All boom at the top? Not.

The weekend’s activities were … mixed. Even with a reported clearance rate of 87%, the top end of the market is still digesting the leftovers from last year and much remains unsold.

Where competition is strong is well down the ladder: investment apartments between $500,000 and $750,000, family houses between $750,000 and $1.5 million (where it’s not unusual to see three to six families going to war at auction) and well-priced property above $2 million.

We have now seen enough of this year to be picking trends and while there is no doubt that competition from Asia has decreased, the slack is being picked up locally and that’s what continues to drive the market.

More discreetly, over the past month our doorbell has been ringing with a number of estate agents enquiring whether we have clients interested in high end off-market and very private negotiations.

The big question hanging over all this remains: How long can the market continue on its ski jump trajectory? For some, not very long at all:

The well-bought:

  • 338 High Street, Prahran – effectively land value (784 sq metres). An opening bid of $1.7 million a reserve of $2.2 million and an eventual sale price of $2.31 million; leaving three bidders still looking.
  • 11 Airdrie Road, North Caulfield. An opening bid of $3.925 million, a reserve of $4.230 million and sold for a touch over that at $4.265 million.

The end of the month will produce more interest at the upper end when expressions of interest close on 482 Barkers Road, Hawthorn East and 252 Walsh Street, South Yarra (12,150 square feet) and with the auction of 5 Moore Street, Hawthorn.

Meanwhile, up here in the stratosphere …

One of the off market deals that pricked up everyone’s ears was the re-sale of the Baillieu family estate in St Georges Road. Sold last year for around $15 million and just re-sold at $25 million. If it is good, it goes. And goes.

Interesting, also, to see The Age providing self-serving space to a buyer’s advocate to comment on the top end when that agent, at best, only has a view from the distant sidelines.

May we remind you of David Morrell’s comment published here on February 22.

Star Gazing

It seems everyone’s an authority on the top end (estate agents who would like some listings, buyers’ advocates we never see). We suspect there’s a lot in common with the fan magazines’ fascination with the royalty of Hollywood. And is about as reliable.

The top end is our backyard. We don’t rely on rumours, we know what’s happening there (we have, for example, bought more of Toorak than anyone in its history).

And so a word of caution: do not believe all that you hear. If claims are being made, ask to see proof.

Christopher Koren

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Bayside: it’s a tangled web they weave.

You may have read Saturday’s Age report regarding “maverick” agent John Keating being kicked off the REIV’s Ethics Committee after eight years of valiant service.

His one-man campaign to stamp out the misleading and systemic practice of underquoting among his real estate peers has finally lead to his banishment.

Mr Keating is from the old school. He stands both tall and well apart from those agents complicit in misleading their customers (buyers) week in and week out. But it seems those at the REIV, and in particular their Ethics Committee, would rather silence their critic and continue to deny the fundamental issue that affects hundreds if not thousands of people who weekly attend open houses and auctions.

The response and comments in relation to this made by the CEO of The REIV, Enzo Raimondo, to the effect that there was not a problem regarding underquoting is ridiculous. A poll of buyers and attendees at any number of randomly selected opens and auctions would confirm the blindingly obvious.

Mr Raimondo’s reaction to David Morrell’s comments to the effect that Morrell is not a member of the REIV and that “… we wouldn’t want him as a member in any event.” is disgraceful and should be retracted and and an apology issued. (For the record, David Morrell and Christopher Koren resigned from the REIV years ago. They objected then, and still do, to that organisation’s continued tolerance of practices they regard as unethical.)

Meanwhile, back where the Bayside action is, the market continues to bound along with clearance rates now regularly in the mid eighty percent area and a stream of frustrated underbidders left pondering their next moves.

In Brighton:

  • Bayside’s top auction result for the weekend was at 42a Black Street. A single-level Victorian villa on 866 sq m on the corner of Male Street, it sold for $2.2 million.
  • 164 Cochrane Street had strong interest and went for $1,842,500. That’s hefty for a less than prime location reproduction Edwardian on just 554 sq m.
  • A solid brick town house with a basement garage at 2 Campbell Street sold prior for $1.75 million.
  • A previously loved original Edwardian cottage on less that 500 sqm at 111 Martin Street brought $1,046,000.
  • 46A Lynch Crescent, a town house, was less loved: a vendor bid of $1.45 million was later bettered by a genuine $1.5 million bid, still shy of meeting the reserve of $1.585 million.
  • 9 Peacock Street has been sold a couple of weeks after auction at $2.45 million.
  • 27 Albert Street has at last found someone to love it (after parting with $1.69 million), a considerable discount to the initial expectation of over $1.9 million.

And then came the private sale of 14 North Road, Brighton in the Golden Mile. It’s 1523 sq m and has been bought by a developer for an undisclosed amount believed to be close to the asking price of $6 million.

Brighton East was also busy:

  • Highest on the day was 2 Connor Street where a “state of the art ” contempory house sold for $2.3 million.
  • 48 Shasta Avenue (on 630 sq m) reached $1.315 million.
  • 49 Union Street sold within it’s quote range at $1.615 million.
  • 9 Edro Avenue sold prior for $1.521 million.
  • The only pass-in was 13 Churchill Court. A vendor bid of $1.8 million was as high as it went. Its reserve has now been revealed as $2 million, $50,000 above the quoted $1.8-1.95 million.

Elsewhere in Bayside, Bentleigh cleared 17 from 18 scheduled, Black Rock and Beaumaris were well down on listings with only three scheduled for the weekend and Hampton/ Sandringham a little busier with 10 auctions listed for the day with all but two being sold.

42 Abbott Street, Sandringham was the highest priced: $1.42 million bought a 7-room period weatherboard on a modest 493 sq m.

Damian Taylor

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