Belly flop with crossed fingers.

When our market dives, it does it with style. Yes, there was a record number of properties on offer, but at the top end that led directly to what was almost certainly a record number of pass-ins.

What did that look like? Look no further (and any resemblance to any real estate agents of this town is entirely their fault):

A lot of hype, a lot of promise, a lot of agents with fingers crossed and a lot of silence when opening bids were called for. (The smarter auctioneers went straight to vendor bids.) The top end has packed its bags and shot through for the winter.

Those agents who can have taken off on cruises (after the year to April, they can afford to), and it now looks like those vendors who were thinking about selling in a rising market are now considering hibernation. This winter’s record number of listings colliding with dwindling numbers of buyers is not a recipe that promises to rise.

How confused can it get?

Come along on one EOI campaign as it descended into farce.

17-19 Huntingtower Road, Armadale. Good Victorian. 18,000 sq ft. Court. Fully renovated. The hype: as many as six interested parties all putting in expressions of interest – with cheques – at 4pm on Saturday. The fact: one party gets on this merry-go-round while two others look on. All in the agent’s office. 5pm comes around. The agent decides on a boardroom auction.


But the agent won’t say whether there is a real offer on the table or whether it’s acceptable and won’t say what the reserve might be. Those interested are supposed to bid for the right to negotiate, but faced with an agent doing dances of endless veils, they bid … nothing. And why would they? This is a game with more twists than a LeCarre novel. Them that makes the rules make the rules for themselves. Sorry. Not playing. So at the end of the day, nothing results and the property is now on offer at $8.95 million.

Where does this leave a buyer who has played by the rules, only to see them changed and changed again? EOI? Expressions Of (an agent’s) Interest.

Dot points:

  • more and more vendors getting ahead of themselves
  • more and more properties passed in (see previous dot point)
  • fewer bidders
  • good properties still getting bids
  • underquoting still an issue
  • multiple bids and properties still not put on the market? (see previous dot point)
  • June ain’t April
  • agents wearing ad costs for unsuccessful auctions and EOI’s
  • agents bleating (see previous dot point)
  • agents discounting commissions to get listings
  • agents bleating (see previous dot point)
  • motivated sellers meeting market
  • market becomg fairer (see previous dot point)

The goss:

Jeremy Grantham is in Australia, throwing hand grenades, frightening the daylights out of many, claiming the market is in a bubble and will drop by 40%. Problem is, he doesn’t know when. People still need a roof over their heads, in a good area, close to schools, etc. Melbourne’s macro and micro issues don’t seem to add up to world views. Yet.


All calm. No problem. “The top end’s been nuked? Whatever.”

And even Boroondara, which has been seemingly immune to Stonnington disease, got whacked:

Those that did sell were, in the majority of cases, passed in and sold shortly afterwards.

All of which adds up to a lot of vendors wondering where the cheque books go in winter. With a couple of nearly near-miss exceptions:

  • 51 Murray Street, Prahran. Good Victorian, always set to go through the roof, especially with a quote of $3 million plus. Five bidders had a red hot go, but (surprisingly) it wasn’t declared on the market until $3.7 million. It eventually sold for $3.740 million, less than 1% over the reserve.
  • 52 Foam Street, Elwood. Almost a carbon copy. Quoted at $3 million plus. Five or six bidders there at the early $3 millions and two who pushed it beyond. Finally declared, after numerous requests to do so, on the market at $3.6 million. It sold for $3.61 million.

These were the supposedly runaway results?

View from the sewer:

Millions and millions of ad dollars going down the drain with little upside for vendors. It all adds up to interesting times.

David Morrell

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Visit the Morrell and Koren websiteBayside: Frustration is tidal

Three months ago buyers were frustrated by the lack of choice, the paucity of supply and at being forced to pay over the odds for even the most ordinary properties.

The flood onto the market since the end of April has changed the game. Sellers now look forlorn at buyers who are keeping their hands firmly in their pockets.

The vendor’s position was not helped over the weekend with almost 1,000 auctions scheduled, the largest Winter offering on record. No surprise that many passed in and, in a lot of instances, there were no real bids.

With the large overhang of unsold stock yet to be cleared, agents will now be hard-pressed to convince potential sellers to list properties for sale.


Good short-term choices and bargaining power for buyers, but as stock dries up, the tide is likely to turn again. It’s now unlikely that there will be any surge in properties being listed for sale until Spring and even that may be complicated by the coming elections. Many sellers choose to postpone rather than compete with political distractions.

But opportunities for buyers depend on their being realistic sellers, and that wasn’t evident in the middle to top end of Bayside auctions.

Brighton struggled with anything over $2 million, but there were 12 sales from 24 offerings – between $600,000 for apartment 6 at 35 Normanby Street to $1.86 million for 4 Baird Street in Brighton East.

The most entertaining auction witnessed for some weeks was that at 58 Dendy Street. Three genuine bidders, a reasonable reserve and an auctioneer in full flight entertained the large audience. The property was knocked down for $1.53 million.

The adjoining property at 56a Dendy Street was offered immediately after with not quite the same zip. It was passed in with one bidder and sold shortly after for $1.76 million.

Buyers over $2 million were hard to find, although two bidders reluctantly took 10 Cairnes Crescent to $2,075,000 before it was passed in. A later offer of $2,125,000 did not bridge the gap. The reserve is $2.2 million.

Tough going elsewhere.

  • 7 Grantham Court passed in at $2.45 million, reserve undisclosed
  • 3 Grosvenor Street passed in at $3.0 million, reserve undisclosed
  • 6 Head Street passed in at $7.0 million, there was a later offer of $7.3 million. The reserve is $8 million.

Hampton and Sandringham also struggled. 6 out of 14.

  • 31-33 Crisp Street, a development site of 1741 sq m, was the highest result on the day. Two bidders competed strongly before it was sold under the hammer for $2.86 million. Expect to see multiple townhouses or apartments.
  • 10 Ocean Street, a red brick Edwardian on 900 sq m, was passed in. Three bidders took it to $2.39 million and it sold shortly after at $2.445 million.
  • 4 Bendigo Street was left. Unloved. No takers at $2.85 million and a hopeful $3.1 million now the asking price. The property was bought for $2.9 million exactly two years ago so more pain than gain there.

Bentleigh has not escaped the softening in clearance rates with – by their standards – a modest nine results achieved from the sixteen offered.

However a newly released land subdivision in East Boundary Road saw 22 sales from the 50 lots available. They ranged from $550,000 for a small 357 sq m site to $740,000 for 546 sq m.

Damian Taylor

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