April 6: What a difference a million makes.

The see-saw continues! Gloom at the very top, cheer below that and some signs of life by the bay.

Take a quick glance at the papers and you may conclude – amid all the chest thumping about clearance rates (are you there, REIV?) – that the worst is now behind us.

Try telling that to the dizzy optimists at the top end. Their winter of discontent has arrived early.

How can this be so? How can all those reports be so wrong?


18 Verdant Avenue, Toorak. Brand new state-of-the-art Rob Mills design with the lot. Supposedly Toorak’s best on offer. Expressions of interest closed at 5.00pm on Friday. By 5.30 it was up for private sale at $8.5 million (and still miles above where it should be).

27 Balmerino Avenue, Toorak. Again, no takers. A vendor bid of $2.4 million and a reserve of $2,695,000. No bids at $2.4 million so you can be sure someone will appear with another $300,000? Yes. Right.

68 Hopetoun Road, Toorak. Not a great house and hands remained in pockets, then came a vendor bid of $2.5 million and a reserve of $3,250,000. You can’t get a bid at $2.5 million so you’re holding out for … another $750,000? Could someone call for a reality check?

58A Heyington Place, Toorak. Not a hand raised, then a vendor bid of $2.9 million and eventually the reserve is revealed as $3,250,000. Now all they need is a buyer who will say, “You want me to pay $350,000 more than you couldn’t get anyone else to pay? Sure. Where do I sign?”

South Yarra: 98-100 Park Street. Totally renovated, fully tricked-up 2-storey Victorian. Vendor bid? $4 million. Reserve? Too embarrassed to say?

Deals will be done, because eventually they always must be; but don’t expect to see a buyers’ stampede for cheque books.

Meanwhile, down the scale a little …

There is still strong interest below $1 million; where the lack of choice is producing some results that surprise even eternally optimistic (it’s in their nature) agents.

For example:

28 Cambridge Street, Armadale. Tiny single-fronted Victorian. Cute but very … tiny. Sold for $910,000 and they would have been happy with early $800?s.

And the loopy persists:

32 Mackay Street, Prahran. Pre-auction offer of $960,000, then a supposed boardroom auction to take it higher and suddenly it was back on the market and passed in at $935,000 with five (!) bidders. It eventually sold for $930,000. Those who decided not to accept the pre-auction offer will presumably have great futures as investment advisors.

Next weekend? It’s Easter. Take some time off.


The crystal ball has snowflakes around its auction scene. There’s just not enough stock to suggest winter cheer. The real action is, increasingly, off-market. Expect to (not, it’s often private) see more of it.


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Bayside: Sun comes out in Beaumaris

Although not publically reported (why so shy?) 14 Coronet Grove, Beaumaris, sold immediately after an expressions of interest campaign for what we hear is a record price for the suburb. It was expected to realise in the vicinity of $4 million.

Although Beaumaris has struggled with sales in excess the million dollar mark, this sale confirms our recent comments that there is a flight to quality at the Bayside top end. You still need an outstanding wallet when thinking of outstanding properties.

With school holidays and Easter now upon us, and fewer properties on offer, the weekend past was always going to be busy and the much-celebrated auction clearance rate nudged 80%. As we warned last week, auctions are no longer the best guides to the state of the market.

While that point was taken up in detail by one of the weekend newspapers, non-auction or private sales data is still largely ignored in the popular analysis of the market. Increasingly, you’re only hearing – for good or ill – only half the story.

Last week, 534 auction results were recorded. 420 sold and many column inches were devoted to their details in various publications. Meanwhile, over in the other world, 589 private sales barely rated a mention.

And so …

Bentleigh had a very busy week: 16 transactions in total but a surprising six passed in at auction. Early signs of vendors again losing contact with reality?

Brighton also recorded 16 transactions, 50% of them private sales.

11 Wolseley Grove, an older style single-level home on 1039 sq m sold at land value for $2.2 million.

23 Yuille Street sold at auction for $2.215 million in June 2008. Its highest bid on Saturday was $1.875 million and the reserve is $2.1 million. Discussions are no doubt continuing.

26 Kinane Street, a substantial 1022 sq m, also failed to find a new owner. Passed in on a vendor bid of $1.7 million, its reserve is $1.8 million. A question of being on the wrong side of the (railway) tracks?

Brighton East fared better with only one auction falling over: 66 Hodder Street passed in then receiving a later offer of $1.276 million. They’re asking $1.38 million.

8 Walstab Street fared better. A brand new townhouse, it had three bidders before selling under the hammer for $1.59 million.

27 Bright Street, an eight room timber home on only 652 sq m, sold for $1.4 million.

12 Leinster Street, Ormond, a renovated period timber home, sold for a solid $1,110,000
Only two sales were recorded in normally very busy Elwood.

The standout was the auction of 26 Ruskin Street, a block of eight 2-bedroom flats, for a respectable $3,130,000.

See you after Easter …


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