Abandoned house trashed by termites turns into real estate gold at hotly contested auction


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Buyer Shaun Driscoll at a derelict home in Arncliffe sold for $145,000 over reserve. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

A collapsing home in Arncliffe left abandoned for seven years has sold under the hammer for nearly $900,000 and almost $150,000 above the seller’s expectations.

It was a competitive auction considering the condition: the walls of the three-bedroom house on Spring St were punctured with termite holes and mould was caked onto the bathroom and ceiling.

The roof, alleged to have leaks, showed signs of bowing, and pieces of the crumbling walls were scattered across much of the floor.

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It is understood the home fell into disrepair in the years after the original owner passed away, with family members leaving the property vacant.

Auctioneer James Hurley received an opening bid of $600,000.

With just 365sqm on title — on the smaller side for the area — selling agent Sam Abbas of Raine and Horne-Rockdale said the main appeal for buyers was the location up a cul-de-sac 750m from Banksia train station.

More than 100 groups of buyers inspected the home in the lead up to the auction and 12 buyers registered. A crowd of about 60 attended the sale.

Most of the interest was from buyers keen to knock the home down and replace it with a modern build but there were also some buyers keen to restore the home, Mr Abbas said.

The home has been vacant for about seven years.

Auctioneer James Hurley of Under the Hammer received an opening bid of $600,000 after declaring the home was “what you see is what you get”.

Five buyers took an active part in the auction, submitting just under 30 offers: first in increments of mostly $15,000 and then in $5000 and $1000 increases. The final offer was $895,000, $145,000 over the reserve.

Buyer Shaun Driscoll said he planned to knock down the home and replace it with a new house for his family.

“I don’t think you could fix it up, it would be too expensive,” he said. “Once you got rid of all the (problem areas) there would be nothing left.”

Buyer Shaun Driscoll said he liked the location.

Mr Driscoll, attending his first auction as a buyer after being on the hunt for a new home nearly seven months, said he wasn’t originally looking for a rebuild project but liked the Spring St property because of the location.

Mr Abbas said the property had one of the worst termite problems he had ever seen but added that there was healthy interest because few other properties were available in the area below $1 million. The median price of houses in Arncliffe is $1.16 million.

In the inner west, another property listed as a potential renovation project also attracted stiff competition when it went under the hammer.

The home sits on a corner block of 365sqm.

Twelve buyers registered for the auction. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

The three-bedroom cottage on Cook St in Rozelle sold in liveable condition but had a somewhat dated interior requiring repair, according to agent Cindy Kennedy of McGrath-Balmain.

Seven buyers registered for the auction, with five submitting bids. The final price was $1.503 million — $305,000 above the reserve and $403,000 above the opening bid of $1.1 million.

“Everyone just went for it. No one in the auction gave up,” Ms Kennedy said.

There were a total 84 bids placed, including a slew of offers that increased in $500 increments.

15 Cook St, Rozelle.

A crowd of about 100 people showed up to watch the auction, which was held in the park adjacent to the property.

Earlier in the day, the sale of a two-bedroom unit in Surry Hills also drew strong interest, with seven buyers registering for the auction.

The property at 32/9 Rainford St, Surry Hills sold under the hammer for $1.17 million, $170,000 over the reserve.

Selling agent Richard Bonouvrie of McGrath-Edgecliff said the home was well sought after because it offered quality fittings in a popular location.

32/9 Rainford St, Surry Hills.

“There aren’t many properties like this on the market because stock levels are so low at the moment,” Mr Bonouvrie said.

Auctioneer Adrian Bo received an opening bid of $950,000 and four of the registered bidders submitted offers. The buyer was an investor.

The home was one of only 250-odd properties to go under the hammer across Sydney this weekend, a similar number to last weekend when 73 per cent of auctions cleared — a year-high.

CoreLogic auction analyst Kevin Brogan said homeowners who listed in the current market would have an advantage because most other would-be sellers were holding off listing until spring.

“Auction volumes tend to be low in winter, but they are unusually low at the moment even when you factor in the season,” Mr Brogan said. “There has also been a pronounced increase in buyers so it may be a good time to be selling.”

Damien Cooley, director of one of Sydney’s largest auction houses Cooley Auctions, said low stock levels were helping sellers get strong results but prices were not “running away just yet”.

“It’s a good time to sell again after it was a buyer’s market for so long,” he said.

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