INTERVIEW: MONIKA TU, Founder / Director Black Diamondz Group
Where her Chinese-focused business is headed given ongoing COVID constraints.
Where her Chinese-focused business is headed given ongoing COVID constraints.
Monika Tu doesn’t mince words. Nor does she carry any passengers.
How else to explain what is now a rather well-worn tale – a story, hers, that details a Chinese immigrant who landed in Australia from Shenzhen in 1988 without any English.
She studied, claimed an RMIT scholarship and subsequently turned a basic market stall into a successful international electronics business. She’s since found incredible acclaim — and arguable dominance — as a property agent within Sydney’s tightly-held prestige property market.
There’s more to her work than simply opening residential doors — helping to forge and foster cultural and community links for her largely immigrant (predominantly from China, Middle East, Europe) client list, alongside arts philanthropy and an unwavering dedication to each and every day.
We caught up with Tu to discuss the difficulties of 2021 — and to better understand the road ahead.
Kanebridge News: There’s an incredible resilience that seems to frame the Sydney prestige market – but how difficult was 2020 in regards to your business and key clients?
Monika Tu: Obviously, Covid-19 had huge impacts on many businesses last year and ours was no exception. The restrictions on international travel hit us hard, however, we saw a surprising rise in local Chinese buyers wanting to buy a property quickly. People may think that most of our buyers are international. However, that’s not the case and many of these people had been holding out for the ‘perfect’ property — but when Covid hit they relaxed their expectations slightly because their main aim was to secure a property.
KN: And how do you view the road ahead?
MT: I see the market continuing to do well. The prestige market will always follow a different trajectory to the general market, but I don’t see things slowing down. With the influx of movie stars and wealthy individuals wanting to call Australia home, there’s only one way prestige property is going, and it’s up.
KN: There’s a belief in some economic quarters that things must naturally end, and soon.
MT: People have always said this, even prior to the pandemic. But Sydney and Australia’s prestige property market is robust, resilient, and has proven itself repeatedly. As long as Australia is seen as a world-class lifestyle destination, people will always be willing to pay.
KN: What was the allure of property that made you start Black Diamondz?
MT: If I’m honest, it wasn’t so much the allure of property that made me start Black Diamondz. It was the gap in the market of servicing the multitude of high net-worth individuals, predominantly from China, who were looking to call Australia home. Some agents were more than capable of finding them a great property but could not open other doors such as schools, lifestyle, business opportunities, networking, and philanthropy. This is the gap that I knew I was able to fill.
KN: How did you get your start in the prestige market?
MT: Black Diamondz really started by chance. There were a lot of conversations at the dinner table about new migrants searching for luxury homes, but a lack of services or guidance for them when it came to making decisions. One of my friends had a friend from China looking for a property and was having no luck with local real estate agents. I took him for a drive around Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and just asked him what type of house he liked. He picked one, I knocked on the door and the owners said it was not for sale. Fast forward five days later and they sold it for $13.5 million. That is when I realised the need for this type of service was out there and took full advantage.
KN: Does the size of the deal you’re working to close ever intimidate, or is it something that drives you?
MT: For me it’s never about the size of the deal. I treat a $5 million apartment with the same work ethic that I treat a $50 million home. For me it’s all about giving my clients, both buyers and sellers, the very best experience possible.
I love smashing records, like selling Sydney’s most expensive home in 2019, but those things don’t happen every day and if that’s what drives you, you won’t last long in real estate.
KN: What do you think gives Black Diamondz a competitive edge?
MT: On the surface, it’s our proven ability to achieve consistent, market-leading results over the past ten years, as well as our international database. But deeper than that is our standing within the community. I know almost everyone in Sydney, and I have nurtured these relationships over the years. This is the key to a successful real estate business — your network and influence.
KN: You’re a self-confessed workaholic, is that a necessary mindset to achieved success especially in the market you work?
MT: I think the entrepreneurial mindset I have is what has made me successful — not only in real estate but in life. I never stop working but I also don’t see it as work, it’s my life and it’s what I do day in, day out.
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Data reveals house values have continued to decrease, but the rate has slowed as the RBA Board prepares to meet next week
House values continued to fall last month, but the pace of decline has slowed, CoreLogic reports.
In signs that the RBA’s aggressive approach to monetary policy is making an impact, CoreLogic’s Home Value Index reveals national dwelling values fell -1.0 percent in November, marking the smallest monthly decline since June.
The drop represents a -7.0 percent decline – or about $53,400 – since the peak value recorded in April 2022. Research director at CoreLogic, Tim Lawless, said the Sydney and Melbourne markets are leading the way, with the capital cities experiencing the most significant falls. But it’s not all bad news for homeowners.
“Three months ago, Sydney housing values were falling at the monthly rate of -2.3 percent,” he said. “That has now reduced by a full percentage point to a decline of -1.3 percent in November. In July, Melbourne home values were down -1.5 percent over the month, with the monthly decline almost halving last month to -0.8%.”
The rate of decline has also slowed in the smaller capitals, he said.
“Potentially we are seeing the initial uncertainty around buying in a higher interest rate environment wearing off, while persistently low advertised stock levels have likely contributed to this trend towards smaller value falls,” Mr Lawless said. “However, it’s fair to say housing risk remains skewed to the downside while interest rates are still rising and household balance sheets become more thinly stretched.”
The RBA has raised the cash rate from 0.10 in April to 2.85 in November. The board is due to meet again next week, with most experts still predicting a further increase in the cash rate of 25 basis points despite the fall in house values.
Mr Lawless said if interest rates continue to increase, there is potential for declines to ‘reaccelerate’.
“Next year will be a particular test of serviceability and housing market stability, as the record-low fixed rate terms secured in 2021 start to expire,” Mr Lawless said.
Statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week also reveal a slowdown in the rate of inflation last month, as higher mortgage repayments and cost of living pressures bite into household budgets.
However, ABS data reveals ongoing labour shortages and high levels of construction continues to fuel higher prices for new housing, although the rate of price growth eased in September and October.
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