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15 John Street, Malvern East // Auction: longtime owner shell-shocked by sale

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The $1.517 million sale of a worn Malvern East house has left the 100-year-old owner “shell-shocked”.

Three bidders pushed the three-bedroom California bungalow $217,000 past reserve as about 100 people braved the rain to watch on.

The property at 15 John St exceeded the bottom line set by vendors Maurice, 100, and Eunice Leong, 99, with the very first bid worth $1.32 million.

The couple listed the house they’d owned for 45 years after moving into an aged-care facility.

Their son, Anthony Leong, said he’d called his dad soon after the sale and found him to be “a little bit shell-shocked when I told him how much it had gone for”.

CoreLogic records show the 479sq m property last changed hands for just $53,000.

“It was unbelievably difficult (to sell up),” Mr Leong said.

“Mum in particular was dead set against anything to do with leaving the house.”

Mr Leong — who’s president of the Victorian branch of the Australia-China Friendship Society — said he had fond memories of his father lovingly tending to the garden, adding the grand magnolia tree in the front yard was one of Maurice’s legacies at the property.

Mr Leong said he’d also loved how his academic parents had stacked the house with books.

“There was everything from (books on) antiques, zoology, art history, and they were in many languages,” he said.

Carnegie-based buyer James, who didn’t provide his surname, said he planned to complete a small renovation before renting out the house.

He’d been drawn to its position on “a very quiet street close to Caulfield station”.

Prior to the auction, Ray White Carnegie agent Josh Hommelhoff estimated whoever bought the home would need to spend another $400,000-$700,000 to bring it up to scratch, depending on how hands on they were during the renovation.

“It’s in need of a full-scale reno,” he said.

He said a whopping 175 groups had inspected the property during its auction campaign, with more than 40 prospective buyers requesting a copy of the sale contract.

“There’s not a lot like it on the market at the moment,” Mr Hommelhoff said.

“That pocket of Malvern East is zoned for Malvern Primary School, and it sits just outside the Gascoigne Estate — people pay big dollars to buy in there.”

Auctioneer Matt Hurlston said houses in the estate typically sold for $3 million, but could stretch up to $6 million.

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