Sydney’s ‘collectible homes’ are attracting discerning buyers

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In Sydney’s overheated property market, discerning homebuyers and investors with deep pockets are increasingly on the lookout for homes with a style and history that sets them apart from others in the same block. Such buyers might be looking for standout homes designed by well-known architects, or homes that have gained fame due to ground-breaking design or amenities.

“People just love finding something different to an ordinary cookie-cutter kind of house,” said Louisa Jackson, agent at Langulin Realty. She’s currently selling the iconic White House at 9 Forbes Street in the suburb of Paddington. The home has been described as one of “inner-city Sydney’s most … culturally significant architectural homes,” and was featured in Vogue Living when it was first unveiled in 1987.

“A lot of houses these days feel the same, but we’re finding purchasers are looking beyond them; they’re looking for something unique, something individual, something they won’t see anywhere else,” Jackson told the Domain Group.  

It’s this same hunger for superior pedigree that’s driving the sale of an Ed Lippmann-designed home at 12 Burraneer Avenue in St Ives. The home is famed for its towering glass walls, which frame the bushland setting next to Garigal National Park. The home also has a north-facing entertainment deck, a swimming pool, and landscaped native gardens.

“[The home is] like anything designed by Harry Seidler,” said Jonathon Stone, agent at Forsyth Real Estate. “It’s rare, it’s one of a kind, and the fact that it’s been built right into the landscape … It can’t be repeated.”

According to Anthony Puntigam, property specialist at Phillips Pantzer Donnelley, connoisseurs of modern architecture will always race to snap up a home designed by a visionary they admire.

Other collectible homes fuse older and more contemporary elements. “They may have beautiful ornate features, like pressed metal ceilings, but then they may have been transformed into something that’s very liveable,” Puntigam said.

He referenced a home in Chesterfield Parade in Bronte, which has a restored original façade from the late 19th century bolstered by a modern addition behind. This home sold for nearly $5m in early 2015, after a staggering 300 groups turned up for inspections.

While there will always be a market for standard homes in growing cities like Sydney, collectible homes that were designed by renowned architects or boast great design are bound to attract a more discerning set of buyers. “I think there’s a lot of stuff that’s stock standard but if you can get something special – in a positive way – that makes it really popular,” said Nigel Mukhi, principal at McGrath Neutral Bay. “There’s much less of them around to choose from.”

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