Mystery deepens

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

The top end continues to work in mysterious ways. A very expensive, very silent submarine.

Secrets rule. We’d tell you but they’d have to kill us and we’re too busy to go to that funeral.

And then a periscope pops up. 21,000 square feet of 12 Albany Road sells – not overnight, it took four weeks – and no-one is saying a word about how much or to whom.

Down the street at 26 Albany? The whole 26,000 square feet is still all yours for the asking. Another Expressions of Interest campaign in danger of sinking without trace.

Not alone. Over the last six weeks or so, most buyers have realised that the helm of that sub is theirs and they’ll steer it where they choose. The frenzy has gone. If the price isn’t right or the offer doesn’t tick all the boxes, they simply sail away.

6 Fullham Road, South Yarra. Sunk with nary a real bid. Vendor requires a new course.

24 Park Street, South Yarra. Two bidders. Found port at $4,850,000. Not bad, not good. Wrong side of the street. About right.

“And what,” you may ask, “are the agents doing when the buyers aren’t coming to the party?”

Some we know of have done the rats and sinking ship trip. First off. Off to parts more to their liking for five or six weeks.

[pullquote]…the agent who was once your very very very best friend is now in some distant time zone.”[/pullquote]How does that feel? You’re a vendor who has just dropped 50 or 60 large notes on a campaign that couldn’t fail and the agent who was once your very very very best friend is now in some distant time zone? For five or six weeks? You? Relaxed and comfortable? Not.

And then we had a call last week from someone whose house we had looked at – who rang to tell us he’d had an offer and was about to sell. Really? “Does your agent know about this?” Apparently not. “Are you anxious to sell?” Apparently so. “And you have a real buyer just ready to sign?” Absolutely.

Funny thing, that. The house is still for sale. A phantom offer? A phantom buyer? Another reminder that it’s not always the cleverest idea to be rushing for the chequebook the moment a competing offer is mentioned (and, no, we weren’t interested anyway).

And just when we were wondering why the world doesn’t love agents to bits we found ourselves choking on our Weeties. An agent was pinged! For underquoting! 11 times!

It’s right there in the Herald Sun: “This is a stern warning to the real estate industry and agents that any businesses suspected of misleading price advertising will find themselves under close scrutiny…” (Consumer Affairs Minister) Mr O’Brien said.

“Lordy!” we thought, “That agent will be spending the best years of his life on a prison ship.”

Well, not exactly. That agent (OK, Nick Renna, Hocking Stuart, Bentleigh) was sentenced the equivalent of having to stand in the corner for 30 seconds. “Naughty! Don’t you dare do that again!”

Yes. That’ll teach them.

David Morrell

Bayside: All in good time …

After a long weekend with few auctions and fewer private sales, everyone went back to work and tried to read the signs.

How do you like your omelette? Served in the dark, a garnish of this and that and not quite knowing what it really contains? Coming right up…

Seems everyone has an opinion as to what this market is doing – ranging from sinking into oblivion to sunshine just around the corner.

Meanwhile, properties that were expected to struggle sold. Those expected to walk out the door were left waiting.

That’s what’s making this market: the doomsayers selling out now before the end of the world while the glass half-fullers are moving in on what they see as opportunities.

[pullquote]There will be winners and losers.”[/pullquote]Both can’t be right. There will be winners and losers.

More than ever it’s essential for buyers to thoroughly understand and research their options, to take a measured long term view, to resist the temptation to over-gear and to choose the very best property their budgets will allow.

And in spite of some of the gloom, it is a fact that properties are still selling and, in a few cases, selling quite well.

One prominent Bayside agency is happy for all and sundry to know that the firm has sold one property per day for the past two months. A commendable effort which probably points to their skill at managing their vendors’ expectations better than some of their competitors.

And although transactions are ticking along, they are doing so at a considerably slower pace and predominately in the lower- to mid-level of median value in their suburbs. The upper end is a challenge and has become very sensitive to pricing. If a property is not on the money, expect it to sit there for some time.

So to the week’s action. And inaction.

The attention-grabbers in Bayside were not the mega mansions, but still beach front properties. The City of Bayside offered two recently-constructed bathing boxes at 58A and 58B Dendy Beach.

Each about the size of a mega mansion’s powder room but without light, power or services and with a “title” that is no more than a licence to occupy and which must be renewed annually – none of which proved to be an impediment to the buyer who paid over $260,000 … just $45,000 above the previous highest price paid on this beach last year. The sale of the second box at $221,000 seems a snip. And there’s a prediction of more boxes becoming available.

At the other end of the spectrum, a structure with radical extras including bedrooms, a kitchen, etc., at 2 Lorac Avenue was sold. Again. On three levels, in its short life it has already been sold three times; the last occasion being two years ago for $3.475 million. (For the agents involved it’s not so much a house as a career.) Initially passed in at $3.4 million, negotiations throughout the evening with a second buyer saw agreement reached between $3.6 and $3.7 million.

At a similar price point, the auction of 2 Tennyson Street was short and not so sweet. A cavernous faux French chateau style house, it has a mix of internal finishes well calculated to confuse. After a brief preamble the house was unceremoniously passed in on a single vendor bid of $3.5 million. The reserve is undisclosed, but earlier gossip was of a vendor expectation in excess of $4 million. Don’t hold your breath.

One that should have sold was at 10 Downes Avenue. A comfortable brick bungalow on average land but in a desirable street, it needs some large numbers being spent at the rear. When the best offer at the auction of $1.675 million was increased to $1.8 million, most observers (and perhaps the selling agent) anticipated acceptance. Not the case. The reserve now is set at an ambitious $1.95 million.

A couple of private sales worth noting were 42 Cole Street at $2.36 million and vacant land at 38 Hanby Street that was passed in several weeks ago. It sold for a fair $2.05 million.

Overall Brighton performed reasonably well with 13 sales from the 20 scheduled; although three of those were sold prior to auction.

Elsewhere, Beaumaris and Black Rock hardly raised an eyebrow and Hampton and Sandringham hardly raised a sweat; with the exception of 3 Linacre Road which sold for $1.46 million.

The sensible, predictable and safe Bentleighs posted a solid 13 sales from 18 on offer. Hardly surprising. They’re affordable, well serviced semi-bayside suburbs with vendors who generally have sensible expectations.

Sense. Now there’s a thing.

Damian Taylor


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