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 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.

Review:

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.