A clutch of buyers' advocates turned up to the auction of a warehouse apartment in Collingwood over the weekend and helped push the price to $1.512,000 million.
Seven buyers' advocates, three of whom bid, were at the auction of 24/125 Oxford Street, a three-bedroom apartment on the top floor of the Gibson & Foy building.
Despite their presence, the winning bidder represented himself and paid more than $200,000 more than its $1.3 million reserve.
The competition for the property signalled a definitive shift in perceptions of the once working-class suburb of Collingwood, which has almost defied gentrification in the past 20 years even while neighbouring suburbs have been transformed.
Jellis Craig agent Simon Shrimpton said it was a record price for an Oxford Street apartment. "At the start we thought it would sell in the low $1 millions but we received a much much greater response than we expected and we removed the price after the first week."
Collingwood's gritty edge has started to attract some polish, partly from restaurants on Smith Street, new businesses and cafes and its proximity to the city. "I sold a house at 19 Campbell Street for $850,000 last week and no house on Campbell Street has ever sold for more than $700,000," he said.
Collingwood was still edgy, but attracted a demographic that included gay and straight couples and down-sizing empty nesters.
"There aren't too many families, unless a double-fronted house comes on the market," he said.
The advocates present included David Morrell, Monique Wakelin and Frank Valentic, who represented the losing bidder. Most said they had never before seen so many advocates at a single auction.
Mr Morrell said "it was a unique property and they always attract a premium. But a single sale does not make a market."
More than $1.5 million for a warehouse apartment in Collingwood was too much, he said. "If I had paid that much I'd have woken up in a foetal position."
Mr Valentic said the presence of so many advocates suggested a shift in the market. "It's a sign the market's changed. People have been missing out at auctions so they get in professionals," he said.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria recorded a clearance rate of 67 per cent from 176 reported auctions over the weekend, compared with 68 per cent last weekend and 58 per cent on the long weekend last year.
The REIV expects about 870 auctions next weekend with a further 1210 on the following weekend.
Easter falls early this year, with school holidays starting on March 28. The compressed time period, the bullish stock market and low interest rates have combined to create healthier results than have been seen for a couple of years.
Leafy eastern suburbs agency Marshall White sold 60 properties worth more than $92 million last week, both at auction and privately.
Marshall White director John Bongiorno said "the volume of real estate that is selling on and off the market is right up there with some of the best times we've had".
"People have come to the realisation that the economy is in good shape and the stock market has had a good 12 months."