Harry Triguboff says apartment boom relied too much on Chinese buyers

Harry Triguboff says apartment boom relied too much on Chinese buyers
Harry Triguboff says apartment boom relied too much on Chinese buyers

Australia's biggest property developer Harry Triguboff says Sydney's apartment boom had relied too much on Chinese buyers.

"We depend too much on Chinese purchasers," the Meriton boss said in a letter emailed last month to local Sydney estate agents.

"Foreigners must only be an additional bonus," said the veteran who has overseen the construction of more than 75,000 residential dwellings over the past six decades.

"I don't want us also to depend on high priced foreign lenders to provide the finance instead of our banks."

"We must stand on our own two feet," he said adding this independence was "far away".

"We will have stability," he said when Australia depends on itself.

Triguboff concedes the Chinese played a big part in pushing the property prices up, and says even in the current reduced turnover were still significant buyers.

On the price front Triguboff says "the rapid price fall is slowing down, maybe completely stopped".

"We will only know later," he indicated.

He says everything must be done to ensure that property prices don't drop any further.

"They should rise otherwise, no one will build," he warned.

"If prices fall the economy suffers."

The developer, who employs 898 staff, was motivated to send the letter to estate agents with a desire to generate sales amid negative media headlines.

"We are all talking about Reserve Bank lowering interest rates, but that is only a minor matter.

"Banks must lend, but they do not because they are afraid.

"Now that we have shown where they were wrong (at the Royal Commission), we must encourage them to lend, and use their discretion." 

The optimist developer says young buyers face a wide choice.

"There's no dreadful hurry ...it's not going to jump up tomorrow."

He said Sydney's planning system must also change.

"A lot of the costs are because of the planning system," he said. 

Ahead of the declining property market, the apartment king posted after tax profits of $384 million in the financial year ending June 2017, according to Meriton's latest annual return which was lodged last month.

The $384 million profit was up from the $230 million profits Meriton saw in 2016.

There was $1.7 billion in revenue.

He said buyers and renters "flocked" to new apartment blocks.

"The old blocks with few facilities and in the wrong places will suffer.

"Some of our leaders think that people suffer when we build units.

"That is nonsense. 

"We see even councils who were against units now trying to allow high rise because they are left behind. 

"We must remember the demand for housing is great," said Triguboff who founded the company in 1963.

He says his was not unduly concerned about the low sales turnover in the short term.

"It is so easy for me to lease," he told Channel 9 finance editor Ross Grenwood.

"I'm not buying any land," he added.

He warned if the State Government refused to fix the planning department and the banks didn't lend that construction would stop.

"And prices will rise because of a lack of supply," he forecast.

This article first appeared in The Daily Telegraph. 

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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