Hometruths Sixteen

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Spring has sprung, and frenzied buyers gather around available Melbourne property like hungry sharks in water. Every auction its own mini-drama of expectations rising or being crushed with the fury of bidding fingers, I look at a robust spring property market as an onlooker at the colosseum. Who will be victor?

I began my auction weekend last Saturday in Kensington, a suburb which is closer than you’d think to the city – literally bordering North Melbourne. It’s very quaint and tree-lined, and in the blue brilliance of the morning its gracious streets of renovated workers cottages look positively Tasmanian. I don’t know the area very well –  (aside from writing the odd piece of real estate copywriting there) – and chose The Premises on Bellair Street for breakfast. It was bustling with couples and girlfriends catching up on the week past, and the shopping strip in general seems cute and worth exploring. Kensington has quick public transport to the city, and all the trimmings that make up a popular inner-city suburb.

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Wearing: sass & bide denim, Witchery leather, Bourjois 12 Heure lipstick. Photo credit to Alex at Lightdrop Studios.

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Top: Hungry property aficionados need big eats – the BBQ Breakfast roll at The Premises hit the spot.

I intended to observe my first auction in Kensington under the hammer of Richard Rendina, but when I arrived it had been sold prior. Buying property prior to auction can be a gamble, but one worth undertaking if your pockets and big enough and it’s a ‘keeper’. Different agencies have different procedures around buying before auction – but in short, don’t think that you can buy a property at the lower end of the quoting range before auction. It’s about klout and audacity when wooing a vendor away from their auction.

Some of you might know that I teach a course for writers (digital and otherwise) hoping to monetize, finesse and further refine their content – it’s called Leader Of The Pack and I’ve another one coming up in mid-November. I’d been searching for a new venue when I popped into Kensington’s gorgeous Lightdrop Studios instead of attending the planned Rendina auction – reader, it was love at first sight! Huge city views in an ex-woolstore near the mills – an ideal place to learn and share. Alex, photographer and Lightdrop Studios manager took these suitably ‘lightfilled’ images of me there. (Want to attend Leader Of The Pack? Email info@rubyslipper.com.au for details on the next class.)

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Jeffrey Smart via Hometruths Melbourne: big blue Kensington sky and rolling wheat mills

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My first auction of the day was a hockingstuart four-storey townhouse at 4 Raglan Street in North Melbourne. As I walked up the (admittedly, many) stairs, I heard the rumblings and mumblings of people commenting on the stairs, how inconvenient they were, what a joke etc. I am always disappointed when I hear people being needlessly rude at open for inspections – I find this kind of behaviour is particularly bad before an auction event. Remember, there’s a hopeful vendor behind that property which you’re badtalking – so if you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. Some properties have more ‘problems’ than others – be they endless stairs, bedrooms without windows, poor views, many levels … the list goes on. These eccentricities might be inappropriate for you, but they do not diminish the broader value of the property which is based more squarely upon land value and availability.

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4 Raglan Street is a tall-narrow mid-90’s townhouse positioned just off Erroll Street with all its cafes and culture. It had a beautiful rooftop with views to the city and the town hall. The crowd was middling – there were probably about 40 people in attendance.

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Trevor Gange of hockingstuart North Melbourne called the auction in a simple, straightforward manner. His style isn’t warm, but it is efficient and informative – furnishing the crowd with the basic details of the property, its location and rules around the auction process. The auction itself went in jerks and hops, with a starting bid at $700,000.  Another hockingstuart agent took occasional bids from a remote purchaser on his phone, confusing some purchasers. The auction continued to eek upwards from $830,000 to $870,000 before it finally passed in at $875,000. I bid the underbidder good luck, before jetting off to my next auction for the morning. The property sold after auction for $900,000 – its price testament to the confidence purchaser have in inner-city property.

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 Next stop: 767 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North for the auction of stately residence ‘Illawarra Villa’. (Image of minaret nearby taken on Drummond Street at the Albanian Mosque.)

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Sold by Woodards Carlton, Illawarra Villa is a regal, vanilla-white residence which is ideally positioned on a corner for natural light. It had a number of formal downstairs rooms and a renovated rear with a sunny conservatory. As with all Carlton North auctions, all the locals come out for a good sticky-beak and a look at the street theatre to come. This particular auction – called by Jason Sharpe – was over quickly and a competition between essentially two parties. Selling for $1,425,000, the two-horse race was super-fast with Jason inclining right, then left, then right again to catch their bids as they rose in the midday sun.

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Are you looking for  a new home this spring? Have you noticed anything extraordinary at a recent auction you’ve attended? Perhaps you’re going to be selling in the coming few months. If so, you might be just the person Hometruths Melbourne would like to feature in an upcoming editorial featuring the story of your home. Contact info@rubyslipper.com.au for details on participating in this unique magazine-style editorial.

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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 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.