The real-estate industry is expecting strong interest in the first auctions of "Mr Fluffy" blocks, which will be held next week.
With the first five auctions on Tuesday, April 12, and the second five on Thursday, April 14, the government is about to get its first sense of how much money it will make from the land that was affected by loose-fill asbestos.
Independent Property Group director of project marketing Wayne Harriden said such was the interest in empty blocks in established suburbs that buyers had scoured the Fluffy lists to identify sites blocks of interest.
When the first 10 sales were announced on a long weekend, it was "mayhem" and the phones didn't stop ringing, he said.
"They are residential blocks without a structure on them in an established suburb", rare in Canberra's sales, he said. Normally, people wanting to build were buying knockdown-rebuilds, which meant paying and waiting for demolition and extra approvals.
"Most people just don't want the headache of dealing with an existing property," he said. "To get a clean slate, as in the house removed, is so much easier than a knockdown-rebuild."
There is no mention of their former status as Fluffy homes in any of the marketing on the real estate websites or on the government's Land Development Agency website, but the government says the former Fluffy status will be declared at the auction and in any case the blocks have now been cleared and deregistered.
Instead, the blocks being marketed as "prestigious street and great block", "an exceptional opportunity to start afresh and build a large home", a "fantastic position on a beautiful tree-lined street in a quiet pocket of this well established suburb" and "a unique opportunity to build your ideal home in an established cul-de-sac".
But Mr Harriden said most inquiries had been from people aware they were Fluffy blocks. Some buyers had combed through the Fluffy list online and identified blocks they wanted, asking him to alert them when they came to market, he said.
"There's a lot of awareness around those blocks," he said. "People who were looking to build in particular suburbs probably went through each block, I reckon they're fully aware of them."
No-one had expressed concern about possible contamination of land, given the government is testing soil only in the footprint of the house, and leaving other structures and areas of garden untouched.
Mr Harriden said of his first tranche of five, most interest had been generated by the 964 sq m in Holmes Crescent, Campbell, a big block in a good street.
"The inquiry has been very strong on all the blocks but whether that translates to hands going up at auction you don't know until the day," he said.
One of the homes selling on Tuesday is part of a large cluster of Fluffy homes in a loop of Julius and Collings Street, Pearce, where eight houses are contaminated with asbestos - partly because Mr Fluffy Dirk Jansen's brother lived in the street.
The Collings Street sale is marketed as an opportunity to build two homes on the block - and Julius Street as a whole could see similar treatment, with the Fluffy homes just over the 700 sq m cut-off. Under the special Fluffy planning rules, blocks over 700 sq m can be divided in two and used for two houses.
The first block sales
- 30 Swinden Street, Downer: 652 sq m, unimproved value $437,000.
- 40 Serpentine Street, Duffy: 694 sq m, unimproved value $344,000.
- 14 Nangor Street, Waramanga: 694 sq m, unimproved value $340,000.
- 8 Parer Place, Scullin: 695 sq m, unimproved value $356,000.
- 52 Collings Street, Pearce: 729 sq m, unimproved value $394,000.
- 118 Osburn Drive, Macgregor: 890 sq m, unimproved value $234,000.
- 51 Holmes Crescent, Campbell: 964 sq m, unimproved value $701,000.
- 30 Nott Street, Fraser: 987 sq m, unimproved value $308,000.
- 74 Darwinia Terrace, Chapman: 1059 sq m, unimproved value $379,000.
- 83 Doyle Terrace, Chapman: 1459 sq m, unimproved value $595,000.
Independent is selling Fluffy blocks in the inner north and Belconnen (the first five on April 14), and Ray White selling blocks in the southern suburbs (the first five on April 12).
Correction: The headline on an earlier version of this article said the auction were on this week (they are on next week).