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!

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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.

Review:

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!