13/02/2007 - 22:00

South West allure remains

13/02/2007 - 22:00

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The state’s South West has long been the playground of choice for the suits on the terrace. They have, over the years, bought beach shacks and either embarked on massive renovations or demolished and rebuilt.

The state’s South West has long been the playground of choice for the suits on the terrace. They have, over the years, bought beach shacks and either embarked on massive renovations or demolished and rebuilt.

Down south, once-sleepy hamlets are now lined with rows of mansions, and the money pouring into the region is most evident in the Margaret River township, which, with the arrival of US giants Gloria Jeans and Subway, is looking more and more like Rokeby Road, Subiaco.

Michael Chaney has taken breaks at his holiday home in Eagle Bay for years, but is building his second holiday home – an expansive private residence next to Heritage-listed Wallcliffe House on Wallcliffe Road in Margaret River.

Other high-profile businessmen such as John Poynton, Nigel Satter-ley, Adrian Fini and former GRD chairman Brett Fogarty also retreat to the South West. So too does WA’s chief justice, Wayne Martin QC.

But others, like Rio Tinto’s Sam Walsh, have simply opted to rent a holiday home (see page 20).

Renting or owning a luxury holiday home offers a different kind of break to that experienced at a five-star resort. There’s plenty of room for the family, with most houses boasting five bedrooms and at least three bathrooms.

Most holiday homes for rent are within a stone’s throw from the beach and there are no interruptions from house keeping if there’s a late start to the day planned.

According to realtors, the luxury home rental market is booming, largely due to Western Australians, cashed-up from the economic boom, taking short breaks in the region.

The number of wealthy tourists visiting in the area is also growing.

Jennings Hopkins property manager Lee Edmundson said some of the properties he managed were booked out up to two years in advance.

“I have bookings for the Christmas break in 2009,” Mr Edmundson said. “Almost all of our properties are booked out for Christmas for 2007 and 2008.”

He said the bulk of renters were from Perth but there were also people living in country WA taking a seaside break, as well as strong contingent of international travellers, particularly from Singapore.

And the international tourists who rent lavish homes often become buyers.

Private Properties principal Rosie Harris said about 10 per cent of homes on her books were owned by people overseas, with this number growing as more of those who came to holiday fell in love with the area and decided to buy a property.

Ms Harris said private holiday homes had been in vogue in Europe for decades.

This month’s Chinese New Year period was one of the agency’s busiest periods, she said, with families from both Singapore and Hong Kong arriving for at least a week.

And the number of luxury holiday homes becoming available for rent is growing, according to Mr Edmundson. His agency added a further 10 properties last year to take its portfolio above 60.

In part, gaining income from rent can offset hefty land tax bills, which have jumped significantly off the back of soaring property values.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia reveal that the average price of a home in Eagle Bay is $2 million, which attracts an annual land tax bill in excess of $20,000.

That’s about the equivalent of one month’s rent in the peak summer season.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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