Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Monday, January 16, 2012

What You Can Buy On A Budget Of $650,000...

We have been looking for property. It's a dispiriting thing to do. We thought we had a reasonable budget to spend – around $650,000 or so. (Equivalent to US$650,000) Turns out, $650,000 won't get us much at all. Not in Melbourne.

This is what I have found for $650,000 in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. 

Is there even glass in those windows? Look at that poor plant in the front. Applaudable attempt at gardening there. The curious thing is, someone clever will buy this, fix it up and probably make a profit. But not us. 

Or this one...

It DOES have a little awning... Clap of hands at the decorating effort there. Not sure about all those security grills though. Does this mean the street is... a little dubious? Collingwood IS being hailed as a "hot new area". Could be a good buy? But I just can't get past those security grills... Could someone please straighten that awning on the way out too?

Or this one...

THIS house seems so badly in need of some reno love that the agent has forbidden people to enter. 

Yes, that's right. For $650,000 you can buy a house YOU CAN'T EVEN ENTER! Here's the property copy.

Forthcoming Auction - Land Value Only
Currently uninhabitable four room Victorian semi-detached residence offering huge potential within walking distance of tram, train shops and cafes. Comprises: entry hall, two bedrooms, lounge/dining, kitchen and bathroom. Land 6.5m x 30.3m approx (196sqm approx) with the bonus of rear access via right-of-way. External viewing only.NOTE inspections – the home is in extremely poor order DO NOT ENTER THE PROPERTY!

Now we could have taken our $650,000 and bought...

 This little cutie in our own village. It sold for around $500,000. Which seems cheap, but it was a decent price considering  it was fairly diminutive.

OR we could head overseas – to this. A glam little pad in West Palm Beach Florida. With this, we could have have $150,000 CHANGE left over! For a boat. Or a Mercedes convertible. Or our retirement. We certainly wouldn't need to spend it on the garden.

Or this grand brick residence, in the gracious city of Atlanta, Georgia, for $500,000...

And then there's this lovely home, in Boston, for $499,000... No security grills on the window there.


  1. Yes, know all about this.. NOTHING for a reasonable amount of money in Melbourne which is why we have not bought here! (or reasonable enough for us to afford). Very interesting to see what $650,000 buys elsewhere though. x

  2. Oh, and forgot to say, yes would love to get together and meet up for a coffee or something stronger sometime! x

  3. or you could have this one and change in your pocket
    Are you going to leave your lovely house already?

  4. Lol. I looked at 2 of those properties myself online the other day and was shocked too! How do people afford to spend what they do on property here? I am shocked at the beautiful homes listed overseas - are they in inner city suburbs or outer areas? I know you can get a nice home in Melbourne if you are prepared to live in a new housing estate with no character or facilities 1 hour from the cbd! -Sophie

  5. Hi Julienne
    Love the house you kindly pointed me too. If it were not so far away, we'd love to take a look through it!
    We had an agent in yesterday. He quotes us waaaayyy below what we were expecting, which is indicative of the depressed market, so we may have to do a big marketing campaign. It's not a good time to sell, is it? SO different to three years ago when everything was being snapped up!

  6. Hi Anonymous, I think those houses are in fairly good suburbs of Boston, and Atlanta. And West Palm Beach is a pretty place too. We recently found a cottage in Beverly Hills for $800,000. So even Beverly Hills is cheaper than Melbourne!! So funny that you found those places too. We're obviously all looking for the same bargains... Janelle

  7. Your comment that someone clever will pick up the house, renovate and make a profit is probably not actually true! I'm an Architect, worked in property development and can 100% say that most of those "renovators delights" do not turn a profit (the owners might think they do, but they usually are only getting normal market rise, and sometimes not even that). They are purchased by over eager amateur developers for above real market value as they think they are getting an original bargain. You need to get one of those places for land value only to turn a profit. Better value for money (although the term "value" doesn't really apply to Melbourne real estate) are the 80's/ early 90's renovated places that are structurally sound, but ugly. Not quite so romantic as the untouched original. We lived in Albert Park for 7 years. The ridiculous amount we sold our house for compared to it's size still astounds me. We decided to leave Melbourne when a next-size-up house up in our area (unrenovated, 400 square meter block brick Edwardian) sold for $2.9 Million.

  8. Hi Heide, Thank you so much for your note - and for writing such kind comments on the Library blog every now and then. I'm so grateful to have such lovely readers. Thank you also for pointing out the error in the $650,000 post. You're absolutely right. It's extremely difficult to make a profit margin with a 'renovator's delight', especially in this market. I should not have written it, and I'm grateful to you for correcting it. I apologise to anyone who was annoyed by it. In fact, I should have looked at our own situation as an example of how difficult it is. We sold our two South Yarra apartments 18 months ago in order to buy a big old house elsewhere. The price was less than the land value, so we thought we'd been fine. But it has taken SO much work to bring it up to an even respectable standard, let alone a re-sale one! While the budget hasn't been enormous, the time we've put into it has been far more than I expected. And to make things more challenging, the market's dropped! I'm hoping we'll sell it for a small profit, but I'm being realistic about the margin. I can't imagine how difficult and exhausting it must be doing this as a full-time renovator, year after year! (Apparently there are still those who do try.)
    And yes - I'm just as gob-smacked by the price of Melbourne property as you are. I'd expect these prices in London, but not here. Thanks again for the note. Janelle

  9. This makes me feel so old, I remember when you could buy a house in Toorak for that amount. Clifton Hill was less than a 100k. Pretty scary, sometimes I feel like moving back to Melbourne but it is almost the same as London!!


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