Why Mel­bourne’s love af­fair with pe­riod homes has never been stronger

Herald Sun - Property - - FRONT PAGE - PETER FARAGO

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.

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