Why Melbourne’s love affair with period homes has never been stronger
MELBURNIANS have always had a love affair with great residential architecture.
Since the emergence of the Victorian style in the mid-19th century, Melbourne’s streets have been lined with terraces, cottages and grand homes from the early, mid and late Victorian styles, through the Edwardian and Federation phase, on to the intricate Art Deco style and development of the California bungalow, which became the city’s earliest spec homes.
But how much does period style matter for buyers today?
Well, a great deal on the outside, according to Arch Staver, sales director at Nelson Alexander.
“I can tell you the most popular style of house in the inner city is a Victorian facade with a completely contemporary interior,” he said.
While it sounds like a home with a split personality, Mr Staver said street appeal was important outside, but buyers no longer wanted to live in a Victorian floorplan.
“It’s entirely aesthetic driven. It’s about how a street looks. If it happens to be tree-lined, has a scattering of Victorian-style housing and it looks wonderfully historic,” he said.
“One of the reasons pockets of North Fitzroy, not unlike Albert Park, remain so intrinsically popular is because they’ve got these uninterrupted streetscapes of Victorian homes,” Mr Staver said.
And buyers will pay a premium for the finished product, which is why homes in suburbs like Fitzroy North have a median price above $1 million.
“A period facade with a contemporary interior will always achieve more than an alternative to that combination,” Mr Staver said.
Wakelin Property Advisory director Richard Wakelin said scarcity helped Victorian, Edwardian and 1930s era homes to retain their value.
In fact, Mr Wakelin said such was the timeless popularity of these styles, that they were among the few building types to appreciate in value.
“We find they are always wanted by more buyers than there are properties available and hence scarce properties experience above-market rises when there’s a run on capital growth,” he said.
Mr Wakelin said good examples with two or three bedrooms were usually priced from $750,000, and higher in areas like Albert Park and Middle Park.
He said the best suburbs for smaller Victorian and Edwardian homes were Armadale, Hawthorn and Malvern. The best California bungalows were also in eastern suburbs like Surrey Hills or Camberwell, or Thornbury and Preston in the north and Moonee Ponds and Ascot Vale in the west.
The Art Deco style was more prominent in apartment complexes in St Kilda, Elwood and South Yarra than in houses, he said.
Mr Wakelin said for a building to appreciate in value, it needed a timeless style.
Victorian and Edwardian styles fitted that description and were usually coupled with high land value. But Mr Wakelin said modern interiors should be sympathetic to the facade. “Keeping the facade and keeping the original features, whether it’s Baltic pine floors, open fireplaces and elaborate mantelpieces, is absolutely an essential ingredient to preserving value,” he said.
“People gravitate to the authentic features that are intact and are blended with a modern extension.’’
Mr Wakelin said even renovated period homes that had dated inside would provide value, as the hard work of upgrading services and structures was done, creating a good base for modern conveniences to be added.