It’s a fine line | A conversation on mid-century real estate

Following (a fair way behind that is) the sale of this Beaumaris mid-century classic, I thought it would be interesting to get a view from the other side of the contentious/stressful/emotional/ rewarding/enjoyable(?) world of local real estate.

The agent selling that property was Mathew Cox of Buxton and with full disclosure, I have a lot of time for Mathew.  He sold our last two houses at auction and we were thoroughly impressed with his professionalism, engagement and with our results.

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Mathew was born and bred in Melbourne’s Bayside area and worked in the real estate industry for 20 years.  By his own admission, it’s not just the houses he is selling every day but the Bayside lifestyle.  It is definitely a drawcard and I totally understand, as a resident of the area myself.

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The beach at Beaumaris – Part of the sales pitch for a Bayside property

What I hoped to find out from Mathew was where do our mid-century homes sit in the world of the real estate agent.  There is a large fan base for Australian mid-century architecture and what would appear to be a huge demand to buy these homes when they come on the market.

Mid-century style has increased in popularity over the last 10 years or so.  How have you viewed this popularity in terms of the real estate market, particularly in an area such as Beaumaris?

I’m always been impressed with mid-century style as it tends to focus on harmonising these features.  Large floor to ceiling windows accented towards maximising light inside and also providing warmth.

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Also, I have a background in landscaping and have always loved the synergy between combining home features around living both indoors and outdoors.

(A key element of mid-century architecture – JD)

Has this popularity changed the way you market a home?

The popularity of mid-century homes has really increased over the last 10 years as people have fallen in love again with its styling.  I liken it to the car industry and a Volkswagon Combi van and the love affair that people have with it and the dream of owning one, one day.

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Do you research and try to discover more about a home’s history, architect, etc. or do you only use this information if provided by the vendor?

Homes when they are on the market are never in isolation, they are always in competition.  So researching info on the home, the street or the area needs to be done to help the home standout ahead of the pack.  More buyers, more interest means more competition which ultimately means more money for the vendor.

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We’ve sold both times at auction with you.  Do you think that a modernist home sells better by private sale or auction, or is there a difference?

Modernist homes can often be affairs with the heart and not with the head so an auction is the best way to market and sell.  This was evidence with the sale at 19 Bellaire Crt, Beaumaris where we achieved 200k above the reserve price with multiple bidders competing.

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Whilst I’m an auctioneer by trade not everywhere do I recommend you action it.  It must be a home where you know that it has the ability to be guaranteed success.  Some homes may need more than a 4 week campaign to track down the “right buyer” at the right price.

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7 Point Avenue Beaumaris – Currently for sale through Buxton Sandringham

19 Bellaire was relatively untouched and original.  Do you think this is valued more by purchasers than a renovated mid-century home?

19 Bellaire Court was largely original with people appreciating the warts and all styling and the thought of adding their own value, rather than paying for someone elses reno that they weren’t entirely happy with.

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As lovers of everything mid-century, we are always upset to see a house advertised as a development opportunity and with the ‘white outline of death’ title outline over the top of the main photo.  At what point does a property cross this line?

While I would love to get on my high-horse and save every mid-century house, at the end of the day my primary focus is to get the best possible price for the vendor.  I don’t like to pigeon-hole a property as it may alienate some potential buyers, however what we need to do is determine the best target market for the best possible price for the vendor.  A good agent will be able to recognise quickly how a home should be best marketed for the best result.

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Do you ever get a vendor who will avoid selling to potential developers / ‘knock-down-rebuild’ purchasers in order to preserve the house?

Any vendor who loved their house and mid-century style to the point that they wouldn’t want it knocked down, would have generally looked after and/or restored their property.  Therefore it is unlikely to have been let go and be a ‘development opportunity’.

Finally, as a Landscape Architect, I would love to think that the garden of a home adds real value.  Does it?

A well landscaped front yard is your “shop window” and is really important in creating that WOW first impression.

It was great to have this brief chat with Mathew, and I found it as a good reality check.  As devastating it is to see another old house demolished, there are some that just haven’t stood the test of time.

In this world of social media it is easy to have a go at the agents selling these properties (I know I have in the past).  Maybe we need to concentrate on celebrating the properties themselves and every now and then there could be a buyer who has the vision, guts, time (and $$$$) to take on one of these ageing, ‘development opportunity’ beauties.

Thank you to Mathew for his time and I highly recommend talking to him if you are looking to sell in the Bayside area.

The Next Step

And if you have a home and garden that you think could be improved through a thoughtful approach to modernist design then please contact me and we can begin the process!

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