The Weekend Australian, Mansion
Date: February 25, 2017
Journalist: Lisa Allen
International designer Collette Dinnigan is refashioning her property portfolio, but she has already struck trouble with Sydney’s overheated inner-city real estate market.
Dinnigan and her husband, entrepreneur Bradley Cocks, who have recently returned from a year’s sabbatical in Italy, have bought a rural estate in the NSW Southern Highlands, which they plan to make their main home.
Dinnigan also wants a city cottage, and has experienced first-hand Sydney’s surging housing market. “We are still looking to buy something in Sydney — it’s a very difficult market though. At the end of last year when we came back from Italy it (the Sydney property market) was too hot,” she said.
The family wants something “charming” in Sydney where they will spend a couple of days a week. “We loved living in Watsons Bay, or we want Paddington or Woollahra — it’s easy for schooling and walking to work. It’s nice to have an area that I know, I have known that Paddington area for 20 years.”
They hope to find a two to three-bedroom property with the potential to be refurbished, “but I don’t like modern refurbishments — I want quality and authentic, rustic, charming appeal,” she said.
Nor is Dinnigan looking for all mod cons. “I’m not someone who would go and put airconditioning in, but it has saved us this summer,” she said.
Dinnigan and Cocks have listed their Milton weekender near Mollymook for sale, hoping for $2.95 million, but they plan to keep the adjoining farm.
The renovated cottage on a former dairy farm is let as a guesthouse, Milton Surf and Stables, earning about $82,000 a year in accommodation income.
Before the rise in popularity of accommodation websites, beach houses and farm escapes were mostly financial black holes, but the rash of websites led by Airbnb and other specialist agencies, some of which list thousands of up-market holiday rentals, run a calendar akin to a hotel booking system.
Owners are increasingly willing to buy second and even third homes in lifestyle locations if they can earn solid returns.