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Returning Expats and Local Buyers Boost Sydney’s Super-Prime Market, Says Knight Frank Partner

Ms. van Tuil with renderings of Crown Residences at One Barangaroo, a hotel-branded luxury development in Sydney.


Erin van Tuil on waterfront homes, changing buyer tastes and more

Erin van Tuil began her career with Knight Frank in January 2007, and worked across Prime Central London on the firm’s Knightsbridge, Riverside, Kensington, Hyde Park and Marylebone teams. Since then, her work has spanned the U.K., Australia and Asia, and she became a partner in Knight Frank in 2013.

In 2014, Ms. van Tuil, 39, transferred to Knight Frank Australia in Sydney, and currently holds the position of Partner, Crown Residences at One Barangaroo, a project with Crown Resorts that will see the development of Australia’s first fully integrated hotel-branded residences. There will be 82 residences, 349 hotel rooms, 14 signature bars and restaurants and retail locations, too. 

The One Barangaroo development is currently under construction, with a completion date of early 2021.

Ms. van Tuil’s experience spans large-volume property portfolios, off-plan sales, and high-net-worth, ultra-high net worth (UHNW) and high-profile individuals.

We caught up with Ms. van Tuil to discuss Sydney’s strong super-prime market, the upside of waterfront properties in the Australian city, and more.

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Mansion Global: How has the Sydney high-end market been affected by Covid so far?

EVT: We’ve been seeing some good results actually. I think we can put that down to Sydney’s fundamentals. We increased the number of super-prime sales in the beginning of 2020, to 15 from 13 in 2019.

Between March and June 2020, Sydney saw a 33% increase in super-prime average transaction value compared to the same period in 2019—to US$16.8 million (A$24 million), up from US$12.6 million.

This highlights Sydney as a top spot for investment. It offers a great lifestyle, transparent government, and transparent rules; strong health care, too, which matters more than ever.

There’s been consistent interest in people from Asia, and we’re seeing more expats returning home.

With our borders being closed, that’s stopped people coming in, which affects transaction rates for Asian buyers. So at the moment, expats and local buyers are fueling the high end.

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MG: Do you expect buyer tastes to change as a result of Covid-19?

EVT: Knight Frank recently released the Global Buyer Survey, and 66% of respondents said large gardens and outdoor space are more important; 64% said home office, 52% said greater privacy is more important. In Sydney, 40% of ultra high net-worths are looking to buy a home on the waterfront.

At One Barangaroo, we have 82 super-prime apartments right on Sydney Harbour, absolutely catering for a lot of those changes. Catering to really good, workable spaces; the ability to work from home; and we’re surrounded by parks.

Buyers have full access to the hotels—two pool decks, tennis courts, spa and gym. Barangaroo is a brand new area, and it’s a real lifestyle opportunity.

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MG: Are Sydney residents buying country homes the way we’re seeing other city residents do?

EVT: What we’re seeing is people evaluating their lifestyles and what’s going to work best for them. We’re not seeing people leaving the city in droves, and we’re not seeing a change in demand for apartment living. When people get a holiday home, they want it to be one where they’re able to drive there instead of fly.

But Sydney will always see demand, especially for harborfront. Knight Frank had a Global Waterfront Index, and homes on Sydney Harbour had the largest premium—at 89.3%. There’s only ever so much.

MG: How do you define luxury in real estate?

EVT: It’s a combination of elements—incredible architecture, amazing interior design, location,  quality of finishes, services and amenities. Wellness is really important, too. Eighty percent of UHNW are dedicating more time to health and wellness. And Sydney ranks seventh in the world for health and wellness. And since Covid, it’s evolved—it’s not enough to have an hour a day you spend at the gym or the pool. It’s about every part of your lifestyle. Where we live contributes to that.

MG: What's your favorite part of your home?

EVT: I have a two-bedroom townhouse, and my second bedroom was a guest room. But I’m not expecting any guests, so I’ve converted it into a sunny, warm study. The dogs have their beds in there now.

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