Behind the scenes: How a $35 million-plus property sold in four days

Selling a property for more than $35 million in just four days might seem like a whirlwind feat, but as sales agent and The Agency co-founder Steven Chen explains, it’s years of experience and hard work behind the scenes that goes into a sale of this nature.

Last week, Mr Chen and his team secured the sale of 178 Hopetoun Avenue, Vaucluse, which had been advertised only four days earlier for more than $35 million.

Explaining how this swift transaction was achieved, Mr Chen said it came down to preparation, timing, reputation and experience.

Preparing the property

Noting he takes a wholistic approach to every property, Mr Chen said the first port of call for any prestige property is to ensure it’s up to the standard a prestige buyer would expect.

In some cases, a property might require a full makeover including a repaint or new carpets, but in the instance of Hopetoun Avenue, the property was presented immaculately.

It took only a week to ready the property for sale, while other properties might take a month.


When it comes to marketing, Mr Chen said quality photography was critical, and a hero shot was imperative.

“For Hopetoun Ave, we wanted to ensure the hero shot captured as much attention as possible,” he said.

“We felt the best shot was one taken by drone which showcased the home in its entirety, encompassing the Michael Suttor-designed residence, the tennis court, level lawn and swimming pool.”

A major feature of the property is an eight-car garage, which Mr Chen’s team filled with vehicles for the photo shoot in order to emphasise its potential and size.

Once his team had the suitable images, they presented them in order of appeal, with the aim of showcasing the property in a way that clearly quantified its high value to a potential buyer.

“As a result, the property went live on Thursday and had 86 inquiries by Friday,” Mr Chen said.

Inside 178 Hopetoun Ave, Vaucluse. Image courtesy of The Agency

Pre-listing and exclusive access

Prior to the property being advertised, Mr Chen’s team alerted potential buyers in that price bracket that the home was coming to market and offered them early access.

They also utilised their extensive database, touching base with people who might have an interest in the home.

In the interim, Mr Chen also showed his own personal team of 10 and other members of The Agency sales team through the home, so they could alert their potential buyers.

Inside 178 Hopetoun Ave, Vaucluse. Image courtesy of The Agency


Mr Chen notes Hopetoun Avenue was a property with international appeal, so marketing encompassed digital advertising both across Australia and internationally.

Open for inspections

Mr Chen explains a home of that calibre is open for private inspection only.

Those who attend inspections require pre-qualification and each potential buyer of Hopetoun Ave was well aware the home was likely to command north of $35 million.

Each party was given an exclusive tour of the home, with at least an hour allocated so they could take in all aspects of the property and its features.

The stunning tennis court at 178 Hopetoun Ave. Image courtesy of The Agency

Securing the buyer

The details of the sale of Hopetoun Ave are subject to a confidentiality agreement, however Mr Chen confirmed the property had sold to an Australian buyer after three parties showed serious interest and two contracts were requested.

“The party who secured the property moved swiftly. They understood there was competition and ultimately secured it for a price the vendors were happy with,” he said.

A strong market

Sydney’s prestige property market has attracted lots of recent attention, and Mr Chen agrees the market is strong at the moment.

“There is very limited stock of high-end quality product, so when an asset of this class becomes available, high-net-worth clients are well positioned to move, and they do so very quickly,” he said.

Gaining the listing

Mr Chen has been an agent in Sydney’s eastern suburbs for more than 25 years, and in that time has forged a trusted reputation with sellers and buyers.

He had sold property for the vendor of 178 Hopetoun Ave previously, and they reached out to him when they were ready to sell again.

Mr Chen notes this is where years of experience and reputation pay dividends.

“For a new agent, it’s great to aspire to sell prestige homes, but it’s over time and with experience that this tends to happen,” he said.

“There’s a specific skillset required at that price point. The marketplace has to understand you have experience, are trustworthy and have integrity.”

Every buyer and seller is valued

Mr Chen has forged this reputation by taking the time to understand and appreciate the buyers and sellers he has worked with throughout his career.

In addition to prestige property, he sells across all sectors of the market, including development sites, off the plan new projects and prestige sales.

“Everybody is given the same red carpet service and care – whether they are buying or selling a $1 million or a $50 million property,” he says.

“It’s about servicing each vendor and educating them about all parts of the sales process including price expectation, and it’s also about servicing the buyer at a micro-level as well.”

Mr Chen cites the recent example of the Intercontinental Hotel at Double Bay, which he sold for $178 million in March this year.

“It was about really understanding the vendor and also appreciating the buyers’ needs as well.

“These sorts of deals can only be done with experience and it takes years to get to the point where you are negotiating them.”

Meanwhile, he notes he is of the firm belief the product might be property, but real estate is about people.

“It’s all about the client. It’s about excellent service and achieving good outcomes.”

The Intercontinental Double Bay. Image courtesy of The Agency.

New listings ahead

Mr Chen’s next major listing will hit the market this week, in the form of a stunning estate in East Killara that was previously owned by the late mining magnate, Lang Hancock.

The property comes with a price guide of more than $20 million and encompasses a 7500sq m estate, grand manor, championship tennis court and manicured gardens.

Lang Hancock’s former residence at East Killara. Image courtesy of The Agency

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.