June 29: It’s party time!

… and everyone’s invited.

Auctions are booming, private sales the same. Even the wallflowers of summer (expressions of interest) are resulting in winter romances.

Dance! Like it’s 2007!

2007? Didn’t that come just before (shudder) 2008?

Yes. But there are differences. The clearance rates we’re seeing now (at least at the top end) are being driven by some of the lowest stock levels we have ever seen. And that isn’t about to improve.

There’s usually a lull at this time of year but, usually, looking forward to August/September there are long lists forming of properties which will be for sale during Spring.

Not this year. This year the air is as full of agents’ prayers as the weekend papers were full of their advertisments pleading for listings.

We’re back to chickens and eggs: while clearance rates suggest this is a good time to sell, the lack of choice suggests it’s a tough time to buy. So what does a vendor do? For many, it’s sit-on-hands time.

What are we saying to our buyers? Same as always: Only buy what you really want; if that’s not available, then wait.

Game of The Week?

No, not dummy bidding. That’s every week. The winner this week was the agent who, following an auction which had two bidders and was passed in, offered the highest bidder a reserve $100,000 above the reserve offered to the underbidder. The agent’s strategy is obscure (was he hoping to sell to someone who would list another property?), but if “highest bidder gets first right of refusal” means losing to someone who can buy the property for $100,000 less, there’s a lot to be said for underbidding. And how happy would the vendor be?

In a year when little has sold for over $7 million, last week brought two notable exceptions:

  • 63 Albany Road, Toorak sold for $8 million after an expressions of interest campaign. This was a solid result as it was a developer turning the house over, but it again underlies our belief that buyers will pay handsomely for fully renovated properties which are ready to move into.
  • The extreme exception to the “buyers will pay handsomely for fully renovated …” rule was 64 Hopetoun Road. Much publicised mortgagees auction. A new house which still needs $2-3 million spent on it (real money pit, real problems). It sold for a whopping $7,075,000 with three bidders in front of 500 fans. Footy is not the only sport played in Melbourne.

Less lustrous was 74 Park Street, South Yarra: 2 storey Victorian, sold for just $2,520,000.

We also managed to sneak a bargain or three when we bought properties for considerably less than their vendors had paid.

Elsewhere, quality sold and agents’ minds appeared to be on wrapping up sales quickly (never mind the vendor) and heading for the holidays.


There will be little to report so Top End Trends will be very quiet for a couple of weeks. You will not see us in the shadows, but we will be around: hunting out gems we know are there.

David Morrell

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Bayside: Brighton shines

Although the numbers of onlookers were well down on last week (they were probably all at Hopetoun Road, above), bidders were still active at the vast majority of auctions held in Bayside; and Brighton continued to perform well across all price catergories.

Private sales are still the method of choice at Brighton’s top end:

  • after more than six months on the market, an as-new house at 25 Cosham Street, Brighton finally sold for a shade under $6 million…
  • … leading to arched eyebrows among many in the know, as 7 Cosham Street, on similarly-sized land, sold this week for just $2.97 million – even allowing for the new house which will certainly be built, that’s a gap which won’t be bridged. They’ll be happy chappies at 25
  • and third agent lucky with the sale of 7 Manor Street. A totally made-over house on 1200 sq m, it has a tennis court and snappy pool but apparently that’s not good enough: the intention is to bulldoze the lot and to start again. At $4.075 million for the land, this will have to be some new house.
  • 1/9 St Ninians Court a new apartment in the Golden Mile, changed hands at $2.75 million.
  • 39 Meek Street, Brighton found a new owner for a mere $1.85 million.

The standout auction result was at 95 Cochrane Street, Brighton a brand new spec house on a modest 565 sq m. Following a passionate auctioneer?s spiel before a large crowd (those left over from Hopetoun Road?), an opening bid of $2.6 million was met with prolonged silence until a $20,000 vendor bid was countered with another $20,000 from the only real bidder before the property was passed in at $2,640,000. Some fast talking later, a sale was concluded at $2.85 million, a really strong result for the location.

20 Wallace Grove, Brighton also sold after brief negotiations following its auction. Again only one bidder, who opened quickly at $2.2 million, was countered almost as quickly with a $100,000 vendor bid and then the property was passed in. The sole bidder finally upped the ante to an irresistible $2.4 million.

The recovery in the Bayside market is well illustrated by the auction result at 66 Black Street, Brighton. A 1970?s house on 814 sq m, it last sold in February 2008 for $1,925,000 with the intention of demolishing and rebuilding. Only four months ago, it would have struggled to realise much over $1.75 million, but it sold on Saturday for $1,930,000. Again, the intention of the new owner is to bulldoze and rebuild.

A new town house at 16 Whyte Street, Brighton on only 371 sq m, sold for $1.9 million.

A contemporary but not new house on 435 sq m at 4 Lynch Street, Brighton sold for $1.85 million.

5 Yuille Street, Brighton on a northerly rear facing 700 sq m allotment, was snapped up prior to auction for its land value of $1.65 million.

Into East Brighton, the best result of the weekend was 25 Baird Street a near-new house with a pool and on 620 sq m. A gently paced auction saw three bidders take it to $1,870,000 before it was passed in and sold shortly after for the same price.

1 Margaret Street eventually sold after being passed in at $1,135,000 – post-auction discussions brought it to $1,152,500.

Hampton was down on auctions, but 40 David Street on 662 sq m, sold for $1.4 million while 37 Sargood Street sold privately for $1,255,000.

Beaumaris and Black Rock had the week off and even Bentleigh was quieter: only five auctions and a few private sales.

See you when the lull is broken …

Damian Taylor

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