In the early 1800s, a pioneer settler in the area named his country estate Ivanhoe, after the popular medieval-themed novel by Sir Walter Scott.
Those early country homes were soon joined by farms, orchards and market gardens, and the suburb was later developed for residential housing and public amenities.
Ivanhoe is among Melbourne’s most tightly held areas, with fewer than a dozen houses on the market in winter 2021.
Families tend to remain here for decades, made comfortable by the leafy surroundings, premier schools, community safety and easy access to the city and world-class health facilities nearby.
Many older properties and larger blocks have been converted into chic, high-rise apartments and designer townhouses, which are giving the suburb a more cosmopolitan edge.
With the Yarra River on its southern boundary and Darebin Creek to its west.
Ivanhoe retains its charm with its quiet neighbourhoods, village-style shops and acres of green spaces.
This combination of greenery, schools and quality infrastructure makes Ivanhoe a top destination for families and younger homebuyers, according to local property expert and Barry Plant agent James Goulopoulos, who was born and educated in the suburb.
“It has excellent private and public schools, train and bus routes, shops plus cafes, bakeries and restaurants,” Mr Goulopoulos said.
“Another selling point is its proximity to the city, and there is a golf course and easy access to nearby Austin and Repatriation hospitals.”
The area’s real estate market has long been dominated by landed properties that include stunning period mansions, art deco houses and more modest family homes.
“Many older properties are being renovated and extended into modern family homes as buyers want to take advantage and enjoy the amenities Ivanhoe has to offer,” Mr Goulopoulos said.
The small suburb just 10km from the city recorded a population of 12,171 in the 2016 Census.
In recent years, more developers have been turning larger blocks into townhouses and apartments to appeal to buyers with budgets of less than $1 million.
“The suburb is very tightly held and prices are very buoyant because of the limited supply of good quality homes,” Mr Goulopoulos added.
Buyers need a large budget to move into the strategically positioned suburb, with the median house price at $1.685 million, according to realestate.com.au data.
House sales have decreased significantly, falling from 185 sales in 2015 to just 71 in 2020.
Units, apartments and townhouses have a median price of $720,000 and the number of sales of these properties have also declined steadily, from 185 in 2014 to 118 in 2019 and just 69 in 2020.
With a third of the residents in Ivanhoe in rental accommodation, houses fetch an average $600 rent a week while units generate $430.
A tight supply of homes and keen buyer interest result in multiple buyers and bidders for each listing, and properties stay an average 14 days on the market, according to Mr Goulopoulos.
Vendors are also being enticed with strong offers from buyers prior to auction as a result of the strong market conditions.
Barry Plant sold 124 Valentine Street, Ivanhoe, for more than $1.5 million before auction during the recent lockdown. It was on the market for two weeks and the offer exceeded the vendor’s expectations.
Residents have a wide variety of sports and cultural amenities to choose from, with the latest being the multi-million dollar Ivanhoe Library & Cultural Hub.
Finished in early 2021, it features a library, art gallery, conference and meeting spaces, health consulting suites, theatrette and a café.
Each year, thousands of visitors and revellers also descend on Ivanhoe and its most famous street, The Boulevard, where homes are decorated for the annual Christmas Lights display.