of smaller ones, and the growth of Dunsborough has meant an increasing amount of leasing and commercial sales.”

Mr Jones said he moved to Dunsborough last year, seeking the sea-change lifestyle after buying a block in the area seven years ago.

“Joe’s practice was expanding and they needed someone with expertise they didn’t have,” he told WA Business News.

“I have a commercial base historically, and that is limited down here, but there is definitely scope for expansion in the commercial and industrial areas in the region.

“The property market is very diverse compared to Perth and quite unique; there is short-stay accommodation, dwellings, rural/residential properties, commercial and industrial, wineries, exclusive home sites and rural holdings.”

Mr Jones said the strength of the residential market was shown by JMW’s recent sale of a beachfront house in old Dunsborough for $4.1 million. An adjacent 895 square metre block is understood to have sold for $4.16 million – $4,648 a square metre.

Mr White said the money coming into Dunsborough during the past six months was all from Western Australia, with a mix of people using the town as their primary residence or holiday home.

“A lot of people are buying with the view to live here long term, so it is not such an easy distinction to make,” Mr White said.

“I am totally convinced that owning here is not considered a luxury good; it is where people aspire to spend their time, and when things get tough, people will get rid of their Perth residences before they get rid of their houses down here.

“It is an agent’s nightmare when the market reaches a plateau, there is absolutely no turnover.”

There are three distinct markets in Dunsborough, according to Mr White, the super prestige, the semi prestige and entry level.

“The super prestige properties are selling for multiples of millions and sales are strong and likely to get stronger,” he said. “Semi-prestige is hard to get hold of for under $1 million, and anything beachfront is going for $2 million plus.”

Mr White said the growing popularity of the area had led to a population shift, which made it difficult to find cleaners and the like, while much of the first home buyers market had been excluded.

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