Our speaker on Monday was well known local real estate agent Richard Earle, one of the initial principals of Jellis Craig and current Director based in Hawthorn. He has served as a peer elected Director of Real Estate Institute of Victoria for the past ten years.
Richard’s subject was “Heritage overlays in Boroondara” but his fascinating and informative talk touched on many of the real estate issues of concern and interest to our members.
Richard said that we like heritage overlays because “we like what we have”. We want to protect the streetscape and the architecture of our area but, compared to situations in most other countries and major cities in the world, the change to higher density is inevitable. Residents are aging and family homes and gardens becoming more difficult to manage with children leaving home etc.  One of our members was recently described as “an elderly downsizer” and this is typical of our area profile as large homes and properties are being sold and developed with townhouses. In turn, our Melbourne population is increasing rapidly and many high net worth Chinese and other nationalities (some born here as second generation) want to send children to leading local schools and live close to those schools. They do not want older style 1920’s architecture. The inevitable result is the removal of lovely old homes with character and high density development often without any character (the latter is a personal opinion and emotional comment). In Richard’s view, these trends are leading to “the brakes being put on through heritage overlays”.
Richard advises that good real estate in Boroondara doubles in value every ten years. It is much cheaper to build than renovate and land values can be anything from $2k -$3.5k per square metre. Renovation is leading to changes in house design, eg dining rooms are disappearing and being replace by studies and games rooms. In most large European cities, development is restricted to five or six stories for apartment dwellings - here it can be twelve stories and we must protect our environment and streetscape.
Interim heritage overlays create uncertainty for buyers and impact on house values and buyers. Richard shared a personal experience in Kew. There was approval for a development of six units and all residents in the 40 home street formally opposed the development  unsuccessfully. Three of the six units were sold to three of those who objected.
We thank Richard and his excellent associate Lloyd for a most interesting and absorbing talk and presentation. The number of questions at the conclusion were testimony to another outstanding guest speaker at our club. We note with interest that Richard is a beekeeper and has hives on his property at Birragurra. We will stay in touch with him personally and professionally and hope we see him and Lloyd at our club regularly in future.