Hometruths Thirteen

We’re BAAAACK! After some months of absence, Hometruths Melbourne has come back kicking – oddly enough, just as the Auction market has got its groove back too. For the thirteenth instalment of our natty little journal we take you to breakfast at Wide Open Road in Brunswick, tag along to an auction full of young beautiful things and end up somewhere historic. Ooh, it’s an adventure.

Beginning in Carlton, Editrix Iolanthe in front of a very ‘Aix-En-Carlton’ Maison.

Vibe: Well, if we’re talking weather – it was a perfect autumn day. Sunny but not hot, breezy but nothing that will muss yo’ ‘do.

Wearing: I am a greater lover of coloured tights and am pleased to be able to wear them again! Booties and tights by Rubi, leopard print dress by Gorman.

Hometruths Melbourne Brekky Review: Wide Open Road, 274 Barkly Street Brunswick.

Melbourne’s ongoing affair with ex-industrial spaces continues with coffee-aficionado haunt Wide Open Road located opposite Barkly Square. The clientele seemed to be local stylish hipster kids catching up with their Mums and Dads or girlfriends catching up on the week’s activities. The menu has a little somethin’ somethin’ for everyone, although I had the bagel which was lavishly buttered and had some kind of toffee-caramelly condiment to go.

If you (like me) enjoy cakes for breakfast on Saturday instead of traditional sustenance, enjoy.

Wide Open Road has natty street-art including disused trolleys, an homage to Barkly Square perhaps?

Auction 1: 24 Murdock Street, Brunswick

Time: 11:30 am

AgentsAG Property, Anthony Gattuso

Punters: First home buyers were the main parties interested in this cute little home, which felt comfy and happy. Hard to quantify these exact sensations, but we think you know what we mean. It was an old house, but well-loved. It is in a price bracket (quote range $490,000 – $530,000) that is squarely in the first home owner’s market, and boy are these potential owners angry. Lots of crowd rudeness towards the agent and sniggering, which is most unbecoming in anyone.

These vendors must be nice people. How could you not be with a cat-themed mailbox? Lovesit.


Anthony Gattuso called a solid auction, raising a few giggles from the stony-faced crowds who looked to be willing a pass-in. Talking about the location of the property (quiet street, close to Sydney road, albeit the top end) and the benefits and transparency of the auction system, Anthony got things going with a vendor bid of $470,000. As you’ll be able to see from our Twitter feed, the bidding was fast and furious. Just when we thought there was no more ‘gas in the tank’ a dark horse bidder came in at $600,000 – and proceeded to buy the property. The home was sold under the hammer for $608,000 and proves there’s fire in the belly of the market for inner-city property still.

So there is no second auction for today. But there is an adventure to the National Trust Vintage Sale at Como House! I’d never been to  the birthday-cake of a property which is Como House, but it was there in all its sunny glory just after this Auction.

I was expecting great things of the vintage clothes sale bonanza in this gracious home, but alas all the more exciting items had been snaffled by more devoted fashionistas than I. Here’s a picture of some natty hats for you, however….

… and some details of the garden. Not an auction perhaps, but another kind of ‘open house’ well worth the visit.

Hometruths Twelve

Hometruths hits up Melbourne Open House for this week’s edition of your local property zine! As the marketing guru’s at Melbourne Open House cleverly promoted- it was a two day love-in with the city. Hometruths will cover the hidden assets of Federation Square (love it or loathe it, this baby’s full of architectual sneaky treats) and revels in the butter-milk creaminess of the newly refurbished Myer Mural Hall. It’s all glamma and it features coffee too!

Your editrix outside Carlton’s world heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building. 

Vibe: An overcast Melbourne day, grey but not too cold – indicative of the imminent spring to come! Hometruths chose to keep it ladylike in a bow-waisted party dress. You’ve got to dress up on a day out in Melbourne, just to show that gorgeous city how special it is to you.

Wearing: Leona Edmiston Cami-Collar dress, Laura Ashley leather jacket, Ferragamo ruby slippers.

Melbourne Open House 1: Federation Square

I walked up Exhibition Street and immediately became excited when I saw red banners (inset, above) flapping in front of the Princess Theatre, along with queues of other architecture tragics waitings to discover new facts and see ‘backstage’ to the city of Melbourne. When I arrived at Federation Square I joined a small group of five others (to attend the limited Federation Square tours you were picked by a ballot process online). Our lovely guide Fiona got started immediately after acknowledging the Kulin nation and the Wurundjeri people who formerly made their camps by the river at Birrarung Marr. Here are some Federation Square factoids she imparted to us during the tour.

  • Did you know that Melbourne’s first morgue was on the site that Fed. Square now occupies? It was eventually developed into the Gas & Fuel buildings in 1967 (photo below).
  • Federation Square is built directly on top of the train lines into Flinders Street Station. It wasn’t a project which was delivered on time, as they couldn’t interrupt public transport during the build. Thus, most of the construction was completed at night when train services ceased.
  • Federation Square’s redevelopment was tendered in a competition format in 1997. National or international, various designers could put forward their plans for the new city centre. Over 177 entries were submitted, with LAB architects the final winners in association with Bates Smart.
  • Federation Square cost 450 million to build and opened in 2002 by then-Premier Steve Bracks.
  • The smaller buildings dotted around the periphery of Federation Square are called ‘shards’ – that totally appealed to the Dark Crystal fan in me. There’s more Henson Studio shenanigans in Fed Square too.

  • Under Federation Square there is a unique passive heating and cooling system called The Labyrinth. I made a brief David Bowie joke to tourguide Fiona, she didn’t seem into my humor however. Dance magic dance. The Labyrinth environment system is just as it sounds -a system of concrete corrugated channels which are hidden underneath Fed Square, pulling in cold air and capable of adjusting the temperature 12 degrees above or below external air. Looks nifty, eh?
  • Did you know that 72 thousand triangles of various size made of materials including sandstone, zinc and glass make up Fed Square. A computer system was designed specifically to organise how the triangles would fit together most efficiently.
  • Fiona also showed us the raingarden which is located in the vast Federation square parking lot. The rainwater runs off the large concrete surfaces into the garden (inset below with Fiona) which ‘washes’ the pollution out before it runs into the Yarra. Nifty, huh?
  • When you’re looking out from the Fed Square carpark over ther river, you’ll see the ‘Federation Bells’ which chime every hour, as well as ‘Art Play’ (below) which is a children’s arts centre located in the old swimming hall.
  • Federation Square has 8 million visitors a year, and houses the largest indigenous art collection in the world inside the Ian Potter Centre onsite. Federation Square also has a mobility centre where disabled visitors to the city can hire scooters and wheelchairs for their use.
  • Fiona also took us to the loading zone via the old Batman Avenue, where all the deliveries to Fed Square are made (there are more than 200 of these a day). This is just adjacent to the train lines, which architects have provided ‘vibration protection’ against for sound a movement. There are 4500 spring and rubber matting sheets underneath Fed Square which takes in the sound and noise from the train lines. Prior to Fed Square being built there were 15 train lines going to Flinders Street Station – now there are only 8. Maybe this is the reason for our public transport congestion? 

View looking from the trainline level up at Fed Square.

  • Fiona also took us to the Green Room beneath the BMW Edge theatre (photo inset, below). The Green Room was actually quite dull, no bells and whistles and lots of skidmarks on the walls. Not as glamorous as I’d have thought! There was even a sign warning performers to do their own dishes.

  • The highlight of the day was being shown a secret gallery called ‘Slot 9’ which is a tiny industrial gap between two of the train lines underneath Fed Square. It has some rubberised supports to minimise vibration,  but is not acoustically padded. It has a private lift access and is suitable for gallery openings etc with a really industrial vibe. I liked it, it was all a bit ‘Dr Who’.

Inset: Industrial spookiness in the Slot 9 space under Fed Square.

After I finished up at Federation Square’s Atrium, I decided to go along to the Russell Place Substation (power grids etc) to see something else subterranean and unusual. Unfortunately there was a huge queue (which is testament to Melbournian’s love of adventure) and I was wearing a dress – you weren’t allowed through it you hadn’t trousers on. Here’s a photo of the enthused queue on Russell Place.

What to do oh what to do? Rejected from a Melbourne Open House event due to wardrobe, there was nothing for Hometruths to do but go and see a new edifice of Melbourne high street style – Zara. It had sharply-suited security guards out the front, and a whole lot of colour blocking in jewel tones of amethyst, emerald and sapphire blue. Nice, but probably not worth the queues of several weeks ago.

Then it was time for a pit-stop coffee at the Sensory Lab at David Jones…

The Sensory Lab has these cute little tables for one with high stools, tucked into the wall with a privacy nook, lamp and touch-up mirror. Very sweet. Can you see your humble author?

I then ventured to the newly-renovated Myer Mural Hall, on the penultimate floor of the freshly designed department store. I’d been before pre-renovation to see The Archibalds there – but the repaint and Deco-faithful fittings (including smoky mirrors and table settings) were very beautiful and impressive. You walk through a casual drinks area (perfect for product launches, etc) designed in a Philippe Starck style (inset below) before entering the buttermilk yellow Mural Hall to admire the Napier Waller paintings.

I’m pleased to hear that Myer will also start holding formal afternoon teas in the Mural Hall, with a glass of sparkling. Very retro and right on-target for the vintage-loving Melbourne crowd of beautiful young (and not-so-young) things.

An explanation of the Napier Waller images, focussed on paying homage to female achievement. Fitting really, as department stores are made specifically with the female customer in mind. The business plan hasn’t changed.

Gorgeous, right? These are characters from theatre. I spy Madame Butterfly on the left.

Women from classical history…. not sure about the fella in the right bottom hand corner. Any suggestions?

Hiding behind a mirror and looking out through the picture windows onto Bourke Street.

 Close-up on the table-settings in the Myer Mural Hall. Chic and yet old-world at the same time.

Hometruths hope that you enjoyed this mildly hotch-potchy version of our zine! See you in a couple of weeks for a more conventional version, covering off on Melbourne’s best auctions and taking the temperature of the property market.

Home Truths Eleven

This week Hometruths felt like an elated pirate on a stilled boat in the ocean. Not because we stole booty *ahem* from unwitting East India liners, but because the wind started to move on the high seas of the Melbourne property market. Ahoy, me mateys – we’re getting back to business! Hometruths Eleven has several treats for you to enjoy , and lots of pirate jokes too. Enjoy the start of your working week with the knowledge that the market is improving and buyer sentiment seems so much brighter. Better get on with buying your house, landlubbers!

Outside the Melbourne General Cemetary on Lygon Street, Carlton North – Editor Iolanthe Gabrie gets busy channeling Catherine Deneuve.

Vibe: Cheered verily by the perfect blue sky and Tasmanian-white light this Saturday morning produced, Hometruths chose to be chic, warm and mysterious at all auctions and snacking adventures in Melbourne’s inner-north.

Wearing: Gorman ochre high-waisted pants (my, I forget how comfortable tencel is!), David Lawrence chocolate trench, Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses.

Hometruths Melbourne Brekky Review:

Did you know that our editor is competing in Run Melbourne this coming Sunday, 17th July? Yup. We’ve gone from zero to 5km hero and in aid of that very gambit we’re eating healthily in our own kitchen. So, instead of an inner-north brekky review you’ll get a Hometruths Melbourne inourkitchen review. Depicted above : healthy, golden and luxurious – porridge with full cream milk from La Latteria on Elgin Street, sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with poached apricots. All washed down with a queen-sized Twinings Lady Grey Tea – all in beautiful iittala porcelain. NB: Our Run Melbourne effort also raises funds for Hometruths Melbourne’s charity of choice – Fitted for Work. Click here to donate to Hometruth’s effort (even a fiver, brother!) for this Sunday’s charity fun run.

Auction 1: 774 Lygon Street, Carlton North

Time: 11:30 am

Agents: AG Property, Anthony Gattuso

Who wouldn’t have a house a few doors up from North Carlton’s famous Filou’s Patisserie on their wish-list?

Punters: For the first time in a few weeks, I saw happy, positive and non-grumpy buyers. Hallelujah! Sometimes a nice house attracts nice people – nice vendors, nice agent, nice buyers. 774 Lygon Street’s auction was a karmic love-in of decent treatment and respect shown between all parties. It was a mature crowd, mostly families and older people – the auction crowd numbered around 30 punters.

Review: This property was located opposite the Melbourne General Cemetary, in that classic long row of Victorian workman’s cottages. This home had been very well lived in and very well loved, it had oodles of charm. Two bedrooms with high ceilings, formal lounge with bright views to a miniature winter-garden, huge bathroom and modern kitchen with atrium-style casual lounge attached. The owner must have really loved their garden, because it was full of verdant trees, mature plants and had a nice decking area. The block was quite long, and when you ventured to the end of the garden, you discovered a little park. Anthony Gattuso (Director of AG Property) was both the listing agent and the auctioneer for this campaign. A stalwart of the Carlton and inner-north, Anthony made much of the value and location of this home. As he said ‘… demand will always outstrip supply in these inner-city areas, as they will not be building homes like these again’. He also reinforced to the bidding crowd the clarity of the auction process, and how being able to compete in public was a benefit to buyers. Anthony started off the auction with a vendor bid of $690,000 and swiftly a live bid of $700,000 was called. There were two main bidders in the fray (both very polite and deferential) who kept the bidding in 10,000 rises until they reached $800,000 where they were knocked down to $5000 rises. The property was on the market at $800,000 and eventually sold for $830,000. The crowd were amused by Anthony’s relentless insistence that the competing bidders should keep going, even asking for lower bids such as $1000 and $500. As he said ‘It’s only money… the bank’s got lots!’ A happy auction all in all.

Auction 2:66 Collins Street, Thornbury

Time: 1:00pm

Agency: Nelson Alexander, John Karr

This property had approximately 10,000 square feet of land. How do you like this for a huge inner-city backyard?

Punters: This was an auction where we assume there was an equal number of sticky beakers to those with good interest. It was a very diverse crowd and there was a festival-like air to the event. The home was situated in the heart of Thornbury, opposite lovely Penders Park and only a couple of block away from High Street’s public transport and shopping. It was also really close to a real live milkbar (they still do exist!) and a charming primary school. As such there were lots of families milling around – it would make the perfect house to raise kids in.

This house warmed the cockles of Hometruths’ heart, with charming features like this classic oven….

… and ticking grandfather clock which complimented the lush wood interiors of the front part of the home.

Review: This unique home was built by the vendor’s grandparents in 1914, and had been lived in by multiple generations of the same family. It was a mixture of architectural styles (including Edwardian, Georgian Revival and Art Deco) which mesh together quite lyrically, and it had a very friendly and loved atmosphere. Not a super-large home, it was nonetheless spacious with a formal dining and separate lounge area. We really enjoyed the internal picture-window fretwork in the dining room which was very ‘arts and crafts’ movement, as well as the kitchen with its classic ‘Kooka’ oven. The auction was called by Peter Egan of Nelson Alexander Northcote, who took the large crowd by the horns and gave them a good shake. There were three bids which Egan declined at the start of the auction – one at $590,000 – one at $650,000 and one at $900,000. Although gruff, he stayed strong and stuck to his guns, making a vendor bid of 1.2 million. After some cajoling, a bidder raised their hand and offered 1.220 before Peter and listing agent John Karr went inside to discuss with their vendor. Once the agents returned, the crowd relaxed and natural bidding started between 3 main bidders. From 10,000 bids to 5,000 bids – the property eventually sold for $1,405,000. This was a terrific weekend in the Melbourne market, where you could really sense a change in market sentiment. Hometruths look forward to our next weekend of reporting being equally optimistic.

It was a very mano v. mano kind of auction – check out the digger on the left in the dark suit observing auctioneer Peter Egan on the right.

Home Truths Ten

This little project has certainly turned into quite a labour of love. My, I’m glad that the concept of Home Truths popped into my conscious. I’ve found that it’s not only put me in touch with a range of local property enthusiasts I heretofore had no knowledge of – it’s also taken me on a few exciting adventures! So we come to Home Truths Ten. An edition that features a little snacking, a little auctioning and a lot of stickybeaking. I love it, and i’m sure so do you. Hang on tight!

Starting off in Carlton, Editor-in-Chief Iolanthe Gabrie

Vibe: Enchanted by the idea of bright, garish colors that warm you from the inside out, I decide to channel something that’s a little 80’s and a little delicate. There’s nothing like being very orange on a grey day to warm the proverbial cockles.

Wearing: Arabella Ramsay ‘The Alice’ Collection dress – inspired by the colours of Alice Springs. Vintage Lithuanian modernist ring carried across the Russian Steppes by my great-great Grandmother. Check out great-great-great-Grandfather – the man’s got a Wikipedia site!

Hometruths Melbourne Brekky Review: Pope Joan 77-79 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East

This was actually Home Truths second visit to the beautiful and friendly Pope Joan – we reviewed it way back in Home Truths One where we nommed on ginger bread toast with maple butter. I yearned to try a couple of different items and so attended with a good friend and bargained with them until I could taste theirs too. Pope Joan is a wonderfully convivial kind of joint – it’s also got a top notch outdoor area with garden beds and lots of room for kids to fall over and play comfortably. So.. onto the treats at hand.

Presentation of food is highly prized at Pope Joan – look at this creamy vanilla rice pudding with rhubarb topping in its own little preserves jar.

Check out the free-form bircher muesli with yogurt, home-made muesli mix and fruit presented separately. Talk about bespoke breakfasting! I really love the porcelains they use – reminiscent of Mud Australia designs.

So yes. Please go and enjoy at Pope Joan before attending your next open for inspection in Brunswick East and surrounds. Kids seem very welcome too!

Auction 1:7/884 Lygon Street, Carlton North

Time: 11:00 am (postponed)

Agent: Foxtons, Angelo Scambiattera 0418 339 827  

Punters: Very few buyers around, a couple of young men. In fact there were not enough buyers at the property for the agent to conduct the auction. Hometruths Melbourne understand a prior offer had been made on the property which was not accepted.

Inset: View along Lygon Street Carlton North – over the cemetery and looking towards the city skyline

Review: This is a neatly maintained block which had been fully re-furbed by a single developer a few years ago. One of only 12 units, this two bedroom unit was elevated, quite bright and also had a modern kitchen and bathroom. It was priced relatively competitively with an asking price of mid $400’s. I was quite surprised at how few people were there to attend the auction – and I think that many first home buyers are sitting on their hands at a time when they should be jumping at apartments like these. Two big bedrooms, small block – carpark on title. A winner. The property is currently still available and on the market – P.O.A.

Adventure Intermission – Eolian Hall

I told you this Home Truths would be full of wild adventure, just like Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean 4. It’s not strictly real estate, but I’m sure you’ll go with me. As I waited outside 884 Lygon Street for the verdict on whether or not an auction would be held, I noticed a kindly-faced man scratching around with the bins outside the Societa Isole Eolie. The Eolian Hall on Lygon Street is a beautiful art deco building which stands out due to its soft bone colour and distinctive architectural features. A bit like the Abruzzo Club, it’s an invite-only joint where you must be Eolian (Sicilian Italians, hailing from a series of verdant small islands) or married to one. Formerly the Jewish Kadimah, the club was purchased by by Societa Isole Eolie in the 1930’s. In classic Home Truths Melbourne style, I started up a conversation with Joe Biviano outside the Eolian Hall who told me that he and his wife Julia were holding an evening function that day – did I wish to come in and look around? Did I ever!

Joe very kindly showed me around the body of the hall, and explained to me that the Eolian Islands consisted of small communities that were fisherman, or farmers who grew olives, figs and grapes. Lipari is the main island (there are six in total), and it’s where Joe and Julia hail from. Although blurry, you can still see in this photo Aeolos (the god of wind) and Vulcano (the god of fire) who are said to overlook the islands. I was very impressed by this information, explained with great pride by Joe.

One of the paintings inside the main hall of the Societa Isole Eolia. Look at the quiet two sitting on the log in the bottom right hand corner.

Joe told me that living in the Eolian Islands were quite different to living in mainland Sicily – because the community on the islands were so small, everyone knew everyone. It’s obviously a great joy for Joe and other members of the club to keep their traditions going – each November and December there are grand festivities at the hall.

Upstairs there is the original meeting room, with lots of photos of the founding members. Cluttered, but full of happy memories too.

These are the two main founders of the Societa – looking at them looking out at me was like a swift journey back in time. I’m sure they stood in the Eolian Hall where I had, and knew Carlton as I never can. I like the happy look on Mr. B Canestra on the right.

Here are Joe and Julia Biviano, in the giant kitchen at the Eolian Hall. You know, they were preparing full dinners for 80 people all by themselves! Julia sometimes can be heard on 93.1 FM talking with Matteo and sharing her traditional Eolian recipes. Julia was very sweet and told me about her family and how she came to know Joe. On the menu for that evening were: Arancini, Roast Potatoes, Roasted Red Peppers, Salads, home cured Olives (by Joe of course!), fresh Ciabatta bread and then coffee and home-made biscotti. I was lucky enough to have one of these delicious almond meal biscuits.

Fresh arancini, full of mozzarella and red sauce – Julia made 80 of them in her kitchen the day before. That’s dedication.

Golden crostoli and an array of almond meal biscuits. All home made with obvious love.

Many thanks to Joe and Julia Biviano who were so welcoming and happy to share their culture and their own personal stories. I feel very privileged to have learned about the Eolian Hall, and feel another piece of my local knowledge is in place. Aren’t you glad I shared!?!

Auction 2: 8/32 Smith Street, Collingwood

View from opposite the 32 Smith Street Collingwood development – Aesop‘s headquarters. No branding, but a Carl Jung quote.

Time: 12:30pm

Agent: Peter Markovic, Paul Markovic 0411 866 464  

Punters: I hadn’t seen so many people at an open for inspection for quite a while! Compared to the previous auction of the day on Lygon Street, this property was pumping. I can’t say why – but I assume the quote must have been more competitive. Lots of quite grumpy looking buyers, many of them young couples who were consulting with their parents.

Review: The property for auction was inside a medium density low-rise development, and it was a neat and sensible two bedroom townhouse. No bells or whistles – not small – not large. Just right! A good-sized living area, and a couple of outdoor areas were definitely appealing – but the central location paired with these qualities clearly made the home irresistible. Paul Markovic was both the listing agent and auctioneer, and he did a sterling job. He spoke at some length on the rules of the auction and the contract, and touched briefly upon the market. He encouraged buyers to bid earnestly, as the market would always change but the location wouldn’t. A cheeky buyer kicked off proceedings with a request to offer 450,000 which Paul kindly refused  with an ‘ I like the boldness, sir!’ A vendor bid was called at 500k, and then they were off like horses at the Cup. There were at least 4 bidders I could recognise and they just kept going up, little by little. The property was eventually sold at 632,000 which seemed a very reasonable purchase price.

Home Truths Nine

Ah Melbourne. When you’re good you’re very, very good. And when you’re bad you’re horrid. Today Melbourne treated me like a blushing bride being carried over the threshold. Crisp winter air, sunny dappled light at all auctions, impressive food – good traffic. Home Truths Nine is a sweet little tome featuring an upsy-downsy property market and the people who fuel it. Literally and figuratively. We’ve also got a new Agentsays this week, featuring Troy Constantine of Collins Simms in Clifton Hill. Enjoy!

Starting off in Carlton, Editor-in-Chief Iolanthe Gabrie.

Vibe: In honor of the release of the latest Rockstar Games release L.A Noire, I channel 1940’s style with pinrolled curls and a worsted wool KGB style coat – perfectly suitable for a Melbourne winter. Video game fan-girls unite!

Wearing: Worsted woollen coat by Veronika Maine, OPI nailpolish ‘An Affair in Red Square’, Country Road wrap dress and Chanel Coco Mademoiselle.

Hometruths Melbourne Brekky Review: Hellenic Republic, 434 Lygon Street Brunswick East

What a hopeful morning. This is the top of Lygon Street in Brunswick East, just before it turns right towards Coburg. I thought to take this photo as it’s not often you see this view of the city – can you see the Eureka Tower there in the distance? This is also the location of Hellenic Republic (another project of George Calombaris) well known for its sharing feasts – Greek classics reinterpreted to keep things interesting. I’ve been to Hellenic Republic for dinner several times – sometimes elated and delighted at the superior service and quality of fare, and other times bemused at being ‘oversold’ to and having adequate, yet unimpressive dining experiences. I’d never been for breakfast and thought it was time to amend the fact.

When I arrived at 9 am or so, Hellenic Republic was quiet and peaceful – a welcome respite from the often-overstuffed Melbourne cafe scene of a Saturday morning. As it wasn’t crowded, the customer service of the staff really shone. After being welcomed to my seat I was offered a choice of newspapers – how luxe! Seated in the broad daylight facing Lygon Street, it was somehow more enjoyable than nighttime – I could see the Neos Kosmos newspapers displayed on the wall near the drygoods store, and the decorative lobster-cage lightfittings. The breakfast menu was impressive – from thick greek yogurt with quince and attiki honey through to bougatsa (custard semolina pie) or avocado with feta. I chose beautiful Avgo Sto Forno (oven-baked eggs with chickpeas and a tomatoey-harissa sugo) and an unctuous greek coffee.

I will definitely be back soon to try something else from their menu. Top-notch service, elegant food and a peaceful Saturday morning breakfast. Good for kids, great for brunch with girlfriends or a breakfast date. My favorite!

Auction 1: 29 Hotham Street, Collingwood

Time: 11:00 am

Agents: Hocking Stuart, Michael Amarant mamarant@hockingstuart.com.au or 0411 144 569

Collingwood streetscape – Hotham Street. Not bad, eh?

Punters: I had a chat with a lovely young bloke who was representative of many of the buyers looking at this home. First home owners, wanting a bit of land and space, doing their research but in no particular hurry to buy. In the inner-city land’s a rarity, so this classic Collingwood worker’s cottage proved relatively affordable. My experience in slower markets has shown that the market which clams up most when clearance rates fall is (counter-intuitively) the first home owner’s demographic. You’d think that less competition means better buying (which it certainly does!), but as first home owners are generally quite nervous about entering the market – they usually remain quite tight-lipped at auctions, and there’s not a lot of action.

Review: 29 Hotham Street was a cute little cottage, very well-loved by its current owners. A cute little cottage, with a small but  bright front bedroom, cosy lounge and kitchen area and nicely manicured rear yard. Upstairs was a mezzanine bedroom and study with lots of natural light. The Achilles heel of the home was the extremely steep staircase accessing this area – although not unusual for this vintage of residence,  it still can prove difficult to a contemporary home owner to negotiate around. Scott McElroy called the day’s auction on behalf of listing agent Michael Amarant, focussing on the proximity of the home to public transport and the city. Scott compared buying a home at this price point to buying an apartment – but without the body corporate fees. Still, the crowd wasn’t getting into the mood as Scott called a vendor bid of $570,000. The property was passed in on this bid, and agent Michael Amarant has confirmed there was a further offer on the day of $590,000. The property is available for sale privately at $639,000.

Hocking Stuart Director and Auctioneer Scott McElroy, enticing the crowd to bid.

Hometruths Coffee Pitstop – De Clieu

Reminds you of anything? Super cool kids hangout De Clieu is in the old premises of KP Smyth aka Smythnelsonalexander  (redesigned maybe 7 years ago by Six Degrees Architects) so the real estate theme is still kind of there. Aww, c’mon. It was a cold day and the warm embrace of soy latte called.

De Clieu has everything that the hardcore Melbourne coffee fascists loves, like Seven Seeds coffee beans and lots of drip filtration. Packed to the gills on the weekend, it has a range of arty baguettes and organic grainy breads to warm your heart. The soy latte I had ( I know, I know, why bother!?) was super dooper toasty flavoured with a beautiful density to the ‘milk’. I liked it so much I even went back there this morning for another.

How wonderfully life affirming. From the crafty kids at Third Drawer Down, this bright sign on Gertrude Street.

Auction 2: 68 Carlton Street, Carlton

Time: 12:00

Agents: Nelson Alexander, Arch Staver

Punters: As you can see, there were lots of ’em! Carlton Street is Carlton’s most prestigious location, overlooking the Carlton Gardens and consisting of exceptionally beautiful gold-rush era Melbourne architecture. Some of the homes are a little decrepit, but (like Elizabeth Taylor) some things just get better with age. The crowd consisted of several genuine bidders, lots of families and a few Carlton identities.

Sure, money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy this view from 68 Carlton Street.

Review: I can unreservedly say I enjoyed this auction more than I’ve enjoyed the weeks of dull pass-ins that preceded it. The top end of the market still displays robust activity – and why not? Assets are less expensive now than they will be upon market recovery. This home was a grand old dame, lots of bedrooms and a little bit of a rabbit-warren internally. No matter,  however – the next owners of this residence are going to completely gut and re-furbish. Punters were buying position and opportunity at this auction. Called with great skill by Arch Staver of Nelson Alexander, the auction started off with a vendor bid of $1,500,000 with calls of $10,000 invited. Arch spoke about the unique position of the property asked of the crowd ‘Surely there can’t be so many gathered here to do nothing on this fine winter morning?’ Eventually a bid of $1,510,000 was taken and three bidders went to town. One bidder tried to cut the bids down to $5000 immediately – and asked to do so a further three times. Arch stuck to his guns and politely declined the low bid – to the bidder’s frustration but ultimately for the good of the vendor. I saw another such interaction between bidder and auctioneer at the next auction reviewed today. The property was eventually passed in at $1,810,000 and is currently privately available for sale at $1,950,000.

Arch Staver politely declining a low bid. Look at that cheeky grin.

Auction 3:  3/465 Brunswick Road, Brunswick West

Time: 1:30pm

Agents: AG Property, Anthony Gattuso

Punters: Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy bums. A more sour-pussed group of first home owners I’ve not seen in ages. The kind of body language only a Year 9 teacher would know how to modify.

Review: The property on offer was a beautifully renovated one bedroom unit in a 1970’s brick block. Located on the ground floor it had been finished with a real eye to detail, and it also had extra storage throughout. Very feminine, and with a good-sized secure courtyard and carpark. Ostensibly, a winner. The auctioneer and Director of AG Property, Anthony Gattuso, described the benefits of the property to the crowd. It did have many attributes which made it a quality investment or first home such as airconditioning, small body corporate and laundry taps. He opened with a vendor bid of $280,000 and a live bid of $290,000 came quickly thereafter. The buyers looked quite nervous, as if they were waiting to see if more bidding would come. There was some banter between a bidder who wanted to knock the bids down to $1000 swiftly, which auctioneer Anthony Gattuso politely declined to do. There was further bidding up to $305,000 whereupon the property was passed in. The property was then sold to the highest bidder for $317,500.


Auctioneer Anthony Gattuso encouraging bids from the crowd. Check out the grumpy  bum buyers!

Home Truths Eight

I bet that you’re probably snuffling quietly into a tissue as you read this. Or perhaps popping your second Sudafed. Maybe gargling a little Dimetapp. The whole of Melbourne seems to have been hit by the dreaded lurgy of flu. God knows your little Editor still has it, and had the beginnings of it reared its head on Saturday 28th of May. That’s the reason you’re only getting one auction review for this week – 50 Rathdowne Street in Carlton. So get better peeps – and I look forward to a jollier, flu-free Saturday and brekky review for you next week. For now, here’s a sweet little Home Truths Melbourne snackeroo.

Starting off in Carlton, Editor-In-Chief Iolanthe Gabrie.

Vibe: Trying to stay warm and look presentable. Bronzey tones fit the wintery theme in a Mary-Quant style tunic and thick leggings.

Wearing: Veronika Maine shift dress, Marc Jacobs watch, Codral.

Auction 1: 50 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

Time: 11:00 am

Agents: Nelson Alexander, Roland Paterson

Punters: Given the relatively conservative attitude we’ve seen from buyers over the past few weeks at Home Truths, Saturday’s auction at 50 Rathdowne Street was very well attended. A real cross-section of buyers too – young families, retiree buyers and some of the neighbours having a poke around. The home is located along Rathdowne Street which isn’t necessarily the most appealing spot to many purchasers who are concerned about road noise, or would prefer to be in the Rathdowne Village.

Review: I must quietly admit my bias and say I really love this home. It’s the ultimate Carlton McMansion. Three levels and a corner position means that the property is naturally bright throughout. The living zone floor is impressive with a bulkhead ceiling creating a delightful sense of space, and the views to Rathdowne Street were lovely. I imagine that this kind of inner-city urban home doesn’t suit everyone though – I heard some comments from buyers worried about street noise, upcoming construction work and a noted lack of mirrors in the bathrooms and window coverings. This is a trend we’ve noticed in new developments – ostensibly for the builder to cut back on costs. Arch Staver was the auctioneer and made every effort to impress upon the crowd the excellent buying that the home represented, putting forward that building the home from scratch would be much more expensive than buying it now.  After further encouragement, Arch called a vendor bid of $1.1 million, upon which price the property was passed in. It is now available for private sale at $1,195,000.

Auctioneer Arch Staver looking sharp and encouraging a stony-faced crew to bid.

Home Truths Seven

G’day Home Truth pals. Saturday 21st May was one of those days where you just don’t want to get out of bed. Even if you’re a property junkie, or someone hustling auctions all day in the attempt to find a dream home. Nonetheless, it was a better day to be out and about than the previously stormy week with nary a buyer popping their hand in the air. This Saturday was much more forgiving, with two out of the three auctions Home Truths Melbourne attended with live bidding. Enjoy our reviews, and get snacky with our editor’s blow-by-blow of Seven Seeds cafe.

Starting off in Carlton, Editor-In-Chief Iolanthe Gabrie. Slight ceiling eyes effect AKA Audrina Partridge  eyes.

Vibe:  Informed by the big hair of Eurovision and emulating the 80’s-come-art deco quiff of Sean Young in Bladerunner. Hoping for big bidding to be inspired by big hair.

Wearing: Fur Gilet by Forever New, OPI Red My Fortune Cookie, Rubi Shoes boots, Chanel Rouge Coco Rebelle lipstick.

Seven Seeds. Hub for coffee lovers of the hardcore variety of Melbourne. I had been once before about 18 months previously, and I was a little overwhelmed by the seriousness of the space with dedicated coffee tasting rooms and several different methods of filtering the good stuff. This is more representative of my low-key attitude to coffee (and being in Melbourne, there’s a lot of good joe around anyway) rather than any criticism of Seven Seeds. My return to the low-key facade on Berkeley Street, Carlton was very different to my first experience. A little like a speakeasy, you approach Seven Seeds from a non-descript entry and are drawn into a blonde wood panelled, lofty space just full to bursting with breakfasting Melbournites.

No fancy exteriors here. Instead, the Australian-style modern design is saved for the interior – my breakfast table was decorated with…

… an elegant single, fuzzy protea and a medicine jar of fresh water.

There was an extensive and creative menu, with mueslis and porridge re-interpreted with local ingredients and unexpected (but delightful!) flavours. I settled for a short black (very, very short – just a couple of spoonfuls, really) which was earthy and creamy and brioche french toast with  blueberry mascarpone and hazelnuts.

Brioche french toast –  with spiced syrup and crispy enough to last me through to the end of a busy day of opens.

We say a resounding yes to Seven Seeds – it’s a great place to stop off if you’re biking your way to an open for inspection in North Melbourne, or perhaps on a journey to the Vic Markets. Friendly staff, extensive menu – a little serious, but deeeeliciously so.

Auction 1: 14/109 Heidelberg Road, Clifton Hill

Time: 10:00 am

Agents: Jellis Craig Clifton Hill, Bev Adam – bevadam@jelliscraig.com.au

Punters: A very mixed bunch of potential buyers at this neat, sunny one bedroom apartment. There were older couples (likely investors), younger single guys and girls and a whole lot of who appeared to be neighbours. These properties appeal to two important sectors of the buyer’s market – making one bedrooms great investments for the long haul.

Review: Located in a quality 1970’s development which is both low-rise and well maintained, this one bedroom unit was a real winner. Beautifully maintained and full of touches that only an owner-occupier would consider – quality kitchen with beautiful wavy red tiling, creamy stone benches – luxurious bathroom,  full laundry and spa-style shower. It also had a carpark on a separate title, as well as natty terrarium-style minimalist gardens. At only $1000 per annum body corporate fees, it represented good buying for a newbie first home owner or a savvy investor type. Simon Shrimpton called the day’s auction, noting and emphasizing to the crowd  all the benefits of the property in detail. A reticent crowd to start off (in fact, all three auctions today started with a vendor bid after much cajoling), Simon called a vendor bid of $330,000 to begin. Shortly thereafter a two low increment bids of $5000 were called, which were accepted by the auctioneer. The buyers clammed up at $340,000 and Simon placed a strategic second vendor bid of $345,000. Although not commonplace previously, secondary vendor bids are becoming more frequent in this marketplace. A bidder who previously hadn’t participated came in at $350,000 – and the property was passed-in to this party and sold for $360,000.

Bev Adam and Simon Shrimpton cutting a stylish swathe in the auction market on Saturday, Heidelberg Road.

Quote: $330,000 – $360,000

Price Sold: $360,000

Auction 2: Charing Terrace – 10/22 Grattan Street, Carlton

Time: 11:00 am

Agent: Thomson, Glen Bartlett

Punters: Charing Terrace is the Fort Knox of Carlton real estate. Nobody goes in and nobody goes out. Well, not quite. But it is a very private (and admittedly very gorgeous) 1980’s development of secluded townhouses. There were many familiar faces of neighbourhood locals in the crowd, and a few family demographic punters that Home Truths have seen at other auctions in the area. It is a very tight-knit body corporate with immaculately maintained grounds – would certainly suit an owner occupier who appreciates privacy and great amenity to the city.

Review: Set towards the rear of the Charing Terrace development is this tri-level townhouse style residence which is immediately homey. Although needing an update internally, the home is very charming and enjoys brilliant natural light and a huge courtyard. The kitchen was a real favorite of ours, with a lovely picture window and a real sense of privacy. It is a large home, with a granny-flat style arrangement on the ground floor – you could remodel the space quite easily. Charing Terrace’s main benefit is the privacy and security of the development mixed with the terrific location. Glen Bartlett was the day’s auctioneer, assisted by Tim Elliot. Glen called a thorough auction, firstly describing the terms of sale (90 days or earlier, body corporate fees of $1839 per half year) and benefits of the property (popularity of Charing Terrace amongst a ‘verdant oasis’). He also made mention of how unusual it was to be able to take 3 cars off the street in Carlton – this particular property had that amenity. Despite encouraging the crowd on, Glen had to make a vendor bid of $920,000. The crowd remained quiet, and the property was passed at that level.

Director of Thomson Real Estate Carlton Glenn Bartlett encouraging the crowd at Charing Terrace.

Price currently: $990,000 private sale

Auction 3: 3/389 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Time: 12:30pm

Agents: Collins Simms, Troy Constantine

Punters: The open for inspection prior to the auction was very busy compared to the other opens Home Truths reviewed on the day. It was chock-a-block full of 30-somethings and young families, looking to buy a home to live in.  There were a few investor-types,  but the overwhelming impression was of owner-occupier interest in this home.

Review: Quite an unusual development- with access from both Lygon Street and the side street the property seemed to be a mixture of single level residences and townhouses with an internal, enclosed courtyard space. Sounds weird? It kinda was. Not bad weird however – just unusual. This apartment was very spacious and brightly lit, located on a corner gave it a further feeling of privacy. Although economically finished, it had terrific storage and nicely fitted bathrooms. The location of the residence was terrific – right near public transport to the city and close to the strip of new cafes in Brunswick East. There was definitely room here to raise a small family comfortably. Collins Simms stalwart and all-round lovely guy Stephen Whitelaw was the day’s auctioneer, and he made a calm and conversational call. Stephen made a real effort to communicate simply and honestly with the crowd – the current buyer’s market can be unnecessarily nervous and often negative about property value. Stephen spoke about the benefits of the property, the terms of offer and even handled a question on the fly about storage cages and the body corporate.  Stephen got the auction going with a vendor bid (after a short period of asking for natural bidding) at $480,000. This was swiftly followed up by a live bid at $485,000. Similarly to Jellis Craig’s Simon Shrimpton, Stephen made a second vendor bid once the auction stalled at $520,000. Another live bid ensued at $521,000 and the property was passed into this buyer. The vendor appears to be $29,000 away from making a sale – so let’s hope that home will be sold to a happy new owner occupier soon.

Price Currently: $550,000 private sale

Collins Simms Director Stephen Whitelaw and sales agent Troy Constantine chatting to the crowd.

Home Truths Six

After a few weeks away from the Melbourne auction market whilst journeying in America, Home Truths is back with edition Six. Did you miss us? Saturday 14th of May was a horribly rainy, windy and suitably Melbourne-ish wintery day. Good day to be inside… not so much fun if you’re an estate agent or a hopeful buyer however. We review +39 as our restaurant this week (having lunch rather than brekky to shake it up a little) and feature three properties – two in Carlton and one in Thornbury. Enjoy!

Starting off in Carlton, Editor-in-Chief Iolanthe Gabrie (having just removed herself with regret from the hydronic heating).

Vibe: Will all this rain and wind cause a drop in clearance rates for Victorian Auctions? Will I succesfully complete today’s auction reviews without frostbite?

Wearing: Mimco beanie, Lorna Jane cupcake-pink fleece, Chanel Mademoiselle perfume.

Instead of breakfast this week, we thought we’d tantalize your palates with heavier fare – it is after all in keeping with the wintery blast that your tummies are yearning for something a little, well – heavier. We ventured to the CBD to +39 Pizzeria, voted as the best pizzeria of 2010 by The Age. Owned by the rather gorgeous Remo Nicolini (brother of Tony Nicolini of Carlton Espresso & D.O.C fame), this no-nonsense mildly industrial feeling restaurant pumps out the pizza lovin’. I cannot recommend this restaurant MORE as the perfect piping hot pick me up in between open for inspections. El husband had a Margherita (served by a suitably Eurovision-esque lovely waiter) which was cheesy and crowned with fragrant, fresh and un-torn basil leaves.

I enjoyed a Capricciosa (I know it sounds like a dull choice, given that +39 do an ‘Aragosta’  pizza topped with caviar and lobster… but the fragrant ham won me over!)

If this little piece of Italy can’t un-freeze the cockles of your heart after a loss at auction, well – there’s not much hope for you. Crispy, chewy and most importantly JUICY – this is an impressive pitstop on a Saturday.

Auction 1: 38 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

Time: 10:30 am

Agents: Nelson Alexander Carlton, James Keenan

Inset: Mark Verrochi taking names prior to the auction at 38 Rathdowne Street.

Punters: A very mixed bag of potential purchasers at this rainy-day auction. A smallish crowd of around 30, it appeared to mostly be young couples, or small families with one child.

Review: 38 Rathdowne Street is a contemporary townhouse-style property which is architect designed and features a raw concrete-style minimalist facade and quality modern kitchen. Quite compact but very attractive throughout, the home is perfect for a couple upsizing (or downsizing if you don’t mind a few stairs) and very close to the amenities of Carlton. Quoted at 700-770k by Nelson Alexander Director James Keenan and auctioned by Tom Roberts, the damp crowd were quite silent at the opening of the call. This was a trend Home Truths saw repeated at all auctions we attended today. Tom highlighted the excellent location, flexible accommodation and hydronic heating of the home to the buyers, but eventually had to call a vendor bid of 700k. After going in briefly to refer to the vendors, the home was passed in at 700k. Negotiations continued post auction, with the home successfully selling shortly after for 760k. This goes to show that simply because a property is passed in at auction, it doesn’t mean that a buyer isn’t lurking in the crowd or that a sale isn’t achievable.

Inset: James Keenan (holding notepad) and Tom Roberts rain-dancin’ the showers away towards a successful sale at 38 Rathdowne.

Auction 2: 106 Faraday Street, Carlton

Time: 11:00am

Agents: Nelson Alexander Carlton, Tom Roberts

 Punters: A true who’s who of the Carlton neighbourhood at this auction! About 100 metres from the previous auction at 38 Rathdowne Street, but a world away in terms of buyer demographic. Older buyers were coming through the home, which made sense in terms of price point for the house ($1.220 was the opening vendor bid) – but seemed incongruous with the actual layout of the residence which had extensive and very steep stairs. A limited time that an older person could reside in this home, methinks.

Review: What a magnificent home! This regal Victorian home gave your editor serious FOMO’s (fear of missing outs). Beautifully renovated throughout and with a very feminine sensibility, this home will make whoever claims it as their own happy for quite a while I daresay. Generous formal living room, beautiful marble kitchen with a Philippe Starck-ish vibe going on and proper-sized yard for entertaining. Upstairs two of the bedrooms were charmingly wall-papered in toile, adding to the cosy feel of the residence. In terms of position, you couldn’t ask for more. A quick hop to Brunetti, D.O.C, Readings and the supermarket, and very close to public transport on Nicholson Street. All these features made the buyer’s steely resolve to not put up their hands and bid the more puzzling. Tom Roberts (listing agent and auctioneer, a good combo) was engaging and determined, describing the detailed renovation the home had undertaken. American oak floors, marble lined bathroom etc. He also made mention of how he’d recently undergone a renovation and was now almost a part of ‘Renovator’s Anonymous’. The point made was that renovation is a challenge, and a ‘break even’ is not always immediately achievable. Despite his encouragement, Tom needed to call a vendor bid of $1.220 to get things going. After referring to the vendor briefly, the home was passed in at this level. It is currently available for private sale at $1,340,000.

Inset: Janine Ballantyne and Tom Roberts mid-auction at 106 Faraday Street, Carlton

Auction 3: 317 Raleigh Street, Thorbury

Time: 1:00pm

Agents: Barry Plant Northcote, Luke Brizzi

Punters: Definitely a neighbours peeking fest, with what seemed like a crowd of mostly Nonnas, Nonnos, Yia Yia and Papous making up the crowd. There were several serious-looking parties in the mix however, with this substantial residence suitable for a young family or alternately a savvy developer looking to knock down and build townhouses. The amount of choice on the market has certainly affected the rate of activity at auctions currently, including the amount of active punters showing up.


Inset: Luke Brizzi encouraging the crowd to put their hands in da air like they just don’t care.

I’ve got a soft spot for Raleigh Street in Thorbury, having been a previous neighbour on the street. Thornbury and Preston still represent relatively good buying for first-home owners and young families who’d like a little yard without having to go all the way to Tarneit. It’s got great amenities such as the Station Street shops, and High Street is full of young up and coming businesses and cafes. 317 Raleigh Street has lots going for it, most noticeably its substantial land component of 600 sq metres odd. The residence itself is an 80’s style brick veneer with both front and rear yards, several bedrooms and formal and casual living areas. It’s in good nick, but probably needs a little further updating. Totally livable, however. Auctioneer and listing agent Luke Brizzi made the most of the location and amenities in his pre-call patter, and highlighted the convenient situation of the property. Despite encouragement, Luke needed to kick things off with a vendor bid of $800,000. After referring briefly to his client inside, he then passed the property in. Strangely enough, the very thing going for the home (ie excellent land and potential for development) is probably the thing that holds it back. The home is sizable – the land even larger – but the sale price of the home (now available for private sale at $1,065,000) precludes it from appealing to first home owners or starter families. Most likely a developer project ahoy, as the home has a driveway making it perfect for a set of townhouses. Watch this space!

Home Truths Five

Welcome to Home Truths Five. It’ll be a mini-Home Truths this week, as your editor is off on an overseas sojourn this week. We’ll be back in two weeks at full power though, peeps. We focus our brekky review on Birdman Eating on Gertrude Street, Collingwood this week and feature a Carlton Auction. Enjoy – and hang in there for a couple weeks until we return!

Starting off in Carlton on an unseasonably warm morning, Editor-In-Chief Iolanthe Gabrie.

Vibe: I’m gonna hug me some Disney Princesses in Disneyland next week.

Wearing: Lorna Jane top and jeans, Napoleon Perdis makeup

After a record-smashing run around the Tan, Home Truth’s Iolanthe felt hungrier than hungry. In a mildly violent, ‘i’m ready to eat my arm’ off kinda way. This called for a suitably carbohydrate-fuelled brekky, the kind I just knew that hipper-than-thou Birdman Eating on Gertrude Street, Collingwood could provide. I had some amazing home-made crumpets when I was in Hobart recently at Salamanca Market’s fave Tricycle cafe, and was excited to find a similar offering at Birdman this morning.

Gosh, isn’t fresh cold butter melting on home-made crumpets mouth watering?

The crumpets were crisp on the exterior and yeasty and chewy on the interior – served with generous pats of butter and leatherwood honey my hunger was satiated. Birdman Eating was pumping with a wide range of customers, older folks breakfasting with friends, parents with babies (kids are most welcome, with eggs with soliders and cocoa pops are on the menu), cooler-than-cool Molly Ringwald types with Boy George hats. The breakfast menu is extensive, with baked eggs done in a number of ways popular on the menu, as well as wintery treats like Welsh Rarebit and vanilla baked ricotta. Big thumbs up, I’ll be coming back as soon as possible (post Disneyland extravaganza).


Finished off with a long macchiato that was savagely acidic to start and nutty to finish. Kind of like Pauline Hanson, but much nicer!

Auction 1: 24/100 Queensberry Street, Carlton

Time: 11:00 am

Agents:Hocking Stuart, Ben Harrison 0430 457 234 or bharrison@hockingstuart.com.au

Inset: Facade of Cento, 100 Queensberry Street L-R: Young Ben, Scott McElroy, Ben Harrison.

Punters: The property was secure and very spacious – this fact coupled with the quality of size attracted a more mature clientele. No first home owners here! Older couples, and not a huge crowd – perhaps 25 or 30?

Auctioneer and Hocking Stuart Carlton Director Scott McElroy calling a fast and competitive auction.


24/100 Queensberry Street is a spacious three bedroom apartment, located on the third floor of a secure Piccolo construction built development. This is a building that is located near Lygon Street and close to North Melbourne – the area feels a little University-like and not particularly romantic. The interior of the apartment makes up for any lack of location, with three full bedrooms, the master suite with its own bathroom. The living room was very well naturally-lit, and there was the benefit of a large terrace balcony too. Hocking Stuart Auctioneer Scott McElroy made much of the building’s quality Rothe Lowman architectural design and Piccolo  build (they have recently undertaken The Garden House development, opposite the Royal Exhibition Buildings on Rathdowne Street) and the crowd responded generously, with an opening bid called almost immediately at 900k. Bidding was between two parties who went hammer and tong in a brief (although very productive) war of 25,000 raises. Before we knew it, Scott called the property on the market at $1,100,000 – it eventually sold under the hammer for $1,180,000. A swift and happy auction, and a very relieved buyer – this is a long term home in a perfectly sized inner-city development.

*Home Truths Melbourne has gathered this information to provide an interesting document for readers and subscribers. Information contained herein is gathered from a range of sources including but not limited to; local press both virtual and hardcopy, Valuer General Information & Agents own investigations. All efforts are made to verify the information provided. The information is not to be relied upon or used in dealings with third parties and people should make their own investigations regarding their own property or personal circumstances. Opinions and observations offered should not be treated as fact.

Home Truths Four

Can you handle the truth? We’re back again for another Home Truths Melbourne roll of the dice on Saturday 9th April 2011, taking the temperature (ahem) of the local auction market and culture around property sales and buying. This week we have a diverse range of auctions, from a State Trustees number in Carlton North through to a tri-level townhouse in the depths of Brunswick. You voted for this week’s breakfast review (choices were Proud Mary, Birdman Eating and Cavallero), and we enjoyed a suitably delicious repast at Cavallero. We also enjoyed the company of Melbourne Property Manager extraordinaire Vicki Lekanis today, who answered our ‘One Hot Minute, My Breakfast’s Getting Cold’ questions about leasing and renting. Here’s this week’s Home Truths Melbourne.

Starting out in Carlton (La Mama, Courthouse Venue on Drummond Street), Editor in Chief Iolanthe Gabrie

Vibe: Enjoying the cool Tasmanian-style sunshine on a blustery Saturday. Sans Spirit of Tasmania heaving.

Wearing: Scanlan & Theodore Skirt, Threadless T-Shirt, Rubi Shoes, Tilkah necklace.

First stop of the day – Cavallero, 300 Smith Street in Collingwood.

I was so happy that you crazy Home Truths Melbourne kids chose Cavallero for our breakfast review, as I hadn’t been and the vaulted high ceilings and elegant ironwork front doors had been a-callin’ for quite some time. Plus, I was meeting my good friend and property manager extraordinaire Vicki Lekanis for the first of our Saturday morning ‘One Hot Minute, My Breakfast’s Getting Cold’ interviews. Double happiness. When I arrived at Cavallero I swiftly found a seat in the front window and was offered a coffee  – the soy latte came quickly.  

Nice dramatic iron door, huh? The soy latte was nutty and suitably strong…. giving me inspiration to peruse the extensive menu with artwork by Toby Pola on the back (below).

It was sweet sailing for me though, with not a rainbow vomit in sight!

The interior of Cavallero is elegant, with beautiful airy mahogany ceilings, plush padded booths and an outdoor courtyard. It is somewhat at odds with its central location on Smith Street (near Woolies and Gluttony) – it feels like Cavallero would be more at home on Gertrude Street which has become slightly more gentrified. However, it was full of fashionable young types which shows that a cultural change along main Smith Street is inexorably occurring.

Vicki and I ordered without ado, especially enjoying the Wind in the Willows quotes on the menu – a charming touch.

Check out these bad boys – baked eggs in a tomato sugo with fontina cheese, cavolo nero and sourdough bread.

Breakfast trifled with granola, yogurt and poached fruit. Winner!

Whilst nomming our way through these Cavallero treats ( Home Truths gives Cavallero a big thumbs up, go there before you start your next hunt for homes in Collingwood or East Melbourne!), Vicki and I got down to an interview focussing on her expertise in property management. Vicki is the Senior Property Manager for Caine Real Estate, with nearly a decade of experience in managing premium property in Melbourne’s blue chip neighbourhoods. Here are her words of wisdom.

Vicki Lekanis: ‘One Hot Minute, My Breakfast’s Getting Cold’ Interview

Home Truths:

 What is the biggest mistake tenants make in the leasing process?

Vicki Lekanis:

The biggest mistake is looking at too many properties and taking too long to apply. In many cases they might have seen a terrific place on a Friday, which will be leased by the time they get back to us with an application. Speed is important in application! Also, make sure to read texts of advertised properties carefully. Don’t assume that pool and gym amenities are part of the lease, nor the furniture depicted in advertising – clarify these points with your leasing agent. The best approach to leasing a property is to make a shortlist of five things your home must have, and focus on those items first in making your decision.

Home Truths:

What is the biggest mistake landlords make in the leasing process?

Vicki Lekanis:

I’d have to say the biggest mistake landlords make is choosing an agent based on their fee rather than their skill. I have clients that might be happy with my service but will want to argue over fees that might ultimately amount to the price of a coffee a week. Choose an agent that is relevant to the area, has a track record in their business, has a great team with suitably systems and processes in place and ask to see examples of their work – condition reports, routine inspections etc. There are lots of agents that will just do a ‘tick and flick’ form which doesn’t stand up in tribunals – a thorough agent will always make detailed notes for their landlords. Ultimately you will get what you pay for in property management services.

Home Truths:

Are open for inspections on Saturdays necessary for property management?

Vicki Lekanis:

I find that in East Melbourne lots of  our younger, professional clientele find coming to open for inspections after work the most convenient for them. When we do open for inspections on Saturdays, we don’t usually get the crowds of potential tenants we experience mid-week. I am all about doing open for inspections during the week and getting the property leased for the landlord before the weekend arrives.

Home Truths:

What is one unexpected thing that has come from your work in property management?

Vicki Lekanis:

I have to say that everyone you meet is a prospective client, and I’m finding at the moment my biggest referrers are my tenants! Agents often forget about tenants are simply think they’re annoying, always asking for maintenance. My philosophy is that you should treat all clients the way you’d like to be treated – you’ll never know where your next business is coming from.

Auction 1: 763 Drummond Street, Carlton North

Classic hawthorn-brick styling on this elevated Carlton North terrace.

Agents: Woodards & State Trustees, Danny D’Orazio

Time: 11:00 am

Punters: What a blustery and oddly mild morning –  the very substantial crowd is testament to Melbournian’s natural love and curiosity of the auction process. Lots of neighbours present having a chat… it did appear that there was a quite a bit of browsing at all the auctions we attended today. The feeling of the auction didn’t have that high-charged ready-to-do-business vibe. This particular home would be suitable for those wanting to renovate or extend, but we didn’t see many developers in the crowd either.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel… let down your hair! 763 Drummond Street’s next-door neighbour is the Albanian Australian Islamic Society. What a tower!

Review: 763 Drummond Street is located in a premium section of Carlton North, very close to the Rathdowne Village and other amenities. The home itself was elegantly elevated, guaranteeing any future owner years of enjoyable evenings with a cup of tea on the balcony surveying their kingdom. The interior of the home needed substantial work, but the size of the land was impressive with room for expanding the living space if necessary. The home was auctioned by Danny D’Orazio, representing the vendors who were State Trustees. Danny called a strong auction, impressing upon the crowd the benefits of the residence and its suitability for renovation. He also made it clear that a State Trustees auction meant business, and that his clients were committed to selling the property. The crowd remained silent, and Danny called a vendor bid of $800,000 – noting ‘even the council would buy it for that!’. There was one natural bid from the crowd at $805,000 before Danny called a second vendor bid at $900,000 and passing the property in. We hope that this beautiful home finds an owner to restore it to its former beauty!

Woodards’ Auctioneer and Listing Agent Danny D’Orazio giving a shout out to the crowd.

Auction 2: 30 Ryan Street, Brunswick

Agent: Jellis Craig, Simon Shrimpton on 0411 889 577

Time: 12:00 noon

Punters: Ryan Street is a narrow locale hidden behind the bustle of Nicholson Street, and it was looking mighty quiet at this open for inspection until 10 minutes before the auction. All of a sudden lots of prams wheeled out of nowhere and there was a good crowd of families looking for their next home! No renovators here, or newbie buyers – solid family investors were afoot.

Auctioneer and listing agent Simon Shrimpton encouraging the family crowd to raise their hands.

Review: I haven’t seen a house represent such good buying for a loooong time. And by ‘represent good value’, I mean that it ticks the suitability box for its key demographic – family buyers. Relatively new, this tri-level townhouse was built to a good quality and features three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a divided living area, plus parking for two. What more do you need if you want to live near the city and public transport – and all at the very reasonable quote range of $660,000 to $700,000? Simon Shrimpton called an engaging auction to a pretty chilly crowd – he really knew his stock and mentioned the potential rental of the property being $580 – $630 per week, also playing up the benefits of the home having no body corporate fees. Simon also mentioned a recent sale on Ivory Way (very nearby, part of the same development) which was an identical townhouse that sold for $717,500. Despite inspiring banter from the auctioneer, no bid came forth from the crowd causing Simon to call a vendor bid at $660,000. Simon then encouraged the crowd to ‘have a good think about what you are doing here today’ before making the auction rules clear regarding the benefits of being the highest bidder. The property was eventually passed in at $680,000 and is now available for private sale at $710,000. Have you got one or two kiddiliwinks? Make sure to check out this gem and move into a comfy family home – it’s just near CERES too!

Auction Pitstop: Milkwood, 120 Nicholson Street Brunswick East


A journalist can get very thirsty on a run, so we stopped off at the quaint and very ‘Brunswicky’ Milkwood. What a tiny cafe, bursting with happy afternoon munchers. We enjoyed a Phoenix organic lemonade before going on our merry way. Home Truths will plan a breakfast outing here in the future to try some of the delights on offer at Milkwood. This particular part of Brunswick is really enjoying a re-birth with lots of edgy and quaint cafes and arts spaces opening up.

Look at that sweet white-washed interior, stocked high with treats and denizens of Brunswick.

Gee, it’s almost like you’re right here with us drinking organic lemonade, friend.

Auction 3: 214 McKean Street, Fitzroy North

Agents: Nelson Alexander, Peter Stephens

Time: 1:00pm

Punters: What a mixed bag of lollies here. The home had a mix of qualities, but had no distinct buyer demographic as such. It needed extensive internal remodelling, although it had a first-class location and some very charming internal features to enjoy. Ultimately the kind of home an investor might purchase and put a tenant into as-is (an addition to a super portfolio perhaps?) or a owner-builder might move into and do work on stage-by-stage. Probably not enough ‘meat on the bone’ for a professional developer to consider.

Review: This little home was in a superb location in Fitzroy North – just around the corner from Queen’s Parade and amenities, but also located on prestigious McKean Street. Nestled amongst many imposing and grand terraces (and a church!) this  little one bedroom house is the ugly duckling amongst black swans. Auctioneer Arch Staver made much of this ‘ugly duckling’ factor, highlighting that buying the least attractive house on the most prestigious street was ‘investment buying 101’. The house had been strangely remodelled into a one bedroom with walk-in-robes, a generous slate-floored living room leading to a very charming kitchen (with cellar for wine, collection of John Farnham EP’s etc) and cute courtyard. Quite livable as is, but ripe for a renovation. The auction punters were very cagey, with nary a hand raised in the air despite Arch’s encouragement. A vendor bid was called at $650,000 with rises requested at $10,000 a time – to no avail. The home was passed in on a vendor bid and is now available for private sale at $700,000.

L-R: The charming listing agent Peter Stephens and Arch Staver, sharp Auctioneer.

And so ends Home Truths’ journey throughout Melbourne’s auction market. We hope that you enjoyed the ride and picked up some trends from our reports. Remember – in a weekend where properties pass in, there is always a great opportunity for an intelligent buyer to negotiate a home for a fair price. Get to it!

See you next week, Home Truthers!

*Home Truths Melbourne has gathered this information to provide an interesting document for readers and subscribers. Information contained herein is gathered from a range of sources including but not limited to; local press both virtual and hardcopy, Valuer General Information & Agents own investigations. All efforts are made to verify the information provided. The information is not to be relied upon or used in dealings with third parties and people should make their own investigations regarding their own property or personal circumstances. Opinions and observations offered should not be treated as fact.