Hunting season

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

It’s on. The estate agents of the land are out practising their duck calls.


Ducks? Wood ducks. The industry’s term for buyers who can be bagged without a shot being fired.

Today’s calls sound just like: “The boom is back! Buy now before prices rise above ceilings!”

And, yes, there have been sales over the past weeks — especially at mid- and lower-levels — which do show signs of a rising market. But the weeks are still too few to draw conclusions about the bigger picture.

There are dangers here for both buyers and sellers — especially vendors who ask for more than buyers are prepared to pay.

Under-quoting, cont’d.

A story that began around six months ago. It’s a good house, the agent says it’s exceptional and it will be: “… sold this week, in the high 4’s.”

And that’s what the owner told us.

Next thing we know the agent is sacked. There’s a new agent and it’s now up for auction. New quote: $3.5-4 million.

Buyers circle.

The quote has changed, the price has not.

Wrong. Twice. Us.

We’ve said more than once that talk of whale-size overseas buyers prepared to pay over the odds was no more than agents’ wishful thinking (and wood-duck calling).

Last week, a couple of whales beached. Each paid over $2 million more than locals would consider.

Even pokies pay sometimes.

Sees saw

The balance is shifting. While prices have not changed much, there has been more activity (needed, it was dead) and buyers are looking for sellers more than the other way ’round.

Some vendors are taking this as a signal to raise their prices.

See duck calls above. It cuts both ways.

Same flowers, new pots

Hope springs eternal. We’re seeing a number of failed off-market winter campaigns emerge into the sunlight of Spring; backed by large ad budgets.

Time will tell.

Back on bike

Asking $7 million plus. Three failed marketing campaigns in the past 12 months.

Suddenly, two buyers in the offing.

Christmas looms and there’s little choice.

Lemons is still lemons

OK. Make lemonade.

But a lemon is a lemon is a lemon and 80% of what we’re seeing is yellow fruit.

David Morrell

Bayside: Ticking

The Grand Final and September school holidays have passed without trace. Sales are still ticking over and we now face the yearly ambush of year’s end.

“Can it be this close to Christmas already?”


Those thinking of selling have precious little time left if it is to be this year; but those persuaded by talk of booms and bubbles are likely to be disappointed — it’s only the lovers of headlines who are out and talking. Again.

The real story is that prices have barely recovered to the mini-peak of 2010 and the former high of 2007 is a mountain yet to climb, but “Prices barely recovered!” isn’t much of a headline, so don’t expect to read it.

That said, when markets do show signs of recovery, there’s often a quality property which achieves a runaway result and there has been a little of that happening — but it’s not a game an informed buyer will choose to play.

This recovery is also quite property- and area-specific. There are more buyers but they’re careful. There have been too many stories of buying in haste and repenting at (years of) leisure.

The week

Not many auctions over the weekend and most interest in those was around villas or what we used to quaintly call flats but are now investment-level older-style apartments.

As noted before, it’s frequently a competition between investors with superannuation cash and borrowings competing with younger people looking for somewhere to buy then discovering that their elders have deeper pockets. This seems likely to continue for as long as the relatively wealthy are looking for yields higher than cash and less volatile than shares — or to diversify. The kids are having to look further out or to find homes to lease.

The notable

  • 89 Cochrane Street in what used to be Gardenvale. Rambling, period style house on over 1600 sq m. Sold privately for between $4.5 and $4.7 million. Strong result.
  • 38 Bolton Avenue, Hampton. Substantial house, 1800 sq m on the top of the hill. Previously “sold” for $5 million with conditions that were not met then auctioned some months ago and passed in on a vendor bid close to $4 million and a reserve above that. Finally sold for a reported $3.7 million. Was the ask too much?
  • 12 Heath Street, Sandringham. Well renovated and extended timber house in a good location which sold four years ago for $1.8 million. Sold again two weeks ago for $1.9 million. Not exactly a boom price.


Three weeks of abundance: auctions, EOI’s and private sale stock.

Damian Taylor

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