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.

Review: 

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.

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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 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 One

 So this is our first Home Truths.

It’s the moment you’ll want to remember, so you can tell your kids where you were. We’re bringing you something you’ve never seen before in Melbourne’s property market. We’ll be providing a rundown on an Auction Saturday (19th March 2011), starting with our first niche coffee venue and ending with the last sale result. It’s an informal yet entirely informative blog where you can see who’s cool in Melbourne’s property scene… and who’s fool. So, take my hand and let’s go.

Starting out in Brunswick East. Editor-in-Chief, Iolanthe. Who says property’s just about suits?

Vibe: Autumn I love you. Clearance rates steady.

Wearing: With clogs. Gulu jewellery. Leona Edmiston hosiery.

Home Truths attended four auctions today, from Fitzroy North to Fairfield, Carlton to Carlton North. Bang in the middle of all these locations is the perfect place to start your home hunting day – Pope Joan 77-79 Nicholson Street Brunswick East. We arrived bright and early to get started on the Domain newspaper, and we weren’t the only ones. It was chockers with oldies, newbies and babies.

Warmly welcomed, we ordered a long macchiato which arrived in under a minute. It was beautiful and creamy, served in a glossy chocolate coloured old school cup. We ordered ginger bread with smoked maple butter which was delicately moist and warmed up my belly. Perfect.

As we munched on this tasty morsel, we noticed David Barnes of Harcourts Carlton setting up his auction flags for the day. He went on to pop this property under the hammer, which was passed in at 16 Nicholson Street. Well worth a look if you’re after a four bedroom unit in a location close to Pope Joan and Brunswick East. But I digress. Pope Joan staff were welcoming, opening the door for locals as they left the premises, topping up water… the works. A great way to start the day if you’re hunting in this locale. Ok. One last photo below. Artistic, innit?

Auction 1: 91 Rowe Street Fitzroy North

Agent: Collins Simms Stefan Dzanovski

Time: 10:30am

Punters: Fitzroy North is a notoriously ‘everyone knows everyone’ neighbourhood, so there were a lot of locals having a squizz in the crowd. Interested bidders seemed to be either older investors or younger couples. LOTS of Dora the Explorer trikes around.

Review: A cute home in a muchly-loved location, very close to a corner cafe and Queens Parade conveniences. Compact and contemporary, this was a classic two bedroom home with a slightly modified lounge and dining zone. Martha Stewart would love the kitchen, which was quaint and super glossy and white in a country style. Rear yard was undeveloped, but bright and with room for a Jamie Durie garden (if that’s your bag). Home would be suitable for those whose kids have left home (it’s on one level and close to everything) or a young couple who don’t want their in-laws to come round too often. Tres cute home.

The auctioneer for Collins Simms was Gary Fitzpatrick who called a solid auction to a crowd which remained tightlipped for quite a while. As is a trend at many auctions, Gary started off proceedings with a vendor bid of 800k. He called for 10k rises before the bidders gave it a bit of gas, going up to 870k before stopping. The property was eventually passed in for 897k before selling by negotiation for 907,500k. The agent Stefan Dzanovski said that his clients were very happy with the sales result on the day, and that he had confidence in the local Fitzroy North market remaining strong. Stefan says ‘The wider market is patchy as a whole, but Melbourne’s inner north remains strong. Purchasers have more choice at the moment, and aren’t prepared to secure properties at any price. Lifestyle is what brings the extra element to the desirability of a home. Collins Simms experienced an 100% clearance rate today.’

 Home Truths wants to make it clear that passing in a property doesn’t mean failure – negotiating after sale can be just as effective given a willing buyer and vendor.

This was the case with AG Property’s iconic Holcombe Terrace 205 Drummond Street Carlton (image above) which was passed in on the 5th March, to sell privately with the underbidder just four days later for $2,700,000. Agent Anthony Gattuso said ‘Holcombe Terrace was an exciting property to have on the market, as it was such a unique home and Carlton icon. As such, we found the right buyer who appreciated all of the home’s high Victorian drama’.

Auction 2: 9/37 Park Crescent, Fairfield

Agent: Nelson Alexander John Karr

Time: 12:00 Noon

Punters: A big range of buyers for this unit, and Home Truths expect that we’ll see more and more investors coming back into the market in 2011. A few older buyers browsing, but all the action was with young couples. Home Truths had the chance to chat briefly with the underbidders of this property who were North Carlton locals. They were going to live in the home initially and then use as an investment. So far, they’d found their house hunting process OK and didn’t really have much to remark on either way. Maybe they were just nervous about the auction to come.

Have you ever seen such a jolly auction grin? John Karr laying down the law in Fairfield.

Review:  This was a little one bedroom apartment with a nice-sized courtyard. For some reason there’s quite a few 1 bedrooms popping up in this area of Fairfield.   John Karr called an elegant and quietly confident auction to a hesitant crowd. His tone was regular and calming, and he made interesting patter about the nature of Fairfield Park. The auction opened up at 330k and ended up passing in at 352k to an enthusiastic young couple. The property sold for 353500 – just a touch above the reserve. Home Truths interviewed John Karr, who remarks that Fairfield is a great area which will continue to sell well.  John feels that there will be less incidences of underquoting reports, and homes are now selling within the quote range.   

Auction 3: 208 Drummond Street, Carlton

Agents In Conjuction: Nelson Alexander James Keenan, Kelly & Shiel – Damien Shiel

Time: 1:00 pm

To see… and be seen. That kind of gig.

Punters: This was the auction equivalent of a who’s who in Carlton. Serious buyers, serious money. Neighbours hoping for gangbusters results to improve the value of their own homes … a definite hob-nobbing vibe. As this residence (named Derby Terrace) was in commercial use, the buyers appeared to be those who’d renovate and speculate.

Review: The auction was called by Tom Roberts of Nelson Alexander. Well, what can I say? This is one of those pieces of street theatre that comes along in real estate once in a blue moon. This was a grand ole girl terrace home, currently used as commercial premises. It was definitely a property for those with ideas of re-configuration into a traditional residence. The auction consisted of furious bidding by two determined buyers in a face-off that consisted of $5000 dollar rises instead of cussin’. It all got a bit OK corral. Tom called a beautiful auction with tight, swift patter and the occasional amusing quip. The auction opened at $1.5 million and finished up at $2.151. With assistance from AG Property’s Anthony Gattuso, the winning bidder has made their mark on Drummond Street. Amazing auction action, the kind Home Truths wishes you were there for.

Auction 4: 338 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North

Agent: Jellis Craig – Simon Shrimpton

Time: 2:00pm

It’s a community event, y’all. Chockers turnout to 338 Rathdowne auction.

Punters: Rathdowne Village Carlton North on a Saturday afternoon is full of yummy mummies, sometime gangstas, neighbours and visitors to the village’s gorgeous cafes like Degani and Tre Bicchieri. This was no exception, and the crowd for this beautiful home’s auction was massive. Even the median strip was packed! A huge cross-section,  but those with their hands in the air appeared to be more mature owner-occupiers.

Review: 338 Rathdowne Street was a glowing jewel-box of a residence. Beautifully maintained although petite, this little home glowed. It also had a conservatory room which appealed to the Miss Marple in me. A wonderfully designed ROW with parking and large planters finished off the deal. Simon Shrimpton was both the agent and the auctioneer (a wonderful and rare thing to be) for this home, and he called an energetic and amusing patter to the crowd. And boy – what a hard crowd! You could probably make paddlepops on their steely gazes. Simon kept it light and coaxed both laughter and interaction from the crowd. The home started off at $1.2 million and was eventually passed in at $1.270 before being sold for in excess of $1.3 million that afternoon. Simon remarked that the vendors were very happy with the result, and that the Veuve was flowing! He said that Jellis Craig had a very successful afternoon across their network with 31 selling out of 37 auctions.

So. That’s Home Truths One.

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*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.