Period houses with contemporary flair defying expectations in inner Melbourne


A smartly-renovated period house with contemporary flair is a near bullet-proof real estate commodity in inner-city Melbourne. And it’s easy to see why. 

Period homes with contemporary extensions boasting every mod con attract the highest number of prospective inner-city buyers because many are located in high-quality streets and positions.

For buyers, these properties offer the best of both worlds: contemporary and shiny on the inside, but with an historical Victorian or Edwardian façade that points to provenance and heritage.

Nelson Alexander auctioneers have overseen dozens of exceptionally strong results for well-presented period houses in the past 12 months.

For example, a freestanding renovated Victorian home at 108 Park Drive, Parkville, was quoted by Nelson Alexander at $3.6 million to $3.85 million before going to auction on October 21.

108 Park Drive, Parkville sold under the hammer for $5.6 million

But the auction produced a tearaway result, with the three-bedroom property selling under the hammer for $5.6 million.

The auctioneer, Nelson Alexander Sales Director Arch Staver, easily landed a $3.4 million opening bid for the home and declared it on the market, after an inquiry from one of the bidders, at $3.82 million.

There were four bidders in the auction at $4 million and three bidders above $4.5 million. From $4.6 million onwards, two bidders pushed the Park Drive home a further $1 million up to the final selling price of $5.6 million.

The vendors of the property, architect Roger Wood and wife Shelley Lasica, had carefully renovated their home, adding open-plan style and classical design features. More than any other factor, it was the quality of the renovation that generated competitive bidding and a super-strong selling price.

“The renovation of the house was 15 years old but it remained current and it remained tasteful,” Mr Staver says.

“The reason for that was because an architect was involved in the renovation.”

Quality double-fronted and single-fronted homes are defying expectations in a Melbourne market that data real estate companies say is now moderating after experiencing boom-time rates of growth between 2012 and 2017.   

Mr Staver says in any construction and design overhaul of a period house, the façade should remain in period style, but beyond that crucial presentation factor, the space and facilities needed for modern living are all-important.

“The internal part of the building needs to be architecturally designed and considered for how we live today,” he stresses.

“People have different expectations about their living spaces these days, and I think design is very, very important.”

Buyers are looking for timeless design.

He says while the traditional period home with a contemporary renovation is the most coveted form of real estate in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, buyers are becoming more knowledgeable about what they purchase or opt to bid for: “They are looking for timeless design, rather than what is current and now. A lot of the elegance needs to be in the simplicity, and architects are so talented at achieving that quality.

“And most importantly, architects know how to use space.”

Mr Staver says he can step into a home to conduct an appraisal and quickly tell the difference between an architect-led renovation and one that is not.

“The difference between an architect-designed renovation and an interior design enthusiast’s house is so apparent and so stark. Buyers are becoming much savvier and they recognise these differences.”

Nelson Alexander sales executives are tracking very strong demand for scarce double-fronted houses in Melbourne’s city-fringe areas. This is in part being driven by downsizers who are flexing their financial muscle and trying to out-bid young families for double-fronted homes.

Continuing strong interest from downsizers and young professionals is also being seen for renovated single-fronted homes in near-city locations.

If you would like to discuss your real estate needs on a no-obligation basis, please contact any Nelson Alexander office.

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