Hometruths Fifteen


Melbourne’s inner-north is rather like Twin Peaks at the moment. Which is – in its own Lynchian way – not unfamiliar. The inner north has all the coffee (hot and black as midnight a la Dale Cooper) it could ever want and all the baked goods it can handle. I know those are the things that want to eat before I go Hometruths-ing.

The inner north also shares a TwinPeaks-ians paranoia – although in our case it’s not to do with owls in the forest, or mystical ancient beings. Our paranoia is of a property-related nature, fuelled by the ancient mystic being of jealousy and worry about being priced out of our community. In today’s Hometruths, we spend time hanging out in Brunswick East (image above, snapped at famous Mirabella lighting) before heading to a popular auction on Warburton Street in Brunswick proper. I even made a little video for you to enjoy, too!


Newly opened, did you know that

Lygon St now has its own nursery? The (aptly named) Lygon St. Nursery has a beautiful selection of indoor-and-outdoor plants in their cute shopfront and rear garden sanctuary. It reminded me of the Ruby Slipper studio where I shot these editorial pictures amongst our own interior foliage, featuring Alpha60 clothing and a whole lot of cobalt blue. To see more from this edit on our sister site, click here.


As you head up Lygon Street away from the cemetery,  you’ll soon see that the block near Barkly St to Glenlyon Rd has become increasingly fancy. With popular bakeries such as the much-loved Sugardough (where I had a piping hot chai and a oozingly-raspberry bomboloni to keep my auction-going energies up), newly-interred Jimmi Jamz and old favourite Small Block, this portion of Brunswick East is deeply gentrified when compared with its wild counsin-to-the-west, Sydney Road. The surrounding streets are a mixture of tightly-packed weatherboards, brick veneers and townhouses, in various states of repair. Well-serviced by tramlines, shopping and popular schools, this portion of the inner-north is fiercely competitive  and desirable when it comes to property.


Red coats and old Melbourne laneways on my way to the Warburton Street auction.


A traditional family home in the Victorian style, 3 Warburton Street has undergone a relatively new renovation which provided an open-plan living and dining to the rear of the property. Immediately comfortable and benefiting from position and a rear garden, this home was popular although far from extraordinary. The popularity (and gigantic sales price achieved, but more on that later) of this property was due to position and amenity. Held by one family for 20-odd years, the punters attending the auction this weekend were mostly young families.


Drizzle and the street-theatre of the Saturday auction.


Called by veteran Nelson Alexander agent Nicholas West, the auction was smooth, civil and fast with bidders coming to the party swiftly. Nick made known that he had sold this property to the current owners 20 years ago. I know. He doesn’t look old enough to have been selling this property 20 years ago. #fountainofyouth?


Sold under the hammer with stiff competition from  multiple bidders, the 3 Warburton Street home reached just over $1,400,000.

As I walked away from the auction, I overheard couples quietly commiserating with one another about the prices now being achieved for relatively-humble properties in the inner-north. The feeling of anxiety pinged through the air over the babble of kits and iPhones pinging. Dear reader, the days of families being able to afford a three bedroom home as first home owners are long gone. At least, in Brunswick and its immediate surrounds they are. My advice to you? Buy now. Buy something. If you can afford to. Whatever you buy doesn’t need to be a forever home … just somewhere that is comfortable enough, close to things that you and others love, that will be easily sold once you’ve grown out of it. What you need to become a property owner at prices like $1.4 million is a history of buying, starting with something small.

Buyers at the $1.4 million dollar bracket haven’t reached their potential overnight. They are usually couples who are older, with a good twenty-odd years of buying (and capital growth) behind them. So think about a two bedder in Coburg, Reservoir, Preston. Maybe a  two-bedroom apartment if you’d like to be closer in. Avoid the panic and feelings of property paranoia, and above all, victim-hood. If you’re a young family looking to buy, you’re not being doddled out of a bargain by an agent or a greedy owner. It’s time that’s your enemy here – the time that your competitors have spent growing their wealth. You just haven’t had time in the market yet, that’s all. Begin by hooking into the market at a level you can afford and take advantage of the low-interest rates and capital growth in the long-term that being a property owner grants you.


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 Eight

I bet that you’re probably snuffling quietly into a tissue as you read this. Or perhaps popping your second Sudafed. Maybe gargling a little Dimetapp. The whole of Melbourne seems to have been hit by the dreaded lurgy of flu. God knows your little Editor still has it, and had the beginnings of it reared its head on Saturday 28th of May. That’s the reason you’re only getting one auction review for this week – 50 Rathdowne Street in Carlton. So get better peeps – and I look forward to a jollier, flu-free Saturday and brekky review for you next week. For now, here’s a sweet little Home Truths Melbourne snackeroo.

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

Vibe: Trying to stay warm and look presentable. Bronzey tones fit the wintery theme in a Mary-Quant style tunic and thick leggings.

Wearing: Veronika Maine shift dress, Marc Jacobs watch, Codral.

Auction 1: 50 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

Time: 11:00 am

Agents: Nelson Alexander, Roland Paterson

Punters: Given the relatively conservative attitude we’ve seen from buyers over the past few weeks at Home Truths, Saturday’s auction at 50 Rathdowne Street was very well attended. A real cross-section of buyers too – young families, retiree buyers and some of the neighbours having a poke around. The home is located along Rathdowne Street which isn’t necessarily the most appealing spot to many purchasers who are concerned about road noise, or would prefer to be in the Rathdowne Village.

Review: I must quietly admit my bias and say I really love this home. It’s the ultimate Carlton McMansion. Three levels and a corner position means that the property is naturally bright throughout. The living zone floor is impressive with a bulkhead ceiling creating a delightful sense of space, and the views to Rathdowne Street were lovely. I imagine that this kind of inner-city urban home doesn’t suit everyone though – I heard some comments from buyers worried about street noise, upcoming construction work and a noted lack of mirrors in the bathrooms and window coverings. This is a trend we’ve noticed in new developments – ostensibly for the builder to cut back on costs. Arch Staver was the auctioneer and made every effort to impress upon the crowd the excellent buying that the home represented, putting forward that building the home from scratch would be much more expensive than buying it now.  After further encouragement, Arch called a vendor bid of $1.1 million, upon which price the property was passed in. It is now available for private sale at $1,195,000.

Auctioneer Arch Staver looking sharp and encouraging a stony-faced crew to bid.

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.


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!

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.

Home Truths Two

Hey. We’re back again for round two. Home Truths Melbourne was a hit last week, with more hits than we ever expected for the premier posting. Thanks to those who voted in the poll, Depot de Pain on Rathdowne Street was the winning brekky venue which is duly reviewed in this Home Truths – keep your eye out for a new poll each week. In this week’s Home Truths we feature four auctions in Melbourne’s inner-north from the 26th of March, 2011. Can you handle the Truth?

Starting out in Carlton North. Editor-in-chief Iolanthe Gabrie.

Vibe: Jeggings and croissants. Mais oui!

Wearing: Windsor Smith clogs. Tilkah Dynasty earrings. Bettina Liano Blouse.

You voted, we attended. Prior to beginning our auction run (along with it seems half of Melbourne, the auctions were all very well-attended today), we supped at the new Depot de Pain (voted by you!) located at 693 Rathdowne Street Carlton North. Right in the heart of the Rathdowne Village, this little gem is nestled not-so-far from popular Belki and almost directly opposite Curtin Square. Beautifully decorated throughout with a range of different seating possies (looking over Rathdowne, nestled in an antechamber or looking into an internal courtyard), Depot de Pain will suit anything from a big croissant-fest with girlfriends through to a cautious first date. Francophiles rejoice – even their welcome will warm your tummy. Checkout the front door image below. Charmant, n’est-ce pas?

Home Truths was warmly welcomed by owner Christopher Vivian, who chatted us through the impressive menu (available in addition to an array of Willy-wonka-esque patisserie and quality baked breads). We chose to imbibe a long macchiato and a croque monsieur, although Christopher recommended the Oeuf Hollandaise en Croutade with sides as their hero breakfast offering. The croque was delicious – a great mix of slightly piquant cheesy interior with a crisp buttery exterior.

All this luscious smoked-ham and Gruyère cooked to golden perfection in french clarified butter. Be still my beating heart. Literally.

Other things you might not know about Depot de Pain is that they also supply their delicious breads to Le Parisienne on Lygon Street, and that they are related to the excellent French Fantasies in South Yarra. This is a lovingly designed mecca to both quality breads and beautifully executed french foods, and replaces the gap in the Carlton North market now that Bagatelles has closed. Christopher also has a pantry of premium quality smallgoods which you can use to whip up your own french fantasy. Ahem.

Auction 1: G15/264 Drummond Street, Carlton ‘Rosso’

Agent: Hocking Stuart, Ben Harrison 0430 457 234

It’s a bit clockwork orange inside, with expensive-looking light fittings and long shi-shi corridors. Glamma!

Time: 10:00 am

Punters: This part of Carlton is right near the hub of Lygon Street (aka Brunetti, Readings & The University of Melbourne), so it’s a safe investment bet. As such there were a healthy mix of investors and owner occupiers vying for the home. Very cool-looking fash-forward bidders!

Review: This was a one-bedroom apartment, located to the side of the block. It had no views, and diffuse light through warehouse windows to the laneway. I personally really love Rosso, with its hushed corridors and designer fittings. The apartment had access to a fairly large courtyard which could certainly be dollied up with an outdoor setting and plants… but it did have some privacy issues. The kitchen was scandinavian-chic blonde wood, and there was a full walk-in-robe in the bedroom. Sweet.

The auctioneer was the experienced Carlton Hocking Stuart Principal Scott McElroy. (Inset below)

Scott had great starter banter, really illustrating the benefits of Rosso as a development. Unusually for a contemporary development, Rosso has very low body corporate fees. (Rosso means red in italian, and is not a colloquial aussie nickname in this instance.) Scott made mention of the ex-warehouse’s former incarnation as the location of University Press, as well as its great potential for investment return from the many students who lease in the area. The auction was opened up quite swiftly at 360k, and continued upwards in rises of 10k with little encouragement necessary. Scott was strong in dialogue, and continually refused to break down the bids to 5k or 2.5k until necessary. The property had three bidders, and pulled up at 400k where it was passed in and negotiated. The property sold for $420k.

Slightly blurry, although a lovely happy photo of Ben Harrison – the listing agent for this property. He’s not doing the Time Warp.

Auction 2: 26 Grant Street, Fitzroy North

 Agents: Chambers Real Estate, John Costanzo

Time: 11:00am

Punters: This home on superbly large land was also opposite the Edinburgh Gardens, which meant that the punters at this auction were mostly family purchasers and requisite neighbourhood local yokels. There was also one really cool little boy who had a Ben 10/Power-Rangers outfit on who seemed to be bidding furiously.

The image above was next to the Contracts of Sale and Auction Rules, and was a lovely reminder to the buying public about the legacy nature of this home. It had been in the same family for a long time, as evinced by the wedding photo taken outside 26 Grant Street circa 1950’s. A charming touch.

Review: This home was very well loved. It was a three bedroom home, but every room was immaculately and girlishly furnished (lots of roses!). You could really tell it was the end of one era and the beginning of another for this home. Perfectly located opposite the Edinburgh Gardens and near a gigantic fun-looking playground, it is also near the heart of Queens Parade and its bevvy of niche shops. John Costanzo called a brisk and efficient auction, making the most of the home’s 350 square metre land size and location. There were three key bidders throughout the duration of the call, which started off swiftly with an opening bid of 1.1 million. Rises of 10k continued upwards as the value of the home rose to 1.4 million before being called on the market. The bidding was so fast at one stage, John’s arms were flying and he acknowledged he was ‘doing the Macarena’. The home eventually sold under the hammer for $1,605,000 – a princely sum.

Beautiful old facade of home opposite 26 Grant Street, Fitzroy North. A reminder of the history of this unique area.

Auction 3: 20 Rutland Street, Clifton Hill

Agents – Nelson Alexander, Roland Patterson

Time: 12:00pm

Punters: It was like a Ramones convention at this cutie-patootie extra-wide single fronted home. So many Generation X’s you couldn’t swing a cassingle of Teen Spirit. The price quoted on this two bedroom residence with good-sized courtyard area was $550-600k which is at the lower end of the scale for a quality property. Perfect for a young couple or single person.

Review: Rutland Street is sequestered away on ‘the other’ side of Hoddle Street, past Schots home furnishings. The streets are quaint, but it’s a little isolated. This home was located opposite a rather sizable block of 70’s era housing commission flats, and the road finished up at the freeway. That said, the council had provided substantial sound-reducing walls to cut down on noise pollution. As auctioneer Arch Staver aptly pointed out ‘You should buy this house because it’s cheap’. Arch encouraged buyers to bid, and a bidder swiftly stuck their hand in the air at $480,000 for an opening bid. Arch graciously accepted, and noted that bids at that level made him feel like they’d ‘turned back the clock’ and stepped back to a property market from a decade ago. Several bidders pushed the property to 606k where it was announced on the market, before finally selling for 645k. A swift, engaging and professional auction which was enjoyable to watch.

Auction 4: 60 Curtain Street, Carlton North

Agents: Nelson Alexander, Peter Stephens

Time: 1:00pm

Punters: This was an older crowd, full of local faces from previous auctions in the area. It appears that the whole neighbourhood was out to see this Carlton North icon go under the hammer. As the home was a unique offering, I can’t suggest it appealed directly to any one demographic.

The interiors of The Cotton Mill, 60 Curtain Street were awesome. They had a definite Grecian vibe going on, with weathered copper heads on dramatic doors in the living zone. Very God of War (Playstation 3 Game, image above) inspired in aesthetic.

Review: 60 Curtain Street (also known locally as The Cotton Mill) sits grandly opposite Curtain Square, a unique brick building that looks like it’ll last another few hundred years guarding over the park. What a space! Definitely a niche-purchaser product, as the home is over three stories with stairs of varying degrees of difficulty on each. But so rich with history, and a home well-lived in. The ground floor had a unique living zone with ‘God of War’ style decorations, bathroom and a contemporary kitchen. Upstairs was another living area with glowing floorboards and park views, plus a separate study or third bedroom. Tom Roberts (auctioneer) spoke further about The Cotton Mill’s history, and noted that it has been a place that Paul Kelly and Archie Roach had recorded music. He spoke of the current owner’s love of the house, as he had purchased the home for the first time in 1982, sold it in 1989 – before repurchasing it again later. How Elizabeth TaylorRichard Burton a love affair!  The auction itself was unfortunately quite silent, with Tom Roberts doing his very best to try and engage bidders in the process.

A live opening bid was underwhelming at $1.00 million on the knocker, which was swiftly followed up by a vendor bid at $1.1 million. The property was eventually passed in (after a brief vendor referral) for $1.2 million. It is now privately on the market for $1.280. Grab it while it’s there if you have a spare $1.28 million hanging around as this is a unique home, just waiting for an equally unique buyer to come along.

Well, that’s the end of Home Truths Two. If you’ve got any property coming up you’d like our journos to review, tell us in advance by emailing info@rubyslipper.com.au Also, make sure to vote in each week’s poll. This week lets you choose which Carlton Auction Home Truths attends.

We hope that you also enjoy the new Vitalsigns page with weekly Victorian Auction Stats, and hold tight for the upcoming Agentsays page. The best of Melbourne’s estate agents telling all!

See you next Saturday!

*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 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.