Apartment market lift has Harry smiling

DEVELOPER Harry Triguboff is upbeat for the first time in a year – he believes the apartment market is on the way back.

The owner of the Meriton group yesterday said that his group’s weekly sales had topped 25 apartments.

He said that was in contrast to a December low, as property market confidence plummeted, of six sales.

Meriton was achieving up to 50 sales a week during the 2015-2017 market run.

The group, which has 4616 apartments under construction in Sydney, responded to the market slump that started in 2017 by cutting prices by between 5 and 15 per cent.

“There are now, as they say, green shoots appearing but we’re not getting carried away.” said Mr Triguboff.

“No, we’re not going to suddenly get back to those previous sales highs.

“The dynamics of the apartment market have changed and we have to work with this new situation.

“Yes, the Chinese still are buying but the pace has slowed.

“Investors, young couples and down-sizers are stepping forward and filling the gaps.

“It’s pretty clear that the worst (of the down market) is over.”

Mr Triguboff said both bank and non-bank lenders were ‘more helpful’ to buyers than they had been for a long time.

“Meriton’s was filling the lending breach for many buyers during the banking royal commission hearings but things have turned.

“The buyers not only can get finance elsewhere, but when our loans to them expire they’re having little trouble refinancing.

“This is very reassuring to both domestic and offshore buyers, who underpin our pre-sales.”

Mr Triguboff said the more positive approach by lenders also had resulted in a halving in the number of buyers who were unable to settle their contracts on new Meriton apartments.

He said the more positive sales experience had encouraged Meriton to release new projects at Parramatta, Macquarie Park and Mascot and that ‘positivity’ appeared to be reflected elsewhere.

“I was in Newcastle and Maitland at the weekend and had a look around.

“There was strong buying and at prices that were quite bullish.”

James Sialepis, Meriton’s national sales manager, said a prime example of the demand from downsizers was the Lighthouse project, which delivered a new town centre for Dee Why.

“We’ve had 260 sales, with all but a couple of the buyers from within a 10km radius, and down-sizers have been by far and away the major buyers.

“The launch-day prices haven’t changed and re-sales prices are robust.”

Mr Sialepis said the property slowdown had not crimped either rents or tenant demand at Meriton buildings.

“Our vacancy level has continued to sit below 1 per cent.

“We’ve released more than 500 apartments for lease in the initial stages at our Pagewood Green project and all have been taken.

“We’ve had similar success at our Mascot developments and elsewhere.”

/Public Release.