3 Mar 2016

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Welcome to the neighbourhoods where residents don’t have to pay for imported cars, sound systems, international holidays or gourmet cooking classes.

Developers are only happy to foot the bill.

Property companies behind the sprouting apartment towers of South Yarra, Toorak, Richmond and Malvern are going head-to-head for buyers and offering high-end freebies to win a signature on a sales contract.

Capitol Grand, on the corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street, is the latest residential tower in the busy Forrest Hill precinct, beside South Yarra train station, where a developer is dangling a substantial carrot.

Developer LK Property Group will give two million Qantas frequent flyer points to its two bedroom apartment buyers. That’s enough for five first-class return tickets to the US or UK. One-bedroom buyers will score one million points. The points can also be redeemed for Bose or Apple tech products to deck out the apartments.

LK Group’s boss Larry Kestelman has a long-standing deal with airline. Two of his previous apartment towers, The Opus in Southbank and St Kilda’s Marc, gifted Qantas points with property purchases.

At the nearby Ella tower, behind Capitol Grand on Claremont Street, buyers were treated to racy red Vespas when it launched in 2013. Twenty one-bedroom apartments, costing $416,000 off-the-plan, came with a parking spot for the free Italian scooter.

Up the road in Toorak, early bird buyers at the luxurious One Irving development – which has rich and powerful neighbours including trucking magnate Lindsay Fox – have been gifted a latest electric BMW. Beemer’s i3 model cars are worth at least $63,900. Developer Michael Yates is offering the same car, under a share scheme, for residents of the 38 apartments at his new project, 55 Claremont Street, South Yarra.

Urbis Economics and Market Research director Mark Dawson said developer incentives could “sweeten or simply speed up” the decision-making process for a buyer.

In the neighbouring leafy east, penthouses within Malvern East’s Vanguard development – with kitchens designed by Vue de Monde’s celebrity chef Shannon Bennett – have every mod-con imaginable, from steamer ovens to warming drawers and wine “conditioning units”. Elements of Vue de Monde’s kitchen – including the moody colour palette and induction technology – feature at Vanguard. Appliance brand Miele, with Bennett, will run cooking classes for residents, as it did for new owners at Little Projects’ Central South Yarra apartments last year. Vanguard’s developer, Bensons Property Group, was founded by businessman Elias Jreissati, who is Bennett’s long-time friend – and loyal customer.

At Forza Capital’s upcoming Supply & Co apartments, where Richmond meets the Yarra River, off-the-plan buyers are scoring free customised furniture from decor store Matt Blatt, as well as interior styling help.

Urbis Economics and Market Research director Mark Dawson said developer incentives could “sweeten or simply speed up” the decision-making process for a buyer.

“Incentives have been around for some time and appear in most, if not all, property sectors to some degree,” Mr Dawson said.

“They can be advantageous in a number of ways to developers, whether drawing more enquiries, brand/lifestyle association or just that little extra value to the purchaser.

This is to some extent about drawing attention to your project, but also about appealing to a certain segment of the market in a way that helps them imagine their lifestyle in an apartment.

“The incentives are naturally secondary to the core fundamentals of the project – these being location, quality, surrounding infrastructure and residential market performance.

“This is to some extent about drawing attention to your project, but also about appealing to a certain segment of the market in a way that helps them imagine their lifestyle in an apartment.

“Flight reward points might also be more about appealing to a certain sector of the market and helping to promote and even facilitate a jet-set lifestyle.”

Mr Dawson said Urbis data pointed to strong off-the-plan apartment sales in Melbourne.

“Regardless, in a competitive market, developers will continue to strive to provide a point of difference through their product, their design, their marketing, not to mention price,” he said.