Cup tips: Buyer’s Nirvana to win, 2nd: Pass In, 3rd: No Sale

“Super Saturday!” cried the touts. “Best day to sell of the year!”

And then, at the top end, just about all we heard were the squelchings of a very wet track. Judged by lack of finishers, the worst weekend of the last 12 months. A few of the good ones did sell and sold well (although even some of those sold post-auction to single bidders, suggesting there’s no great unsatisfied demand). Against that, many others – even potential champions – got nary a glance from the punters.

Have we seen the top? Is Staying Put the new stayer?

Some of the more astute agents appear to think so, encouraging their vendors to sell before or to take the expressions-of-interest route rather than risk a public belting.

Then … why? What turned Super Saturday into Super Flop?

Same old, same old. Still too many vendors who are ahead of the market, still too much over-promising to vendors and underquoting to buyers, creating a gulf between the expectations of both which can’t often be bridged at an auction.

Add to that the great incentive agents have to “buy” listings by promising the impossible to vendors: primarily it’s a device to lure the unwary at open-for-inspections and, in turn, to persuade them to list by offering equally impossible promises. It’s a chain letter written in other people’s money.

All of which builds the already considerable lack of trust between many buyers, sellers and agents. Yet as Super Saturday may have demonstrated, the foundations are starting to shake: those gullible players (the agents’ much-derided “wood ducks”) just aren’t as common any more.

(While on that subject, while less common, they’re not extinct. Some people should not be allowed out with a cheque book; including one excited soul who on Saturday got into a bidding war with … the vendor! Bid after bid. Open season.)

The weekend’s surprise? Ex-pats.

Just when we thought the mighty Oz Dollar had scared all overseas interest off-shore, there they were. More than a few ex-pats looking to bring their families home in January (we have this on great authority, we talk to people) and looking hard where the good schools are – which may help explain the continuing strength of Hawthorn, Kew and Canterbury when even traditional AAA addresses are faltering.

Weekend woes:

  • Toorak, bids as rare as winning tickets in Willy Wonka’s golden casket. Properties mostly passed in on vendor bids with mountains of marketing money spent for no result
  • Armadale. Ouch. No interest, even in two good properties on offer: 60 Adelaide Street and 54 Union Street
  • Malvern. Whoops. Even in ever-popular Claremont Avenue, 115 failed, right next to the school.

Then came Canterbury, Hawthorn and Kew with some surprisingly solid results. At times three and four hands in the air resulting in sales at time hundreds of thousands over the reserves.

Need an e.g. of what a good property can do in even an unsure market? Point your cursor at 29 Wellington Street, Kew. Much interest, and sold well.

Weather forecast? Not happy camping for agents and vendors. The REIV will as usual insist the sun is still shining, but those who take a look out the window will know better.


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Bayside: What’s in a clearance rate?

The weekend clearance rate of 68% at first glance seems reasonable given the huge volume on offer, but that does not reflect the real mood of the market over Saturday and Sunday; often there was just one bidder and then a negotiation after a pass-in.

Bentleigh was Bayside’s strongest performer: 21 sales from 25 offerings.

5 Delhi Street and 20 Strathmore Street shared top honours at $1.2 million. 10 Yaralla Road – $680,000 – brought up the rear of the field.

Beaumaris and Black Rock managed 5 from 10 with 22 Hardinge Street, Beaumaris selling for $1.455 million post-auction and 10 Fifth Street in Black Rock reaching $1.42 million.

However 36 Second Street, a 10 room house on 947 sq m, failed to ignite and was passed in at $1.45 million against a reserve of $1.6 million.

Hampton and Sandringham were busy with the former taking the accolades with several convincing top end results.

Highest on the day was 25 Bolton Avenue where a modest attic-style house with a North facing rear garden of 962 sq m surprised some: $2.8 million.

The well regarded Margarita Street was a hive of activity: Number 21 was offered as land only – 768 sq m – and sold for $1.815 million. On the Sunday, number 43, a renovated weatherboard house on 743 sq m – on the crest of the hill with Bay views and ticking all the boxes – sold for $2.525m.

In the same pocket of Hampton, 2 Avondale Street sold for $1.49 million while 4 The Avenue was passed in at $1.78 million. There was a later offer of $1.825 million but still some daylight to the reserve of $1.95 million.

Elsternwick was busy for the second week running: 10 auctions, with all but three finding new owners.

Of those still looking, 53 Shoobra Road was passed in on a solitary bid of $1.775 million. The reserve has not been publically disclosed but a prior to auction suggestion of around $2 million clearly spooked buyers and maybe the pass in figure is close to the true worth.

The Brightons originally had 46 auctions scheduled for the weekend. There was always going to be a struggle with that volume.

The first five auctions we attended did not see a real bid including a “Mortgagors” auction at 159 Dendy Street. It was passed in at $1.35 million but has since sold at a hush hush price.

The highest price on the day was 13 Weatherly Grove. Although passed in on a solitary bid of $2.325 million, a buyer was eventually persuaded to part with $2.5 million to clinch the purchase and a fair result all around. The same property was offered in the heady days of late 2007 and was passed in at $2.6 million with an initial reserve of $2.9 million. We understand a genuine offer close to the reserve was knocked back. Ouch

37 Lynch Crescent was sold price undisclosed but smack in the middle of its quoted range of $2-2.2 million

14 Bent Street sold, price undisclosed. (OK, a hair under $2 million.)

One of the handful of properties to attract multiple bidders, 12 Hamilton Street saw three hands up and its quoted range of $1.55-1.75 million was always under threat following an opening bid of $1.725 million. It finally sold for $1.815 million.

Other runners?

And then, still in the field:

  • 34 Head Street passed in at $2.65 million. There was a later offer of $2.7 million and at least two bidders circling. Reserve is undisclosed but thought to be around $2.8 million.
  • 8 Kent Avenue passed in at $2.5 million with just one bidder and a reserve of $2.725 million.
  • 14 St Andrews Street passed in on a vendor bid of $1.95 million (followed by a real $1.5 million which was graciously declined. Reserve is $2.1 million.
  • 10 Cairnes Crescent passed in on a vendor bid of $1.95 million with a real offer of $2 million refused. Its reserve is $2.15 million, which is exactly what was offered and refused at a previous auction only a few months ago.

With the Derby Day/ Melbourne Cup “long weekend” coming up next, there will be few auctions with many agents focussed on clearing the backlog from last week before commencing marketing for their late November and early December auctions.

The market to really watch over the next month or so is the very top end of town with a number of multi million properties being marketed in Expression of Interest campaigns.

The feeling is that buyers with over $5 million to spend are a rare breed and it will take something very special to get them to part with their hard earned.


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