This is screenshot of a luxury Australian property website which can only be accessed using an IP address based outside of the country.
It is run by Simeon Manners, an estate agent that has sold hundreds of millions worth of property to “China’s most astute buyers and investors”.
The practice of selling luxury Australian property exclusively to overseas buyers was reported on by The Australian today, and comes just after the International Monetary Fund released data showing Australian house prices were among the most expensive in the world.
Richard Simeon, a director of the agency, says most of his Australian clients with properties listed on the site are interested in securing a discreet sale, and the best price for their property.
“Some people are very secretive about it,” he told Business Insider, “they don’t want it bandied about, or going stale.”
The Simeon Manners agency recently oversaw one of the largest Sydney property sales of the year, finding a buyer for a $15.6 million mansion at 21 Carrington Ave, Mosman. It was purchased by a European family who contacted the agency while they were still overseas.
The website carries all the properties available to the public in Australia, as well as the exclusive offerings, and Simeon says it is usually the vendor who insists their home be restricted.
Simeon also said that, while overseas investors make up an increasing proportion of the market, they are often outbid by cashed-up local buyers. Overseas buyers bid on three of his latest big-ticket sales, and succeeded in one, he said.
These are not the sort of properties first home buyers will be interested in, but it raises an ethical question over whether it is appropriate to offer Australian homes exclusively to overseas clients.
The overseas site pictured says it “offers the best Sydney waterfront properties with boating facilities, tennis courts, unobstructed harbour views and easy access to all of Sydney’s unique attractions.”
Australia’s Foreign Investment Review board, according to the report in The Australian, has not prosecuted a case against an overseas buyer, who are not allowed to buy established property — except in rare circumstances — unless their are permanent residents, since 2010.
Simeon said all his clients have well-resourced legal teams and would only entertain a purchase if they were certain they could legally buy the property. “We always ask people ‘if you inspect the property, are you in a position to proceed’,” he said.
House prices have come down slightly, but they are still inflated after a prolonged period of record-low interest rates, and huge demand from investors, who — if they are Australian — can take advantage of negative gearing legislation.
But Simeon does not see an ethical issue as listing the houses exclusively overseas provides a valuable service to his clients, making sure they get the best possible price, which could become reduced if the domestic market was aware the property was listed for some time, especially since there is limited local demand for properties of the calibre which would interest overseas buyers.
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