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They say the hottest property on the way up is the coldest on the way down. And Perth's luxury apartment market is testimony to that.

Property consultant Gavin Hegney said the boom's legacy in the real estate sector was the raft of top-end apartments on the waterfront and in the western suburbs, some of which are now selling below replacement cost.

Mr Hegney said WA developers did not get serious about the luxury apartment market until the boom unleashed a seemingly insatiable demand.

Wealthy resources industry workers eager to part with the quarter-acre block mentality helped usher in the new era of cosmopolitan apartment living, backed by an influx of interstate and international workers in Perth for resources jobs.

The trend was also driven by a demographic shift in which baby boomers began retiring at a time when they were affluent enough to downsize in style. In late 2007, Mirvac's Leighton Beach development came to signify WA's rocketing market, with all 60 apartments selling off the plan for $190 million within 36 hours.

Many other development also emerged, including the Claremont Quarter, several Mandurah apartment towers, harbourfront developments in Fremantle and waterfront complexes at Leighton, Scarborough and South Beach.

Some of the developments were covered in the Asian Wall Street Journal and Singapore lifestyle magazines for readers who could not get enough.

But when the global financial crisis hit Perth's property market in 2009, developers were no longer feeling the love.

In 2011, Mirvac threatened to sue three buyers of apartments at its Leighton Beach complex after they refused to make the final settlement. Some buyers sued Mirvac in a bid to get out of their contracts.

At around the same time, one-quarter of the Leighton apartments were put on the market by buyers looking to onsell, many for less than the off-the-plan price from three years previously.

Mr Hegney said the 12 penthouses which sold off the plan for about $9 million each were now worth about $4.5 million.

He said that while the success of the sector was driven by the boom, its downturn was in part because of a post-boom stigma.

"The resources boom really opened the global door and made Perth an international city," Mr Hegney said.

"Luxury apartments became really popular but they have dropped so much in value since then that there is now stigma attached to these apartments. It is a shame, because they really are a good product and many of them are selling below replacement cost."

Mr Hegney said the real estate market was generally improving, and would one day boom again.