Home Truths Eleven

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

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

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

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

Hometruths Melbourne Brekky Review:

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

Auction 1: 774 Lygon Street, Carlton North

Time: 11:30 am

Agents: AG Property, Anthony Gattuso

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

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

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

Auction 2:66 Collins Street, Thornbury

Time: 1:00pm

Agency: Nelson Alexander, John Karr

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

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

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

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

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

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


Home Truths Ten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auction 1:7/884 Lygon Street, Carlton North

Time: 11:00 am (postponed)

Agent: Foxtons, Angelo Scambiattera 0418 339 827  

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

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

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

Adventure Intermission – Eolian Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auction 2: 8/32 Smith Street, Collingwood

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

Time: 12:30pm

Agent: Peter Markovic, Paul Markovic 0411 866 464  

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

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

Home Truths Seven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auction 1: 14/109 Heidelberg Road, Clifton Hill

Time: 10:00 am

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

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

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

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

Quote: $330,000 – $360,000

Price Sold: $360,000

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

Time: 11:00 am

Agent: Thomson, Glen Bartlett

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

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

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

Price currently: $990,000 private sale

Auction 3: 3/389 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Time: 12:30pm

Agents: Collins Simms, Troy Constantine

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

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

Price Currently: $550,000 private sale

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