It’s about the money …

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

Life at the top end has rarely been more interesting (OK, unpredictable), but all the arguments eventually turn around the single constant:

It’s the money.

Supply, demand, vendors, buyers, agents, expats, OS interest, the budget, the interest rates, who got out on the right side of the bed, whether the lawn was mowed, the weather, who won the footy…

All that and more is eventually reflected in a single line of numbers on a contract of sale.

The whispers did it

Often it’s the Chinese Whispers that waft around so many properties that are confusing matters. Increasingly, at the top end, those whispers include Chinese nationals.

Hushed talk of of plane-loads of Chinese arriving with loaded chequebooks and stratospheric offers for anything labeled trophy.

All based on a couple of exceptional examples.

In fact, the vast majority of local trophies are still being bought by locals — but there isn’t a headline in that.

There are still more whispers to be heard around private sales and Expressions of Interest campaigns; often agents’ fantasies around what or who might come out of the woodwork and pay the inflated price the agent promised the vendor (some agents are amazingly talented builders of roadblocks that they then crash into).

Three weeks ago we were told there were offers being held for a number of homes we bought last week — for a lot less than those offers.

A 20% discount on a $5 million quote? Yup.

Phantom offers or softening market?

It’s a bit of each.

There are phantoms (see above) but signs of softening are also there in the conversations of buyers and in the wide choice which is at last available.

And it’s there among some leading agents who are expecting that their long lists of unsold properties will take months to clear; and concerns that may not be before their traditional buyers take off for points north.

Lies, damned lies and clearance rates

There are few statistics which are less useful than those with a % sign trumpeting clearance rates.

They don’t even reflect what actually sold under the hammer (one statistic which might be useful). Properties which are passed in and sold up to a day later can be counted — no matter how much the vendor was persuaded to discount.


69 St Vincent Place ~$12 million. ~$25,000/sq m. Leap of faith or height of idiocy? Regardless, it’s a record that’s unlikely to be broken for a long, long time.

Sub $1.5 million. Demand is still strong. If this is entry level, choose your parents wisely.

David Morrell

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