After starting a marketing firm at the age of 20, and running it for 15 years, Nicolette van Wijngaarden founded Unique Estates Australia in Byron Bay in 2009. The company has a staff of 42 and seven offices, including those in Byron Bay, Sydney, Melbourne, The Gold Coast and Hong Kong. Ms. Wijngaarden has also recently launched a yacht and jet charter division.
She splits her time between a home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs near the harbour, a city apartment on the Yarra River in Melbourne and an apartment on the Gold Coast beach. “They’re each beautiful and unique,” she said.
We caught up with her to talk about the best emerging markets, luxury real estate’s increasingly high quality and more.
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
NVW: My dream property is spacious and light filled. It has beautiful expansive views from its elevated position. It has a wonderful entertainer’s kitchen and walk-in pantry.
It has high ceilings and at least two living areas as well as great outdoor entertaining options. It has separate guest and master wings. There is an expansive lawned area and a lovely big pool.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
NVW: Yes! There is a block of land I would have loved to buy four years ago in Byron Bay Hinterland, and am kicking myself that I didn’t. It has the most expansive views of Cape Byron and Mount Chincogan and it has doubled in value in that time.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
NVW: It means bespoke detailing, beautiful craftsmanship and quality of the highest level. It is rewarding, indulgent and it makes you feel truly special.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
NVW: Sri Lanka and other Southeast Asian emerging markets.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market?
NVW: The diversity on offer and the new levels continuously achieved in terms of design and detailing. There is so much wow.
MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
NVW: To choose only one location would be impossible. The best luxury homes are generally in holiday and lifestyle locations, such as the South of France; regional France and Italy; regional locations within an hour or two of international cities—The Hamptons, Lake Tahoe, country England. Within Australia, I would say The Northern Beaches and Southern Highlands near Sydney, Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland, Noosa near Brisbane and the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne. Other stunning luxury homes are located in prestigious suburbs of large International cities.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
NVW: The living room, which overlooks the ocean. We are so blessed to see the whale migrations each year. I also love the sun sparkling on the water.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
NVW: Relaxed elegance.
MG: What’s the valuable thing in your home?
NVW: Of most sentimental value is a bronze sculpture one of my clients scuplted that she gave me. It’s of a Russian ballet dancer and her partner and because she made it, its very special to me.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
NVW: Space and unique features.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
NVW: Don’t design a home for your specific purposes only; always think about resale. Too many people build without this consideration assuming they will never sell and unfortunately that is rarely the case and can make resale substantially more challenging if your personal design elements are not remotely practical to others.
MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?
NVW: The further and continued restriction of foreign residential buyers.
MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?
NVW: Anywhere within two hours of a main city that offers great lifestyle.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
NVW: I think I would have one of each! There are some truly wonderful and exceptional examples of both available on the market.
MG: What area currently has the best resale value?
NVW: Any area with a large proportion of quality property where there is little available for sale…equally anywhere that has a high median house sale price where you can buy and substantially improve the asset.
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