Blame, anyone?

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

Where did everybody go? Why has the top end … disappeared?

And who’s to blame?

Nobody’s short on theories: It’s the carbon tax, it’s the Oz Dollar, it’s the long weekend (really?), it’s school holidays, the weather, the footy, the…

Our turn: At the top end it’s because there’s next to nothing for sale for a reasonable price.

The buyers are there. They’re aware of all the reasons why this is not a good time to be looking (doom approacheth, etc), yet look they do. And they have their own personal reasons for doing so.

Then why is so little available?

You don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for clues. As we have commented before, you can’t jog far in suburbs such as Toorak without falling into someone’s skip. With so little to move to, those who may have moved on in the past are now staying put and renovating.

[pullquote]There’s so little available because there’s so little available.”[/pullquote]It’s a circle: There’s so little available because there’s so little available.

Litmus test of the renovation market is our friend the timber merchant. His trucks are now on the road non-stop.

And all this is playing out against a background of just about everybody telling you they know just about everything. People who were selling cars or life insurance last week are suddenly the oracles of property.

But not only them. The Fin Review reports estate agents numbers being down by 10,000 this year (good start) and a fair whack of those are hanging out buyers’ advocate shingles.

Which is nice. Always room for more. But changing sides also requires changing minds. An agent measures success by transactions done, an advocate by clients whose needs are met. They are not the same and it is not an easy transition.

So. What’s going on in the shop?

Things are still happening out of the public eye; but not at the levels we saw last year. Still, some who have been left alone at the altar have at last found suitors.

And, as always, exceptions:

5 Barnard Road Toorak sold very quickly for $7 million. A good result given it was apparently bought for $6.5 million in a heated market.

Perennial wall-flower Fairlie Court may have at last found love, but not at the $10 million mentioned as its dowry. Patience works. So does reality. Correction: And then we heard that, no, a suitor is still being sought.

51 Chrystobel Crescent, Hawthorn. Good house, good price. Sold. It happens. Correction: Not always. Two bidders saw it pass in at $3.05 million. The reserve is $3.5 million.

3 Towers Road, Toorak. $30 million. No sold sign. No more to be said.

And still there are agents persuading their clients that it’s a good idea to spend $30,000 on advertising now – while those they’re spending it on are somewhere where there’s sun or snow.

Next weekend? Ma’am’s birthday. We’ll be back the week after.

David Morrell

Bayside: If wishes were horses…

… beggars would ride – is an aphorism which has been around since the 16th Century (thanks, Google) and it’s still getting a trot in Bayside.

Rephrased by some local luminaries into: “There’s renewed buyer activity! There are multiple bidders!”

So that’s good. And that’ll be a new BMW in the mail. Promise.

What are we really seeing? Not a lot of action over the past week; and few private sales. With the mid-year long weekend almost on us and winter well and truly here, activity is still slowing on the back of underwhelming buyer confidence and a limited selection of quality offerings.

Which is not an argument to give up the search altogether. There are still gems to be found; but the finding is certainly harder.

And then to the news that was:

[pullquote]… two genuine but frugal bidders who each put in one bid.”[/pullquote]The standout auction: 20 St Ninians Road on the corner of Dudley Street in Brighton’s Golden Mile. Last sold just on two years ago for $2.74 million, it’s a presentable single level townhouse on just 574 sq m. The auction produced – remarkably – two genuine but frugal bidders who each put in one bid before the property was passed in at $2.97 million. Following an outbreak of good sense, that offer was accepted shortly thereafter.

Elsewhere in Brighton bidders were ducking for cover:

18 Carpenter Street was passed in at $1.75 million. There was a later offer reported to be $1.8 million and the reserve remains a mystery.

35 William Street was passed in on a vendor bid of $1.75 million and the reserve again confidential.

Among Brighton’s slim pickings was one notable private sale: 4 Belle Avenue, Brighton, sold for $3.62 million.

Elsewhere in greater Bayside the pattern continued with the lower to middle end (up to $1 million) travelling reasonably well, but with the tap turned off for almost everything over a million.

Seems our reports are incomplete without a mention of our favourite performing suburb(s), the Bentleighs.

With a rare zero number of auctions held in Bentleigh, attention moved East with a total of 11 auctions producing just six sales. Even the bullet-proof Bentleighs are not immune from the chilly winds of a cooling market.

Enjoy your birthday, Your Maj. And we’ll see you, commoners, the week after.

Damian Taylor

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