March 30. A season for all seasons.

Excitement, anticipation, hope, dissatisfaction, frustration, lack of depth with lists, contempt, delight and large helpings of “What if?”

And that’s just the start of the footy season. You should see what’s been happening in real estate.

Last week, the top end was full of promises with a mixed bag of lollies the result. What was surprising was just how many lollies (bidders!) were there. Put simply, the short supply of quality properties is continuing to underpin the market. If there had been as many properties as last year on offer this year, we suspect you would be hearing a lot of air coming out of a lot of tyres.

Quality is still the underlying issue. This also harks back to position, position, position.

So. Over the weekend, Melbourne’s top end largely defied the law of gravity being enforced in top ends everywhere else on earth.

Some litmus tests:

15-17 Irving Road, Toorak arguably one of the best addresses in Melbourne. 10,220 square feet of prime Toorak real estate. On the market for $3,850,000 with multiple bidders pushing it to $4.6 million. $450.00 per foot. Now rewind to last year at the height of the market: 23 Irving Road sold for $500 per foot ($1 million over its reserve) with six bidders. That is, even with multiple bidders, 15-17 sold at around 10% under the market peak.

9 St James Place, Toorak land again, more prime rib, 8,740 feet of it with a single dwelling covenant, sold for $4 million after being passed in at $3,620,000. That?s $457.00 per square foot.

3A Irving Road was put up for the second time in a year and sold for more than $3.2 million ($533 per foot). It has some issues, but last time there was not a bidder in sight and this time they came in pairs.

5 Mernda Road, Kooyong a contemporary house with a pool and within walking distance of Scotch, St Cath?s etc. It sold for $4,320,000 and had multiple bidders. The expectation was high $3?s. You could argue that it was the proximity to schools that sold it; and we would agree with you. But there’s another big factor at work:

Lack of choice. Lack of choice. Lack of choice.

The lesson in all this?

The top end is not as sick as some reports would have you believe (OK, there are times our own optimism has been running dry). 10% down? Yes. 20-30%, as in some of the “middle” areas of Melbourne? No.

The patient is not dead, not at least in Toorak, Armadale, South Yarra, Malvern and Hawthorn.

Meanwhile, investors are continuing to pop their heads over the parapets.

Is this the turnaround the market has been waiting for? Has the market bottomed and are we on the way back?

With the greatest of respect to those whose tea leaves predict that the worst is over, we would still advise some caution. There has certainly been a blip on the radar and the top-end land prices are holding; and land is often the first sign of a market movement.


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… makes a great headline, but scratching beneath the surface reveals a miserly 33 auctions conducted across the dozen or so suburbs in all of Bayside.

Among so few, whether 65%, 75% or 100% sold, it’s apparent that auction clearance rates are no longer the barometer of the health or otherwise of the residential property market.

All the attention is on the auctions when most of the action is elsewhere. Every week, private sales and off-market transactions are taking place, virtually unreported.

Beaumaris, suffering a severe dose of the rigors (feeling frozen while running a temperature) had a fabulous-headline 100% clearance rate (OK, one auction) while five private sales were completed.

Elwood: two auctions and one sale suggest a 50% clearance rate, but there were also five private sales including two at more than $1 million.

Might be time to look at all transaction results for the week to gather a more accurate state of the market.

Elsewhere …

Hampton had no private sales for the week but in two auctions 49 Bridge Street, Hampton, sold for $1,125,000 while the best 4 Gordon Street could manage was a vendor bid of $2.1 million against a challenging reserve of $2,380,000.

A little further inland, Hampton East had a total of five transactions for the week; all but one being  private sales.

The real interest in Sandringham this week was the report of the sale of 31/49-51 Bay Road for $2.6 million. It’s the east facing penthouse in Portofino (yes, there are two).

And 2 Southey Street, Sandringham has finally sold for $1.343 million.

Brighton’s tom toms were sounding this week with the apparent sale of 32 Middle Crescent for a price rumoured to be between $10 and 11 million. Although not strictly on the market, the property has been quietly available for over six months. It previously sold for around $8 million.

Brighton East also saw some activity at the top end: 23 Clinton Street sold for $1,405,000 and 94 Glencairn Avenue went for $1,452,500.

Cheltenham had a busy auction day: all five properties scheduled were sold.

Bayside’s standout? Highett: 10 sales ranging between $437,000 and $1,170,000; just two of those at auction.


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