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A tennis court in Toorak has sold under the hammer for $7.8 million.
The winning bid for the 773-square-metre parcel of land was almost $2 million above the reserve price of $5.9 million.
A house once sat on 16 Stradbroke Avenue, but it was knocked down after the property was bought by the neighbours on the eastern side in 1996. Records show they paid $710,000.
For many years it served as the family’s tennis court, until the multi-million dollar block of land was sold on Saturday morning to a local Toorak family.
It was one of 936 listed auctions across Melbourne on Saturday. By evening, Domain Group recorded a clearance rate of 74 per cent from 732 reported auctions.
Only a handful of vacant blocks hit the market each year in Melbourne’s most prestigious postcode and, as the auction showed, buyers are willing to pay top dollar for a slice of the Toorak pie.
A crowd of about 60 people lined the tennis court’s edges to watch the action unfold on Saturday morning, kicked off with an opening vendor bid of $5.5 million.
Auctioneer John Bongiorno of Marshall White Stonnington accepted $50,000 rises from three bidders before a fourth man, who would go on to become the winning bidder, joined at $6 million.
Two bidders dropped out of the race around the $7.1 million mark, one of them remarking the auction was “becoming silly now”.
“It’s a tennis court!” he exclaimed to laughter from the crowd. Related: Toorak trend of buying up next doorRelated: Mansion’s $40 million sale breaks recordRelated: Toorak shows no sign of cooling down
As the final two battled it out, a bizarre bidding war erupted. A man from Toorak was bidding in $5000 rises, while his competitor was bidding in $50,000 rises.
The Toorak man began tapping his watch and threatened to leave the auction as it dragged on past the 20-minute mark. The other party, believed to be a foreign buyer, complained bidding was “too fast”.
The hammer was finally brought down at $7,805,000 to a round of applause.
The vendor, who watched the auction from a distance, said he was thrilled with the result.
Mr Bongiorno said it was a tremendous auction that showed the current strength of the prestige market.
“It shows obviously that A-grade properties such as this, or rare properties, will be keenly sought after in this market,” he said.
The block almost sold earlier this year for an undisclosed figure, but the sale fell through.
It is not uncommon for Toorak residents to own an adjacent property as it is seen to protect their amenity and privacy. The practice is then reversed when the owner chooses to recoup their investment.