July 16. The top end takes a holiday

The pickings are still very slim?

The weekend?s results again showed a strong degree of buyer frustration. The lack of choice is still driving prices higher and there are concerns that August/September Spring fever isn?t going to come anywhere near meeting even current levels of demand.

We have spoken off the record with many of the leading top-end agents. The cupboard looks like it won’t have a lot in it in the medium to short term. This is not unexpected – school holidays have just finished and many agents are only now returning to the coal face to start the listing process – but the signs still aren’t good.

Some vendors may now be turning their minds to selling, but if you look at it from most vendors’ perspectives, why would you want to sell in the middle of winter unless you had to?

The weekend that was: 11 Moorakyne Avenue in Malvern; a good 4 bedroom brick home with a 2-storey extension on 10,000 square feet right in the middle of the school belt – Stonnington Estate with Heritage overlays. The vendor?s expectation was $3.6 million. Five parties pushed the price to $4,005,000 and the winner was an ex-pat. This result again shows how quickly the market has moved – the property over the street (a substantial 2-storey fully renovated 5 bedroom house on a larger block of land) only reached $3.6 million 12 months ago. We are now seeing over $400 per square foot on house and land in the Stonnington Estate.

Another result which highlights how lack of choice is pushing up prices – and the preparedness of some buyers to pay over the odds for houses which are already done up and ready to move in – was Unit 4, 11 Albany Road, Toorak. A three bedroom villa unit (bought for $770,000 nine months ago) which sold for $1,530,000 amid strong bidding from three parties. That is a serious profit in a very short period of time.

At the top end, even off-market, there is still little choice. 4 Scotsburn Grove in Toorak (passed in 2 weeks ago for $4.5 million on a vendor bid and a reserve of $5 million) sold for $4.65 million. The owners paid $2.3 million several years ago and have spent not much more than a coat of paint on it. It’s another demonstration of the incredible demand for premium property in the current marketplace.

Our advice to those who are looking? Be patient, but be ready to move fast on any property that meets your criteria. You only have to surf the net or look at the Melbourne Weekly to realise that the Melbourne market has battened down and is very much in a winter holding pattern.

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