Labour pains

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

It was like the fathers’ room in a maternity hospital – pre-ultrasound. No-one quite sure what they were about to be presented with and shrouds of mystery and concern hovering over the entire process.

Another bloodbath on the stock exchange. Would it lead to a vendors’ nightmare? Would we, as happened in GFC1, simply look the other way while our stuttering market stuttered on?

[pullquote]… the delivery is still dragging on.”[/pullquote]Love to tell you, but the delivery is still dragging on. This market is still in labour.

Problem is, at the top end, there’s really been too little to test it. Yes, in the few (very) AAA properties which did come up there were three and four hands raised, but there were so few of those that you really couldn’t draw any conclusions.

Even down the ladder (see Bentleigh, below), Victorians’ love of bidding seems to have faltered – right down to agents letting up on one of our market’s great anachronisms: the vendor bid. What is this? It’s a shift as fundamental as a Collingwood supporter abandoning footy for rugby. No rainbows being chased here.

The top end is still being choked by vendors refusing to take tickets in what was a lottery with some very large prizes – the kinds which occurred when auctions were frenzies. Happily for we on the buyers’ side, those days have passed.

And that will make Thursday’s auction of 8 Myoora Road, Toorak more than usually interesting. It’s been quoted at $11 million plus and that is considerably less than the rumours had it prior to its formal listing. Coming on the back of an $8 million plus auction in Armadale (still available) and a $13 million plus Expressions of Interest campaign in Toorak (ditto), there may be more time in the waiting room ahead.

Yes, we’re still seing action at the top end, but it is (if possible) more private than ever. It’s a who-you-know market in which price, interestingly, is a lesser part of the equation – it’s more about who wants to sell and how highly would-be buyers regard what is offered. As a group they tend to be less affected by margin calls than those further down the scale. As a group, currently, we’re seeing more buyers than sellers.

Need an index of the health of the top end market? Take a look at what’s advertised for sale this year compared to last. You can measure optimism (both agents and vendors) by the amount spent on advertising – who needs Standard & Poors? – while the agents are still talking of a Spring revival, right now it looks like we’re already in the Christmas holiday doldrums.

David Morrell

Bayside: Beware light in tunnel

Just when it seemed the clanging bells had fallen silent and it was safe to cross the tracks, along came that speeding freight train and a scramble for safety. A week ago buyers were daring the market; over the weekend, most turned to water.

[pullquote]Even The Bentleigh Twins left their tap shoes at home.”[/pullquote]Even Bayside’s darlings, The Bentleigh Twins, left their tap shoes at home. Just five sold from the 16 offered – they’ve rarely had such a tough review – and it was the low end that suffered most. That’s not supposed to happen, Daisy.

Bright spot? Just the one: 185 East Boundary Road. Sharply renovated, big on style: $1.02 million.

The rest? The less said the better.

Down at sleepy corner, Beaumaris and Black Rock are marking time with neighbouring Mentone claiming the highest price of the week with a very quiet transaction negotiated at 22 Milan Street. A substantial five bedroom house with pool on 1626 sq m, it sold for $2,445,000.

Sandringham? Just the one: 2 Grange Road sold for $1.2 million

Hampton?  Two! (count ’em!) Including a vacant allotment at 63 Orlando Street, 557 sq m sold for $1.25 million.

Despite the stockmarket carnage, Brighton fared reasonably well: 8 sold from the 15 offered.

80 South Road (yes, kids, we all know it’s really Hampton, even if the new-to-the-area agent hasn’t worked that out) was the standout. First sold when new only two years ago for $2.78 million, the sale price on Saturday of exactly $3 million was a testament to the built quality; although the selling agents will no doubt claim some kudos.

Looking for one sign of how the market has slipped in three months? 63 Outer Crescent sold at auction in May for $2.61 million. On Saturday, its twin at 63A sold for, we believe, a number closer to $2.2 million. That’s around 15%. Room for gloom if it becomes widespread.

Other portents? Some in streets which until recently were sure sellers:

On June 20 we reported a non-result at 2 Tennyson Street, Brighton. Last week the Tennyson Street real estate gods smiled and against the tide of public opinion the property has now changed hands at exactly the pass-in price of $3.5 million.

Eventually, always, a buyer will come.

Damian Taylor

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