Rising tide of interest out west

The Australian Financial Review – Special Report – SEASIDE AND WATERFRONT PROPERTY 

The sleepy holiday town of Mandurah is blooming writes Miriam Hechtman.

The appeal of Mandurah, on the West Australian coast just south of Perth, is on the rise with price tags on luxury apartments now easily exceeding the $1 million mark.
Just 74 kilometres from Perth and with a new railway line and an extension of the freeway in the works, this seaside town is set to become a lot easier to get to.
Mandurah is no longer just a day-tripper destination and with property investors and home buyers discovering the town, the already high prices for waterfront apartments are expected to continue to increase.

“Anything that’s on the water is extremely popular at the moment,” says Elders Real Estate Mandurah partner Renee Hardman. She says that given Mandurah’s advantageous location in the Peel Inlet there are many options for waterfront apartments, be they facing a canal, estuary, beach or river. Hardman says on average, apartments have gone up $100,000 in the past year, with units on the estuary selling for between $525,000 and $850,000. Last summer, she says, an apartment sold for $590,000. This year, a similar unit in the same complex sold for $850,000. In Port Mandurah, a canal block of land just sold for a record $3.6 million. Australian Burean of Statistics figures show that Mandurah’s population increased from 54,300 to reach 58,600 in 2003-04.

Cape Bouvard Investments recently lodged a development application for 52 apartments to be built next to the historic traffic bridge in the traditional heart of Mandurah. “They’ll be fairly up-market units,” says the developer’s spokesperson, Steve Hill, “and will have living areas of approximately 150 square metres with panoramic 270 degree views.” A significant proportion of the units are expected to achieve prices in excess of $1 million. “There’s a big mix of product, and certainly apartments is the latest trend,” says Hill. “Sizes are being specifically targeted to those people that will be looking to shift out of their existing dwellings, retain some size but remove the maintenance obligations that go with owning a larger home.”

“I think the phenomenon of luxury apartment living, which is reasonably new in Perth, and is quite strong at the moment in our CBD, will only get stronger in a location like Mandurah,” says Mirvac Fini’s director of sales and marketing Peter Gianoli. Mirvac Fini has various land holdings in Mandurah. The company has secured an ideal location for luxury apartments, the old peninsula hotel site which is surrounded by water. Says Gianoli: “We went to market about a month ago where there were 102 apartments worth $150 million of revenue and they basically sold in two and a half days.” The apartments went for just over $1 million each, with the penthouse commanding $4 million. “We had all these people saying to us we’ve been looking for this type of city-standard luxury apartment being offered in Mandurah,” Gianoli says.

He attributes the boom in Mandurah to a number of factors, one being that the majority of the Perth population have fond memories of the town. “All the country people have always gone to Mandurah for their holidays,” he says. In addition, Mandurah is blessed with good infrastructure including hospitals, schools and universities so “you don’t miss out on much”, Gianoli says.
Part of Mandurah’s appeal is its proximity to Perth, says Cape Bouvard’s Hill, and also that it has capitalised on the vast water playground that exists inside the Peel Inlet and the Harvey Estuary. “Mandurah has evolved in the last decade around those systems,” he says. Both Gianoli and Hill also note the benefit of the infrastructure that is underway. “The freeway extension and the railway line are key drivers for Mandurah becoming more than just a day destination,” says Hill.

Hardman says the rail link is actually encouraging people to look further inland so “there’s a little bit of a change in what people are [searching] for”. “People buying million-dollar canal lots and million-dollar apartments are not particularly the people who will be catching the train,” says Cedar Woods Properties marketing manager Michael Glendinning. “But, of course, all these things have a multiplier effect and I think the development is certainly good for Mandurah.” As a result of two successful beachfront apartment projects in Rockingham, which is the next major centre to the north of Mandurah, Cedar Woods will for the first time develop apartments in Halls Head, a prime beach front on the other side of the estuary. Glendinning says the company is trying to cover another market segment and Rockingham and Mandurah are two outer councils which are more supportive of this type of development.

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