Is that cliff up or down?


Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

The great thing about a market such as this is … everybody’s right. You’re optimistic? You’ll find all the signs you need to support your expert view. You think it’s all falling off a cliff? Look out! There’s a cliff!

While, off-the-radar, real things are happening. Real buyers, real sellers, and the twain are meeting.

And the cowboys playing at underquoting are still confusing their games with sales. They measure success by the numbers they attract to auctions – not by the disgust those people take home. Some agents are becoming famous for it. Their time will come.

The past weekend? Slightly-Super Saturday. The auctions we attended were – at least for vendors – better than expected. Multiple competition. The same was true for private sales.

Off-market is adding up to around half of everything we do and becoming the norm at the top end.

All of which is likely to be the storm before the calm. School holidays loom and then it’s a blink or three and it’s Christmas.

At the coalface:

2/2 Somers Avenue, Malvern opened at $1.8 million, was on the market at $1.95 million and five people chased it to $2,445,000. Interesting result – the unit next door sold 12 months ago for $1,990,000.

A pleasant little house at 6 Hornsby Street, Malvern sold for $1,420,000 and 7 Invermay Grove in East Hawthorn had two bidders and sold for $1,820,000

Up a notch, 5 Grant Avenue, Toorak opened with a vendor bid of $4 million. No takers. The auctioneer went in then came out and started again at $3.8 million. Excruciating silences later, a bidder popped up at $3,820,000, then another, then another and finally four fought it out through the reserve of $4,220,000 and up to $4,420,000. (The auctioneer went inside so often to confer that it probably set a record.)

9 Scotsburn Grove Toorak opened at $3.5 million. Another five bidders. It was on the market at $3,950,000 and eventually sold for a touch over $4.2 million.

How to kill an auction

Think of a number.

$3.5 million plus? Quote that.

Watch the bidding rise to $3.9 million. Pass it in. Decline a later offer of $4 million.

When that’s all done, reveal the reserve: $4,450,000.


It happened over the weekend. You have to wonder how and why. An agent so out of touch with the client there was no common understanding? An agent being too clever by half?

This may surprise those new to the industry: buyers with $3.5 million to spend can rarely be persuaded to part with $4,450,000.

Serial offenders are doing themselves and the industry great damage and, yes, of course we know who you are.

Need examples? Take a look here

Up another notch.

Upper atmosphere weather report: Still a number of seriously large, seriously priced properties hanging in up there and likely to remain so until their vendors come back to earth.

Next weekend?

The cliff before the school holidays. Some will see it from the top, others from the bottom. Some will even maintain that their view is the only view worth considering.

Us? Market trends count for little – it’s the property and the players who create their own markets.

Christopher Koren

Bayside: in patches.

Brighton was busy, the busiest in Bayside. 17 properties scheduled for Saturday.

Three did not make it to the starting line and were sold prior. Of those that made it to the auction only six sold, resulting in a lowly clearance rate of 42%.

The patchiness of Brighton was most apparent with six of the eight of those passed in not recording a single real bid between them

And then came 1/10 Black Street.

A boom style Victorian on a grand scale but on a pocket handkerchief 484 sq m. Beautifully presented, but with cons as well as pros, it was on our list of probable pass ins.

But when a couple of alpha bidders want the same thing, it’s best to stand back.

The auctioneer opened with a bid of $2 million (the vendor would have been cheering anything in the low $2 millions) and then the alphas went to work. On each other.

At $2.73 million it was game over. It’s a number that would have been impressive in boom times and the alpha who lives to fight another day may well have won in the long run.

Less joy was apparent at 36 Were Street, a charming tho dated period house on 900 sq m. The auctioneer’s mention of Council rates based on a valuation of $2.4 million may well have spooked already jittery buyers. It was passed in to the vendor at $1.975 million and although the reserve is a notional $2.2 million, something closer to the pass-in figure should do it. The City Valuer, unfortunately for the vendor, was not seen among the bidders.

1 Foote Street had a more predictable result. Two bidders took it all the way from $2 million to the knock down price of $2.33 million. Good house, great location, right price.

Ditto 5 Cowper Street on a modest 405 sq m and realising a solid $1.55 million.

The sale by auction of land at 2 Edgar Street is notable on two fronts. Although the price is officially undisclosed, we can say that at $1200 sq m or just over $110 sq ft, this is probably the current low mark for land in the area, notwithstanding the B location and the triangular shaped allotment. The second factor was the offer of interest-free vendor terms, a clever move given the time and effort required for planning permits and developer’s finance.

Black Rock and Beaumaris have been quiet recently, but the $1.91 million auction of 11 Stanley Street will provide some hope.

Hampton and Sandringham were steady with the promise of more to come as Spring unfolds.

While underquoting still a frustrating practice that some agents continue to inflict on the innocent, it was refreshing to see at first hand how it can be done so that neither buyer or seller is disadvantaged.

31 Grout Street, Hampton was consistently quoted to the public at $1,050,000-$1,150,000. Three bidders were involved with a little initial assistance with two vendor bids to move things along. At $1,150,000 it was declared on the market and sold for another $5,000. Couldn’t be simpler. Clean, transparent, nobody upset. Listed accurately, quoted properly, sold fairly. Well done to those involved.

Although Sandringham generally did well on a small turnover, the flagship offering in the suburb’s dress circle of Fernhill Road failed to ignite. Number 47 is a comfortable and generous family residence on exceptional land of 1657 sq m in one of the best locations in Bayside. It passed in at $2.25 million and the reserve is withheld but anticipated to be north of $2.5 million.

Next weekend is the big one for September and it will be followed by, we believe. a game of football; and then school holidays are with us again.

Tempus fugit.

Damian Taylor

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