Julia and Tony hit a lonely road.

Silence. Expensive silence.

The top end has been out to lunch, on hols, nowhere to be found. Gone missing.

Top end vendors, however, have been found looking over fences, in bushes, under carpets – wondering where their agents have gone.

Amazing. You  spend $25-30,000 on a sales campaign and when that falls on its face your agent disappears on holiday and you’re left to deal with a 20 year old cadet.

We’re buyers’ advocates, not agents for vendors, but we’re getting calls from more than a few people with stalled top end properties who are asking for our advice on what to do next.

And then there are those considering selling who are asking us whether they should be donating their hard-earned to the estate agents’ new ad mag, whether there’s a market for their property, whether there are quality buyers still looking, whether their sales campaign budget is best spent in print or whether the internet is all they need.

All questions they could ask their agents, if their answers were trusted.

Short answer: good property, fairly priced, will sell. If it’s flawed or if the price is out of line, no $30,000 advertising campaign is going to change anything.

Yes, there’s still a market, but it is no longer desperate, no longer prepared to pay beyond the reasonable or for quality that isn’t there.

That said, the pickings are particularly thin and now the Julia and Tony Show has hit the road they will become even thinner. There’s nothing like an election to cause people to put things on hold and even before this one was called, stock levels at the top end were close to critically thin.

How critical? Over the past three weeks there has been only one top end sale worth reporting.

After an endless expressions of disinterest campaign 17-19 Huntingtower Road, Armadale, finally found a buyer. It went for, we believe, $8.3 million, well shy of the vendors’ hoped-for $10 million or their later asking price of $9 million. No heroes here. Reality rules again.

That’s the top. Step down a rung to the sub-$2 million market, particularly close to the CBD, and we have been seeing one or two other bidders. They are reserved – they have caution lights flashing – but they are less concerned by the market’s weekly fluctuations and are prepared to put their hands up for properties which tick all the boxes.

Long may reality prevail.

David Morrell

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Bayside snores on.

The Bayside winter hibernation was hardly disturbed over the weekend. Auctions were scarce and the few real bidders to be found were welcomed with open arms.

Expect more of the same until the election. As noted above, experience suggests that until Laurie annoints Julia or Tony, real estate activity will hit the pause button.

That, combined with the yearly seasonal low, may help explain the rash of “out of office” auto replies received from many agents. More on that above, too.

Bentleigh, as usual, provides the exception. It bounced back from last week’s hiatus to score 12 sold out of 16 auctions. Highest among them was 51 Mortimore Street at $1,172,500.

The sub-million dollar market is still active, but it’s a different story at the pricier end of the scale.

3 Barkly Street, at $1.33 million, topped the half-dozen auctions in Brighton.

A number of top end sales have quietly taken place in Brighton over the past fortnight, but agents (and owners?) are being very coy about the prices paid.

We understand that 31 Martin Street sold for around $4.25 million, ditto 19 Wellington Street. A third major Victorian, at 37 Black Street, changed hands at “well in excess of $3 million”. Given the correction in the top end in recent months, they’re all reasonable results and reinforce our contention that patient buyers and realistic sellers will be rewarded.

The times …

In this newly constrained market it is becoming abundantly clear that the hit-and-run three week auction campaign is generally insufficient time to attract a buyer looking to spend above $2.5 million.

Average days on market have more than doubled. As a consequence, agents will be under more pressure to justify the extent and price of their recommended marketing strategies and their initially advised price expectations. The double whammy of a big hit on the price promised followed by a $30,000 advertising bill must be testing the equanimity of even the most reasonable vendors.

Damian Taylor

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