It’s not easy being rich

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

Scott Fitzgerald said it:

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”

To which came the reply:

“Yes. The rich have more money.”

… which may not provide great insights into the rich, but does help explain why the top end real estate market does not work to the rules of lower strata.

Unless a relationship has crashed, few moves are have-to moves. People can wait until all the boxes are ticked or can re-model if needed.

If there is loose capital and the stock market beckons its invitation will be heard. If not, private investments are usually on offer. There’s no crying need to be buying real estate.

All of which can make the predictions of agents, pundits and the press fragile when they venture up-market. One of the few reliable signs is buyer depth, but these are buyers who typically shun exposure.

Our take? There are relatively few top end buyers out there. It’s much thinner than agents (hoping for listings?) would like people to believe.

Yes, two properties (amazingly) sold at auction for more than $6 million each over the weekend, but between them there were only three bidders.

A number of expressions of interest campaigns are soon to be resolved in boardroom auctions – at one there may be five or six interested buyers, but that is very much the exception.

It’s not the time for the-sky’s-the-limit.

Evidence? 182 Toorak Road West and 158 Burke Road. Amid crowings of agents, both sold over the weekend – but one for not much different than when it last changed hands and the other for $60,000 less than it was a couple of years ago. These are not outrageous times.

Has there been a rush from the recently rising equities market? Hardly. The chase is on for asset growth and, even tax free, homes ain’t it.

We speak to a lot of buyers (no-one is safe at an open house). The answer we hear most often?

“If it’s a good house, if it’s what I’m looking for, I’m interested, but I’m not going to be panicked into going over the top, no matter what they agents say.”

David Morrell

The Guns of Bayside

Last week’s off-with-a-bang opening salvo in Bayside was, as suspected, a one-off. The past weekend’s clearance rate was closer to the average – but a more positive mood is leading to increased transaction numbers, largely among buyers prepared to pay for today’s value but not for tomorrow’s. The right hand is bidding while the left is on the handbrake, ready to halt proceedings if things go too far.

From both buyers’ and sellers’ perspectives, a satisfactory week – with a few exceptions.

The Brightons’ blushingly impressive 88% clearance of last week fell to a still-reasonable 66%.

The week’s epic was written at 26-28 Victoria Street. A contemporary house on 1440 sq m, with a court and pool, it had been offered for private sale over some months. A new agency took it over and took it to auction – something of a bet, but it paid. The property is not without its faults (you’ll serve into the sunset) and mid $5 millions should have been enough.

Tell that to Mr Hammer and Ms Tongs (there had also been a private offer during the week but the rejected suitor had bought nearby on the rebound). Ms Tongs went to work at $4.9 million, Mr Hammer replied in kind and they went H&T past the reserve of $5.75 million and on to Ms T’s knockout $180,000. It fell for $6.2 million.

A couple of doors away at 18 Victoria Street, a different tale was told. A well renovated timber Victorian on 741 sq m, the goss had it that the vendor’s expectations were set too high. Passed in at $2.625 million, later offer of $2.7 million and reserve now $3.1 million. Good luck on that one.

The makers of For Sale signs have been doing well on Victoria Street. Number 19 will be auctioned on Wednesday. Move back a street and they’ve also been doing well on Albert Street – underlining the strength of mid-level Brighton.

16 Albert Street was bought for $3.5 million mid-2012. Last week it sold again for between that and $3.6 million. Over the road, 17 Albert Street sold early in 2010 for around $4.2 million and was re-sold last week at a close-to-the-chest number which should have had a four in front of it.

10 Newbay Crescent. English style period house. Corner site. 719 sq m. Something for everyone from period renovator to new home builder to developer. All with their hands up. Passed in at $1,910,000, reserve $2.1 million.

42A Roslyn Street was passed in with two bidders at $2.4 million. Post-auction to-and-fro took that to $2.6 million.

Hampton and Sandringham sold 9 aout of 12, including a couple that sold prior.

60 Kingston Street was the highest on the day. Passed in at $2.05 million, it later fell for close to $2.1 million.

97 Sandringham Road was scheduled for Saturday but sold before for a little over $1.8 million.

And luck ran out for the agents who auctioned 26-28 Victoria Street. 38 Bolton Avenue, 2055 sq m high on the hill in the best part of Hampton, has tennis court, pool and views down to the bay. Quoted at $4-4.5 million, the auctioneer started at $4 million, raised that to $4.2 million and it was all over. The reserve is $4.5 million.

Lagging in the stats race came St Kilda and Elwood. 12 sales from 28. St Kilda East and West told different stories – all sold. 47 York Street at $3.13 million.

The mid-level locales of The Bentleighs, Ormond, McKinnon et al continued to sell well with 12 O’loughlan Street on the Ormond Hill the day’s standout at $1.56 million.

Next weekend? Time off for Labour Day and two weeks later it’s Easter. Not a lot of time for all things property.

Damian Taylor

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