There’s a lot to like about Duncan Schieb. For a start, when I hit him up for a donation to look after our local medics earlier this week he’d already made one, and physically dropped off 50 meals to our frontliners the week before. I’d been out-charitied and I liked it.
He’s also a father of four and one of those citizens with roots in every corner of the Beaches. “I played AFL for a short while,” I tell him in our first casual chat together. “I help coach the local junior AFL team!” he responds enthusiastically. He continues to rattle off a list of impressive local commitments. ‘How does this guy have any time to sell houses?’ I think to myself when the adage “if you want something done ask a busy person” settles my curiosity.
It also helps when houses are moving on the Northern Beaches market in just 22 days, rather than the usual 100. And that’s why we are having this chat together, to talk about what he’s been witnessing in the local real estate scene.
Why are we talking about Duncan?
Duncan Schieb’s past life working the philanthropic scene in New York is more enthralling to me, so too his journey from a stock and station agent – let’s call that auctioning cows – to selling luxury properties, art, auto and other valuable assets to high-end buyers around the world.
But we can dive into those topics should he sponsor a sequel – today it’s about houses. Through his partnership with luxury property expert Knight Frank, Duncan Schieb is fast becoming the go-to guy in prestige property on the Northern Beaches, and he’s keen to talk about what he is seeing.
I didn’t ask him what price affords the “prestige” property tag on the Northern Beaches. I fear the answer. Most of us do. But for a lucky few, the current market dilates the pupils and quickens the breath. It’s almost a lottery win – unless you need to buy another house in the area soon after the sale.
Anyone living on the Beaches is already living the lucky life, whether that’s in an apartment, a bungalow, or a granny flat up the back. But some of us, some fortunate few, have homes that really knock your socks off. And, these days, knock the rest of your kit off too.
Depending on what side of the property fence you’re on, the market on the Northern Beaches has become outrageously good or outrageously bad. What most of us are keen to know is, how much more outrageous will it get?
A recap on the local market
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, which is looking like a good fiscal option right now, you already know that the property market is obscene. Prices in the region have skyrocketed by 37% over the last year.
Why? Many factors, Duncan explains, but one is “the rise in long-term home-working giving the area a dramatic boost in appeal.”
What this means in the frankest of terms, is that it no longer matters that we have woeful transport links, because none of us are forced to go anywhere. And sometimes, it’s illegal to attempt it.
“No longer thought to be too far from the CBD, people can enjoy the beauty and lifestyle of the region, while happily commuting a couple of times a week if necessary. Transport into the city isn’t one of the top points on the wishlist, anymore.”
East-siders for life are, as a result, widening their postcode parameters.
“Buyers from the eastern suburbs can pick up a palatial beachfront home in the Northern Beaches for a fraction of the price – and they’ve been selling up and trading up. A growing number of people are now considering living permanently in the Northern Beaches for the first time. This, plus an increase in part-time residents and second homes, has driven unprecedented prices in the region.
“The demographic of buyers is shifting”, he adds. “so too the length of time it takes to bring a sale to fruition. It ordinarily takes an average of 100 days to sell property in Palm Beach, but in this market residences are trading on average in 22 days.
Duncan sold a prestige property at 30 Morella Road Whale Beach recently before it even went to market. It was an overseas vendor.
“Traditionally, prestige property purchasers on the Northern Beaches’ waterfront market were looking for a holiday home but with working from home now more commonplace instead of 80 per cent of the market being driven by weekender buyers, they now make up about 50 per cent of the buyer pool with residents increasing in prevalence.”
And we all know who to blame (or thank)
The pandemic has a lot to answer for. Much of the demand in 2021 has been particularly driven by Covid-19, which has reinforced how desirable waterside living is. Many people have re-evaluated their lives during repeated lengthy lockdowns, with buyers focusing on quality of life, open space and natural living.
About 56% of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) are more likely to buy a house in a resort or coastal area due to Covid-19, according to The Knight Frank Waterfront View 2021 Property Market Review. The Knight Frank Wealth Report Attitudes Survey found these areas were very clearly the most popular locations across the globe.
Waterfront suburbs like Avalon, Balgowlah Heights, Bayview, Bilgola, Church Point, Clareville, Clontarf, Coasters Retreat, Collaroy, Cottage Point, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Elvina Bay, Fairlight, Freshwater, Great Mackerel Beach, Killarney Heights, Lovett Bay, Manly, Mona Vale, Morning Bay, Narrabeen, Newport, North Curl Curl, North Manly, Palm Beach, Queenscliff, Scotland Island, Seaforth, and Whale Beach have all been enjoying incredible price growth.
In the space of ten days in November 2021 buyers paid record prices along the Northern Beaches. Around $17 million was reportedly spent on a designer home in Seaforth – a new record for the suburb; meanwhile locals spent $8.65 million on an architect designed house in North Curl Curl – the second highest sale in the suburb; and Fisher St in Balgowlah Heights saw its street record broken not once but twice.
In September 2021 at least seven prestige properties changed hands including a well-known oceanfront house at 339 Whale Beach Rd in Palm Beach that was snapped up in just eight days for a record-breaking $12m. The three-bedroom Art Deco-style white house is on the most easterly point of Palm Beach and Whale Beach and has uninterrupted views up and down the coast.
The property is something of a landmark for sailors with its distinctive style, white exterior and clifftop position. Other big sales included 3 Canara Plat $6.38 million, 869 Barrenjoey Rd for $5.9 million and 1a Iluka Road which sold for $5.2 million.
What’s the forecast?
It will be interesting to see what the coming year brings for property prices and demand in the year ahead. “Demand doesn’t look to be drying up any time soon, though the enormously elevated prices are less likely to continue into next year,” Duncan said. “Let’s wait and see.”
No doubt a sight better enjoyed by those with a view.
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This is a sponsored article to provide support for Manly Observer’s ongoing work in the community. Big thanks for Duncan’s support this month.