1. Tennis Tetris, Anyone?

    Can you imagine the couples tennis rivalries that exist on Hawthorn’s Kooyongkoot Road?!? 

    Having a tennis court adds value to a house, right? Sure, it makes sense. Another amenity, another drawcard, a status symbol, tennis courts are synonymous with prestige real estate in Australia (especially in Melbourne). But is there a point in which a tennis court detracts from a home’s value? Why do so many homeowners add a tennis court at the expense of a pool, lawn, or even a driveway?!?   

    Enter the just listed 34 Ellsa St in Melbourne’s Balwyn North…

    Situated in the sought-after Balwyn High School zone, the home is your run-of-the-mill Balwyn North McMansion: Neo-Classical-French-Chateau-Revival architecture, 5-bedrooms, underground 4-car garage, and tennis court. But not just any tennis court; unfortunately for 34 Elssa St, they couldn’t quite squeeze in a doubles tennis court, so a singles court had to suffice. Was the tennis court addition really worth it? Wouldn’t the family Labradoodle Fido or children Hamish and Edwina gain more utility out of a grassy lawn? Paul Pfieffer and Mark Wridgway of RT Edgar Toorak have the home & singles court listing and want a cool $2.4m+ for the property. 34 Elssa Street, Balwyn North 

    Seeing the above tennis court sandwiched into the property makes you think: would a plain and simple garden or a level lawn bump the price of this property? Is a tennis court only a value-add improvement where significant excess land exists? And if so, are there any precedents where a home has sold for a higher price after a tennis court has been removed? Now enter ‘Carrara’, one of Sydney’s indisputable trophy properties, and a home that has traded hands enough times (3) in the past 20 years to serve as a bellwether for Sydney harbourfront real estate. Carrara first appears on our pricing radar in 1993 when the home sold for $8.5mFast forward to July 2006 and the two-storey manse high above Sydney Harbour and Milk Beach sold for $22.3m, the second-highest price sale of the year behind the $24m sale of the iconic ‘Bang & Olufsen’ house on Wolseley Crescent, Point Piper. In 2007, the new owners of Carrara lodged a $144k Development Application to Woollahra Council including "replacement of the tennis court with a landscaped area.” Speed up another three years and in May 2010, Carrara sold for $26.7m, with its tennis court replaced with a flat, grassy expanse (see below images).

    Carrara as seen from the Harbour

    Tennis court-turned-“landscaped area”

    No tennis played here.

    Looks good to us. Now stay tuned, the Radical Terrace will find our favourite examples of Tennis Tetris and provide y’all with a sexy slideshow. 

  2. What’s Up With Deepdene?

    Ask anyone walking on Swanston Street in Melbourne’s CBD what Victoria’s most expensive suburb is, and chances are 9 out of 10 will say Toorak, the holy grail of Melbourne suburbs. Ever since James Jackson’s 1849 Toorak House became home to Governor’s Residence from 1854 to 1876, Melbourne society shifted from their East Melbourne and St Kilda Road mansions to Toorak and have since remained. So what is Deepdene doing as Victoria’s most expensive suburb and Australia’s 6th priciest?!? 

    Just last October, as Jonathan Chancellor reported, Deepdene came second fiddle to Toorak, but not this time around. Clocking in with just 15 sales, Deepdene achieved a median price of $2.495m, $95k more than Toorak’s median price of 103 home sales. But what explains Deepdene’s expense and why haven’t you heard of it? Well, for starters, the suburb is very new. Although it’s original strip of stores hugging Whitehorse Road was developed nearly 100 years ago, Balwyn quickly enveloped the suburb and annexed it into the 3103 post code. Only in 2010 did Deepdene become an official suburb within the City of Boroondara, after a residents’ campaign (hello, Bondi Junction-turned-Queens Park!). And its high price? Well, it’s a bit misleading; Deepdene did not log any sales above $5m (unlike Toorak and a small handful of other Victorian suburbs), but it does have a consistent stock of homes in the $1.5m - $3m range with very few outliers, driving up the median price. The homes clustering around Whitehorse Road are most desirable and considerably more consistent in their inter-war architecture than neighbouring Big Brother Balwyn. Toorak has a (perhaps surprising) significant number of town houses and sub-$2m homes south of Toorak Road and west of Orrong Road.

    No other suburbs come as much of a shock on the list. Noticibly absent Darling Point can thank too few sales to register on the list (10 were needed). What we at the Radical Terrace would truly love to see is a historical list, charting the relative desirability of suburbs over time (watching the Upper North Shore of Sydney fall off the list and the likes of Tamarama rise up). I guess we’ll just have to make that chart ourselves.

    Photo credit: Property Observer