Heated competition for an unrenovated art deco flat in South Yarra resulted in a sale nearly 64 per cent over reserve at the weekend.
The large two-bedroom ground-floor flat at 7/56 Darling Street is at the back of the Bona Vista apartments designed by architect Stuart Hall and built around 1940.
It fetched $1.18 million after bidding from seven parties pushed it well beyond its modest reserve of $720,000. Auctioneer Philippe Batters said it was difficult to value because there were few comparable sales in that part of South Yarra and the railway line was an unknown factor.
"We had huge turn-ups during the open for inspection and large groups of architecture students. We knew we had large volumes of interest but we didn't know if we had the buyers," Mr Batters said.
"We set the reserve at $720,000. The first bidder called out $710,000 and then we had $720,000 and I couldn't get the words out of my mouth to say it was on the market until $800,000."
The 163-square-metre flat was owned under "stratum title": the buyer would own a title to the property but hold the tandem garage under a rolling lease.
That put off buyer advocate Frank Valentic, who walked away from the auction shaking his head at the price paid. "That was the biggest amount over reserve we've seen all year," he said.
Mr Batters said the property was bought by business people who were architecture buffs.