UPDATE: Hat-tip to ‘Edwardian’, one of the Radical Terrace’s favourite commentators, for letting us know that Otley did in fact sell at a loss. The final price? $2.665m. Not quite as bad as we expected, but most definitely still a loser…
It was only in March when we last saw ‘Otley’, a single story 1887 Victorian Italianate villa (with three story tower!), listed and sold. So recent, in fact, we can’t even find a record of its sale price through JP Dixon Real Estate Brighton. Nonetheless, the home popped up on the market today (just a few months later), now listed through Hodges Brighton agents Sarah Korbel and Campbell Cooney. Otley’s return to the market highlights the villa’s roller coaster track record.
Otley, c1890, as seen from what was initially designed as the front of the property: facing west toward Point Nepean Road (now Nepean Highway). Today, the property is accessed from the south.
Let’s start in the beginning of [Melbourne real estate] time: the 1850s (yes, yes, the city existed several decades prior, but for speculative real estate purposes, the Gold Rush marks when shit got real). The Melbourne establishment and professional class solidly resided in East Melbourne and the St Kilda Road corridor stretching to St Kilda Hill. The coastal stretch south of St Kilda belonged to wealthy Western Districts landholders who initially colonised the area, Brighton, as a holiday getaway. By the time the 1880s land boom took hold of the city, tracts of land were speculatively developed along all established lines of infrastructure. City workers were attracted to the train lines that extended to Toorak, Armadale, and Malvern to the south east and to Hawthorn, Kew, and Camberwell to the east. Otley, located south and east of the train lines, was initially located off Point Nepean Road (now the Nepean Highway). For all intents and purposes, it likely seemed as a growth corridor for the developer of Otley (especially seeing that Mt Eliza, further along the same road, became a desirable holiday getaway during the same time). However, not everything turned out as planned, and the bust that followed the boom saw the inland corridor of Brighton (now “Brighton East”) without solid transportation links and only quasi-developed at best. As late as 1945, development only began to creep close to the then-isolated ‘Otley’ (see image below).
At the time of the above image, Otley must have looked like an outsider amongst the new construction of the inter-war and post-war years (and the farm land that existed only a few hundred metres from the property). Other homes of similar vintage to Otley were at least a full kilometre closer to the water in prime Brighton. The Radical Terrace imagines the home was a tough sell back in those days when the Victorian Italianate aesthetic seemed quite archaic, stodgy, and backwards-looking.
However, fast forwarding to recent times, Otley seems to be flip-flopping between a tough sell and a desirable piece of history. Let’s crack open the sales timeline:
May 1998: $700k
Feb 2001: $1.1m
May 2009: $2.95m
Feb 2010: $2.984m
Mar 2012: ???
And now? The home has been listed at a major loss, only seeking between “$2.25m and $2.5m.” OUCH! Most notably, it was discovered, is the renovations that occured between Otley’s May 2009 sale and today. Digging around online forums, The Radical Terrace discovered that most period features in the non-Heritage Listed home had been ripped out post-2009, leaving the home with grey carpeting where original hardwood once sat, an institutional-looking kitchen, and a flat ceiling where original mouldings once highlighted the height of the 19th century home. Perhaps the current owners’ sad renovation is being valued as such by the open market? Even still, the for a four-bedroom home with pool on a 1600sqm block of land, the price seems reasonable, even in the B+ Brighton East location; so why the dramatic price chop? We’re not sure, but we do know that someone stands to lose a fair bit of money and we’re just thankful it’s not us.
The listing: Otley, 1 Clive Street, Brighton East