Chinese investors have bought two sites in Melbourne's west and southeast for a combined $70 million as Chinese capital flees the riskier apartment market.
In the bigger of the two deals, a permit-ready 30-hectare site known as Botanic Drive, adjacent to the Cranbourne Royal Botanic Gardens, has changed hands for $42 million, well above market expectations of $30 million-plus.
The site at 1160 Ballarto Road and 20, 60 & 80 Botanic Drive in Junction Village, which has approval for 311 lots, was put up for sale at the end of September by Michael Goldthorp, the managing director of land developer Wolfdene, and his investment partners.
Mr Goldthorp said he decided to offload it after receiving a number of unsolicited offers. He said it was a good time to hand the project over to a buyer looking for a permit-ready project.
Development sites with permits have become highly sought after in Melbourne's booming greenfield suburbs, with prices regularly fetching over $1 million a hectare and retail lot prices close to $300,000.
It's the second time Mr Goldthorp has done well from selling development sites to Chinese buyers, having raked in $190 million (alongside his business partner Heath Woodman) in December from the sale of a Point Cook site to Chinese developer Dahua.
In the second land deal, Zhong Cheng Ye Pty Ltd, a company with an office in Docklands, paid $27 million – almost $2 million a hectare – for a 14-hectare site at 440-448 Point Cook Road in the west of Melbourne. The company's sole director is listed as 27-year-old Jia Zhang from Yan Cheng in China.
The site was put up for sale by private owner Sneydes Pty Ltd, whose directors are Silvana and Elisa Scarica and Anna Tymms.
Both sites were sold by Frank Nagle and Andrew Egan, directors at Biggin & Scott Land.
Mr Egan said the sale in Cranbourne set a new benchmark for zoned and permitted land in the southeast, while the Point Cook site was one of the last parcels of land available for development in the booming new growth suburb.
"We're still getting developers who are coming out of the apartment market and bidding on these land opportunities. A number of the underbidders were developers with current apartment projects in the Melbourne CBD," he said.
"Sentiment has turned against the apartment market because investors don't see continued growth in that market."