Malvern East buyer dobbed in to FIRB was Australian citizen: Marshall White

Malvern East buyer dobbed in to FIRB was Australian citizen: Marshall White
Malvern East buyer dobbed in to FIRB was Australian citizen: Marshall White

The crusading Melbourne buyer’s agent David Morrell has been told his suspicions regarding the $2.75 million sale of a Malvern East home were misplaced.

Following the 20 September auction, Morrell lodged a complaint with the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) asking it to investigate what he believed had been a breach of FIRB rules.

But John Bongiorno, director of Marshall White, has advised the buyer was an Australian citizen.

He said Morrell was being divisive.

“Just because someone does not look Anglo-Saxon does not mean they are not Australian,” Bongiorno told the Australian Financial Review.

Morrell told the FIRB he believed the buyer of 23 Coppin Street (pictured above) was a Chinese national or someone representing a Chinese national who could not understand the auctioneer.

“If they were not allowed to bid, the property would not have sold at this level. Therefore this sale clearly distorts the market,” Morrell wrote.

The four-bedroom 1980s home sold for $2.75 million at $350,000 above its reserve when three families, two represented by buyer's agents, bid on the house.

The bidding began at $2.3 million when sold through agents Anthony Reis and Madeline Kennedy of Marshall White.

Last week the Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer, who chairs of the parliamentary inquiry into the impact of foreign investment on Australian residential real estate, signalled that she proposes hefty fines for estate agents, lawyers and accountants who organise illegal purchases under FIRB rules.

Morrell had previously lodged a submission to the inquiry stating real estate agents and property lawyers were willingly helping foreign investors to illegally buy prestige homes in Melbourne and Sydney while the FIRB took no action.

He claimed estate agents, whom the FIRB relied on to report illegal foreign buyers, were looking the other way in return for higher commissions, citing a recent Toorak auction, where the reserve was exceeded by 30%.

"There were three Chinese nationals competing, neither spoke English or understood the process and literally just kept their hands in the air,” he suggested. 

Morrell has previously warned Chinese nationals were "picking the eye teeth" out of the property market.

“The FIRB is there to prohibit non-residents paying serious money for housing but they are not doing it effectively and only react to complaints – their complaint is they do not know until a settlement who the real buyer is, even if it is a 19 year-old student who spends $3 million on a block of land."

Foreign Buyers

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