The secret weapon for selling prestige property
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The secret weapon for selling prestige property

Developers, architects and agents are turning to contemporary Australian art to make their properties stand out from the crowd

By Dee Jefferson
Wed, Mar 20, 2024 9:16amGrey Clock 5 min

When architect Phillip Mathieson first walked members of Third.i property group through the interiors he had designed for their Kurraba Point “super penthouse”, there were a few raised eyebrows. It wasn’t the million-dollar kit-out of furniture and decor by French luxury brand Liaigre that was disconcerting his clients — it was the art. Not the Brett Whiteley linocut of a dove, or the intricately patterned larrakitj (memorial pole) by Yolngu artist Malaluba Gumana, but the yellow mirrored work by young queer artist Tay Haggarty, which appeared to be pinioned to the wall by four white socks.

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Mathieson, whose architecture firm was charged with the interiors for all 24 residences in Third.i’s new Sydney Harbour-side development (including 21 harbourfront apartments and two sub-penthouses), was given free rein on choosing the art for the penthouses, and engaged the expertise of Artbank: a governmental body whose collection of more than 10,000 Australian artworks spans from the 1920s to now, all available to lease. In the super-penthouse, the selection includes a monumental work in black Belgian marble by the late Melbourne artist Joel Elenberg (who smashed the sales record for Australian sculpture in August 2023 with a similar work, which sold for $925,000) and a mix of abstract and figurative works by significant artists such as Bronwyn Oliver and Marion Borgelt.

Architect Phillip Mathieson at the Kurraba Penthouse. Elton John was recently suggested as a possible buyer for the property, claims which were firmly denied by his representative.

Amongst these, Haggarty’s piece stands out: “It’s quite a controversial piece to have in there, given that it’s a very high end development,” says Artbank consultant Carey Corbett, who worked closely with Mathieson Architects to select the works. “I imagine the expected clientele is not so familiar with their work, being a younger artist — and possibly not the sort of artist that some of those prospective buyers would have in their homes.” 

But Haggarty’s piece, titled Sun on Bare Back, provides a moment of delicious, cheeky dissonance within the elegant surroundings.

Tay Haggarty’s Sun on Bare Back is a controversial choice, Artbank consultant Carey Corbett says.

It’s the kind of memorable moment designed to cut through at the top end of the market. 

As Mathieson says: “Quite often what happens when there’s a display suite for a project, or even when a project is finished, either it’s left empty or it’s furnished with rental items, and you end up with a bad reproduction poster on the wall; it’s all very generic. The Kurraba project was unusual in that the developer, I think partly because of the market that they were going after and the calibre of the location and the apartment itself, saw the value in buying furniture -— and therefore the natural extension of that was to fully provide the experience of how someone might live. 

“The art is part of that.”

Lachie Gibson, founder and CEO of Melbourne developer ANGLE, agrees. His outfit prides itself on providing a holistic package of high quality location, architecture, landscape and interiors — and he sees art as a “crucially important” extension of that. ANGLE champions Australian creatives, partnering with emerging talent (including furniture designer Thomas Lentini, before he broke into the big league) and local heroes such as Dinosaur Designs, design firm Flack Studio, commercial galleries and Artbank, to create distinctive interiors for their high-end residential developments, including the multi-award-winning Fenwick, in Kew.

“We’ve had success over the years  selling off the plan, but at the end of a project you might have a $6 million penthouse [not yet sold] and so you’re styling it for sale — and the difference between the kind of generic property stylist that the real estate companies use and partnering with someone like Artbank, is huge,” Gibson says. 

Even when apartments are sold off the plan, ANGLE typically brokers relationships between buyers and interior designers, who will then do a full furniture and art fit out. “Obviously it’s awesome for the client — it elevates their space and makes it feel incredible. But also for us as a developer, the photographs of those completed spaces become almost our number one marketing tool,” Gibson says. 

“It’s pretty easy to go and render something up, but having a built space that’s got amazing artwork is hugely advantageous to us.”

For their latest development, Fenhurst, ANGLE is partnering with Artbank to select hero pieces for the common areas, and with Melbourne gallery Daine Singer for apartment artworks — which will be shown in marketing renders, but available to see in the flesh (and purchase) from the developer’s Harold Street Gallery: a multi-purpose space in Camberwell that was designed by Fleur Sutherland and showcases ANGLE’s regular collaborators alongside a rotating selection of pieces from Artbank and Craft Victoria.

It’s not just developers harnessing art for a competitive edge. When Simon Hakim, CEO of creative agency Hunter, and his wife decided to put their stunning home “Rail House” in Melbourne’s Northcote on the market, they knew they needed art for the massive walls in their central living area. 

“Over the years, we’d been talking about putting artwork up there, and had a built-in rail installed specifically for art [but] we couldn’t ever decide on what we liked,” he says. Then a neighbour introduced Hakim to Artbank, which has short and long-term and annual leasing plans that range from $165 to $5500 per annum.

“It was a really good way to test out the art wall — and to see massive works that we were able to display [on the rail] but couldn’t afford,” Hakim says. 

In the end, they leased a series of prints by photographer Bill Henson. 

“It filled an empty void; it made a huge impact on the house. [And] we had a lot of comments about the work [from prospective buyers],” says Hakim.

Bill Henson’s Untitled 36/105

Sydney property agent Georgia Cleary, of McGrath Paddington, says there’s an increased appreciation of art across the market these days, and in the prestige end of the market in particular: “People will pay tens of thousands of dollars to style their properties, and you can’t put prints into those homes.” 

McGrath generally asks stylists not to put art on the walls, and instead partners with local artists and galleries to select high-end pieces. “We’ve found that the market responds really well to original works [rather than reproductions or prints],” says Cleary. “It elevates the perception of the property as ‘prestige’.”


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Australia’s top 10 most affordable regional property markets investors should watch

Whether you prefer the country or the coast, there are plenty of east coast options for cashed up buyers

By Bronwyn Allen
Fri, Apr 19, 2024 3 min

There are 10 local council areas scattered along the East Coast of Australia that offer both affordability and solid fundamentals for sustainable future growth, according to the research team at residential property network, PRD. The areas have been selected based on five criterion. They are affordability – defined as a median house price below $600,000, rising house values, strong rental yields to encourage investment, a strong pipeline of residential, commercial and infrastructure projects to facilitate local economic development, and low unemployment.

Here are Australia’s 10 most affordable regional property markets with great future potential.

Mackay, QLD

Mackay is a tropical coastal area located in north Queensland. It’s known for its closeconnection to the Great Barrier Reef. The median house price is $462,750, up 8.9 percent in 2023. Mackay attracts a lot of interstate migrants and is home to more than 120,000 people. It has a healthy economy with an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent and $1.7 billion worth of projects due to commence this year.

Toowoomba, QLD

The Toowoomba median house price was up 10.9 percent in 2023.

Toowoomba is located west of Brisbane and is known for its Victorian buildings, street artand surrounding national parks. The median house price is $560,000, up 10.9 percent in 2023. The city has a population of more than 180,000. The unemployment rate is 4 percentand there is $6.1 billion in projects commencing in 2024.

Townsville, QLD

Townsville is a coastal city in north-eastern Queensland. The median house price is $420,000, up 5 percent in 2023. It is home to more than 200,000 people. Unemployment is very low at 2.5 percent and there is $3.2 billion of projects commencing this year.

Dubbo, NSW

Dubbo is located west of Newcastle in the Orana Region and is home to the Western Plains Zoo. The median house price is $530,000, up 11.6 percent in 2023. The population has exploded in recent years to more than 56,000 people. The unemployment rate is just 2.2percent and the economy is thriving. There is a pipeline of $4.7 billion in projects commencing this year.

Tamworth, NSW

Located in north-east NSW, Tamworth is known for its popular annual Country Music Festival. It’s also the largest retail centre for the New England and Northwest Slopes regions. The median house price is $490,000, up 14 percent in 2023. With a population of more than 65,000 people, the economy is strong with unemployment of just 2 percent and $112.4million worth of projects commencing this year.

Griffith, NSW

Located west of Sydney and northwest of Canberra, Griffith is known for its prime produce production and wine cultivation. The median house price is $531,000, up 2.1 percent in 2023. Griffith’s population is about 27,000 people. The city boasts high economic resilience with a 2 percent unemployment rate and $258.7 million in projects in the pipeline.

Ballarat, VIC

Ballarat, Victoria

Ballarat is a 1.5hour drive west of Melbourne. It’s popular with city commuters who move here for housing affordability and a relaxed lifestyle with easy access to the city via train. The median house price is $570,000, down 4.2 percent in 2023 but up 92.9 percent over the past decade. The city has the third highest population in Victoria at about 118,000. Ballarat has an unemployment rate of 3 percent and a total projects pipeline worth $2.3 billion for 2024.

Shepparton, VIC

Shepparton is a rural area about two hours north of Melbourne. It is popularly referred to as the food bowl of Australia. The median house price is $475,000, up 4.4 percent in 2023. The population is about 70,000. The unemployment rate is just 2 percent and there is $1.8 billion in projects for 2024.

Wodonga, VIC

Wodonga is located on the border of NSW on the southern side of the Murray River. It is approximately 320km from Melbourne and 345km from Canberra. The median house price is $567,250, up 4.7 percent in 2023. With a population of about 44,000, the city’s jobless rate is 3 percent and there is $388.2 million in development set to commence in 2024, primarily new infrastructure.

Burnie, TAS

Burnie is a bustling port city located in Emu Bay in Tasmania’s north-west. Overlooking beaches and parklands, the area is known for its rich agriculture and mining projects. The median house price is $435,000, up 3.6 percent. Despite a rising population, the unemployment rate is falling and is currently 5.6 percent. In 2024, Burnie’s project pipeline is valued at approximately $1.6 billion. A significant portion is commercial development, primarily renewable energy projects.


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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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