Lendlease's Chinese apartment agent Apex Investment Alliance has marketed the developer's Melbourne Quarter apartment project as potential Airbnb-style "serviced apartments" in order to lure more Asian buyers to the project.
At a marketing seminar held at Lendlease's headquarters in Barangaroo on Tuesday evening, Apex told about 400 prospective buyers that Apex would be able to advertise and manage their Melbourne Quarter properties as short, medium or even long-term leases on online booking platforms such as Wotif, Booking.com and Airbnb.
The hard sell from Apex comes at a time when Chinese buyers are withdrawing from the apartment market due to lack of funding from local banks.
"Now it's very trendy to put apartments on Airbnb. But it's too hard to have to hand over keys and manage the tenant," an Apex presenter said.
"Now, you don't have to do anything [with your Melbourne Quarter] purchase.
"There will be 11 members in the Apex team dedicated to providing you 24-hours round the clock service to help you manage your properties for lease.
"And if you want to come here, during times like Christmas and New Year's, you can reserve it for yourself too."
The big hook however lay in the nightly rate investors could charge for the lease of their Yarra River Melbourne Quarter apartments, located directly opposite Crown Casino, Apex said.
"The other time I stayed at Crown Towers Hotel and had to pay about $400 to $600 a night," the Apex presenter continued.
"In three to five years when the project is completed, you can charge at least $300 a night, think about how much you can collect a week!"
Lendlease, as the biggest developer in the country, is a hit with Chinese investors. All its apartment projects in Barangaroo and Darling Harbour in Sydney and those at 888 Collins Street in the Docklands were heavily marketed to foreign buyers.
Additionally, Melbourne Quarter was a particularly good investment due to its juxtaposition with commercial towers where executives looking for short stays were almost "rental guarantees", Apex said. Melbourne Quarter will include three next-generation commercial towers, apartments and retail spaces.
"It's all about location, location, location," Apex said at the seminar.
"You have big employers here like Ericsson, Fujitsu ... And it is among the big banks.
"And the street just outside the tower is Collins Street, which is just like New York's Fifth Avenue and Paris' Champs-Elysees and Shanghai's Nanjing Road."
But the biggest lure of all was that Melbourne was Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's choice for its first Australian office.
"Even Jack Ma chooses Melbourne," Apex said.
Other drawcards were the project's "SkyPark" – Melbourne's first – and its private dining and spa and jacuzzi facilities.
Lendlease said despite Apex's marketing tactic, it was not venturing into serviced apartment development.
"Melbourne Quarter presents a great residential investment opportunity and we have had strong interest from our locally based customers seeking attractive and affordable investments. We do not currently have plans to develop serviced apartments at any of our Australian residential projects," a spokesperson said.
There were also no restrictions for Melbourne CBD apartment owners to use their properties as short-term leases or hotel-like rentals.
Apex consultants were on site at Barangaroo on Tuesday night to sign customers. "We have an Eftpos machine to take your $5000 deposit for apartments tonight," the presenter said.