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.


24/100 Queensberry Street is a spacious three bedroom apartment, located on the third floor of a secure Piccolo construction built development. This is a building that is located near Lygon Street and close to North Melbourne – the area feels a little University-like and not particularly romantic. The interior of the apartment makes up for any lack of location, with three full bedrooms, the master suite with its own bathroom. The living room was very well naturally-lit, and there was the benefit of a large terrace balcony too. Hocking Stuart Auctioneer Scott McElroy made much of the building’s quality Rothe Lowman architectural design and Piccolo  build (they have recently undertaken The Garden House development, opposite the Royal Exhibition Buildings on Rathdowne Street) and the crowd responded generously, with an opening bid called almost immediately at 900k. Bidding was between two parties who went hammer and tong in a brief (although very productive) war of 25,000 raises. Before we knew it, Scott called the property on the market at $1,100,000 – it eventually sold under the hammer for $1,180,000. A swift and happy auction, and a very relieved buyer – this is a long term home in a perfectly sized inner-city development.

*Home Truths Melbourne has gathered this information to provide an interesting document for readers and subscribers. Information contained herein is gathered from a range of sources including but not limited to; local press both virtual and hardcopy, Valuer General Information & Agents own investigations. All efforts are made to verify the information provided. The information is not to be relied upon or used in dealings with third parties and people should make their own investigations regarding their own property or personal circumstances. Opinions and observations offered should not be treated as fact.

Home Truths 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.