Home Looking in Australia: A Transformed Salvation Military Corridor in Sydney

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House Hunting in Australia: A Converted Salvation Army Hall in Sydney

This three bedroom house is located in Leichhardt, a dense suburb three miles from the central business district of Sydney, Australia. The building, built in 1916, was originally a hall of the Salvation Army. The current owners remodeled the property around 1997, making sure to retain the original facade and interior details out of respect for the neighborhood's long history, said Ben Southwell, a sales representative at Cobden & Hayson who has the listing.

"They didn't want to peel off the fabric that had been dropped in the area," Southwell said. "Even after they moved in, people kept giving donations under the door for a while."

The 2,874-square-foot home on roughly one-tenth of an acre property doesn't have the long list of amenities typically found in properties at this price point. Rather, Mr. Southwell said, "You pay for the house's nostalgia and uniqueness. There just isn't anyone else on the street."

The main entrance under the original sign of the Salvation Army opens to the main hall, which serves as a combined living, dining and office space. The 20-foot decorative plaster ceilings are original in the hall. The owners covered the floors with American oak.

The kitchen across the hall is on the former stage and elevated above the living area, Mr. Southwell said. A long island with granite can accommodate four people. An antique sledge hangs above, which now serves as a pot rack. There is a standard gas stove and a double refrigerator on the back wall.

Two French doors on one side of the hall open to the garden courtyard, which has a wooden deck, stone patio, fish pond and built-in gas grill. The garden is also accessible through a pair of iron gates to the street.

A wing added off the hall has a master suite on the lower level and two bedrooms above. The main suite has a large bathroom with radiant heat under a porcelain floor, a double vanity with two sinks, a walk-in shower and a round bathtub. The adjoining office space, which can be opened up to the courtyard, could be converted into a fourth bedroom, Southwell said.

Two bedrooms on the upper level, one of which has a small balcony overlooking the courtyard, share a large bathroom.

The property is on a corner lot on Carlisle Street, one block from Norton Street, Leichhardt's mall and restaurant line, Southwell said. The suburb, about eight miles inland from the southeast coast of Australia, has strong Italian roots from the late 19th century and has long been known for its authentic Italian cuisine. While dining options are now more diverse, the annual Norton Street Italian Festa celebrates the area's Italian heritage every October.

Leichhardt is less than 15 minutes from Sydney CBD and around 25 minutes from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, depending on the time of day.

The real estate market in Greater Sydney – the capital of New South Wales and Australia's largest subway area with around 5.3 million residents – was "in a state of increasing positive momentum," said Louis Christopher, managing director of SQM Research, Sydney. Investment Research House. "The prices rose annually by 7 to 9 percent."

That dynamic, which followed a couple of years of falling prices at the national level, stalled with the pandemic. In the second quarter of 2020, seven of Australia's eight capitals saw residential property prices fall, with Melbourne (-2.3 percent) and Sydney (-2.2 percent) seeing the largest falls, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. However, prices were still 6.2 percent higher than in the previous year.

In Sydney, some centrally located properties lost 8 to 10 percent in value as buyers' tastes shifted to less dense areas, Southwell said. Since the Australian government began easing Covid-19 restrictions in May, prices in Sydney have risen again, albeit slightly, by 0.3-0.7 percent, he said.

A two-bedroom apartment in Sydney's CBD that would have sold for about A $ 1.4 million ($ 1.02 million) before the pandemic is now selling for just under $ 1.2 million ($ 876,000) said Christopher.

At the same time, as in many cities around the world, the vacancy rate in Sydney has skyrocketed, according to SQM data. The 4 percent rate in May was more than double the monthly average for at least 2005. In the CBD, nearly 12 percent of rents remain empty, and rents are falling from an average of Australian dollars ($ 730), according to Christopher. a week for a two bedroom to 710 ($ 520).

Much of the drop in rental activity is due to an exodus of international college students during the pandemic, said Michael Pallier, executive director of Sydney Sotheby & # 39; s International Realty. However, sales of high-end properties near Sydney Harbor remain strong, thanks to both record-low mortgage rates and the interest of returning expatriates.

Also in line with global trends, suburban and rural areas have seen spikes in buyer interest within an hour or two of the city. Mr. Pallier called it "a psychological thing".

"The first wave after the pandemic was," I have to buy toilet paper. "Wave two was," I have to escape a dense population, "he said.

Rural prices "have gone straight through the roof," Southwell said. “The agents there have never been so busy. Everything sells like in the middle of the central business district. "

Australia closed its borders, restricted interstate travel and imposed strict lockdowns at the start of the pandemic. These measures appear to have contained the virus successfully. The country's borders remain closed to all but Australian citizens and residents. On Monday, the border restrictions between New South Wales and neighboring Victoria, which was the epicenter of Covid-19 cases in Australia and were locked in late October, were lifted.

According to the New York Times' coronavirus world map, Australia had reported 27,847 cases of Covid-19 and 907 deaths on Nov. 24.

"We're pretty much back to normal here in Sydney," said Christopher. “People go back to restaurants with some capacity constraints. But overall, life is mostly back to normal. "

Foreign buyers are few this year due to the country's border closings, agents said. However, demand from expatriates has increased as many have decided to return home amid the pandemic, Pallier said.

Due to the political unrest there, his office continues to see interest from Chinese buyers as well as buyers from Hong Kong.

"Sydney is in demand when times are tough," he said. "It's a safe haven."

Foreign buyers are only allowed to buy an existing home in Australia if they are temporarily resident and plan to use it as their primary residence. You can buy new apartments without starting a residence. Every purchase must be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

More than half of all properties in Sydney are auctioned. Buyers typically have a four or five week window to view a property before it goes up for auction. The process makes sense when the demand is high. Mr Pallier said, "When you know you are going to have a lot of bidders, we generally auction a property as this is a great way to get fair value."

Buyers usually hire an attorney or freight forwarder to handle a transaction. The broker's commission of 1.5 to 2 percent is paid by the seller.

English; Australian dollars (1 Australian dollar = $ 0.73)

Stamp duty is payable on all property purchases. The prices vary depending on the state and are staggered according to the sales price. In the state of New South Wales, interest rates start at 1.25 percent and rise to 7 percent for values ​​above 3 million Australian dollars (2.2 million US dollars). Foreign buyers have to pay an additional 8 percent surcharge.

The council tax on this property is A $ 483 ($ 353) per quarter.

Ben Southwell, Cobden & Hayson, 011-61-407-896-212; www.ch.com.au.

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