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Would you pay $2m for a concrete slab?

By Orana Durney-Benson
25 June 2024 | 12 minute read
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In Melbourne’s blue-chip suburbs, buyers are prepared to fork out big bucks for semi-vacant land.

Head east of Melbourne’s CBD and property in any form is a hot commodity.

Tree-lined streets, quaint Victorian houses, and access to some of Melbourne’s most prestigious private schools make suburbs like Camberwell and Hawthorn among the city’s most sought-after destinations. Unsurprisingly, this popularity is reflected in the price: a median home in inner east Melbourne would cost you $2.8 million.

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But it isn’t just houses that buyers are fighting to get their hands on – even abandoned development projects are selling for almost $2 million.

One Camberwell property currently on the market is a concrete slab lying on a large corner block. The slab is listed for $1,750,000 to $1,900,000 – and according to director and auctioneer Tim Heavyside, it’s a price that buyers are willing to pay.

“So far, we’ve got interest in the range,” Heavyside said.

“It comes with a town planning permit to build two properties, so it’s effectively a development site. The purchaser could buy the land and build their own dream home, or execute the plans that are available and the town planning permit to build two.”

For those who want to build a home of their own design, the presence of the foundation slab could be a hindrance, but for those who are happy to finish the half-begun development “a lot of the hard work has been done”.

“All the engineering, the soil tests, it’s all ready to build,” said Heavyside.

The Camberwell listing isn’t the only property in east Melbourne being sold in a semi-built state.

In nearby Burwood, a large block of land with “partial construction on site for a once planned 20 apartment complex” is being sold in its current incomplete state for an estimated $1,900,000 to $2,090,000. The site does not come with existing planning permission, and all new developments must be subject to council approval.

According to Heavyside, it’s the location that is drawing buyers to these types of listings.

“Camberwell is quite well-known as the heart of the inner east,” he said.

Nevertheless, selling partial builds requires a careful and considered marketing approach.

Heavyside advised vendors and agents to “get their town planning permit rather than just selling it as vacant land, because it just opens the buyer pool up a bit more”.

“I would encourage agents to use or to gain renders for artist’s impressions so it can show buyers what the finished product will look like.”

“What you’re doing is selling the dream,” he concluded.

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