Nov 16: Going, going, going, going, going …

With just five selling weeks remaining before one of the most ebullient years in real estate in Melbourne will be going, going, gone, the market still continues to fly. Reported clearance rates for weekend auctions remain at 80% + while at the upper end there’s still strong under-the-radar activity in private transactions.

The pressure is on for buyers. They’re all too aware that if they haven’t signed on a dotted line in the next five weeks, it will be mid to late February before the market picks up again and that means most won’t move house before May or June.

You have probably read that the Wayne Gillespie-designed house at 18 Winifred Crescent, Toorak sold for $4.21 million. What wasn’t reported was that four bidders began at $3.7 million, so there are still three in the market for that kind of property at that kind of price. Panic, anyone?

Unreported was 10 Struan Street, Toorak. It sold prior to auction for more than $7 million; which suggests that if a vendor at the upper end is presented with an acceptable price, a deal will follow. Even in this market, not everyone wants to take a ticket in an auction lottery.

And then …

When agents start selling, is it because they’re trading up, or because they think prices are approaching their peak?

Under-the-radar, as mentioned above, is about as strong as it has ever been. Over the weekend this office alone completed seven transactions ranging up to $7 million and beyond.

At less stratospheric levels, under-quoting is still problematic. Richmond provided one example: 68 Highett Street was quoted at $700-770,000 and sold for $925,000. The agent, of course, could not have been more surprised. The five or six prospective buyers who had had their time and hopes wasted were less impressed.

The next few weeks will see the platinum end of the market reveal itself when expressions of interest close on ?Dunraven? at 55 Clendon Road, Toorak, ?Avon Court” at 18-20 Shakespeare Grove, Hawthorn, and two new entries: 13 Albany Road, Toorak and 2 Linlithgow Road, Toorak. Interestingly, they’re all to be sold via expressions of interest campaigns. There is still hesitation regarding public auctions at the premium end.

And when that’s all finished, all done? The tribe departs for the Peninsula, where expectations are that discretionary money will be creeping back into beachside real estate.

Santa is going to have to keep his GPS up-to-date.

Christopher Koren

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Bayside: Work, work, work …

The pointy end of Brighton’s  market will be well tested over the next three to four weeks. There’s a spate of $5 million and over properties being actively marketed.

Included are 184 The Esplanade at about $8 million, “Nithsdale” at 316 St Kilda Street for around $7 million, 319-323 St Kilda Street at around $8 million, 1A Martin Street (on the beachfront, not yet listed) at over $7 million, 21 Moule Avenue at $8 million, 22 Glyndon Avenue at over $9 million, 15 Dudley Street at up to $6 million and 23 Cosham Street at around $5 million.

They’re just the homes being advertised. There are another dozen or so at this price level which have been placed quietly on the off-market.

It will take a marathon effort to clear so much high-end property before the end of the year. We predict a severe case of pre-Christmas indigestion.

The high Aussie dollar has blunted the appeal of top-end property to overseas buyers and although the bankers are enjoying the prospect of bonuses this year, it is doubtful they will be sufficiently hefty to meet so many vendors’ lofty ambitions.

Heard the rumour that Tiger is plonking down his appearance fee as a deposit on one of these Brighton gems? Discount it.

Meanwhile, back in the real world …

Bentleigh returned to a 100% clearance rate. Peak result at was 39 Robert Street: $1.28 million, closely followed by 13 Molden Street: $1.175 million.

Brighton was solid: 10 sales from 14 auctions.

A corner site of 788 sq m at 90 Dendy Street sold for a modest $1.45 million; which works out to only $170 per sq ft. Not far away, 737-739 Hampton Street, a brick pair on 980 sq m, received a best offer of $1.57 million which comes to an even more modest $150 per sq ft (the vendor is holding out for $1.72 million).

Brighton East was busy. The standout was the conclusion of an expression of interest campaign at 23 Robinson Street. A new house, built to a level of finish and attention to detail which caused some critics to opine that it was overcapitalised for its street, went on to sell for $2.82 million, suggesting that at least one person disagreed.

A very sound price was achieved for a land-only property at 28 Pine Street. It was knocked down for $1,921,000 – or about $170 per sq ft – for its 1063 sq m. That is, on par with the Brighton-addressed properties mentioned above.

A contemporary house of 8 main rooms and 3.5 bathrooms on over 800 sq m at 1 Baird Street seems reasonable buying at $1.625 million, however at the other end of this well regarded street, number 87 is still available. It failed to attract a bid other than the auctioneer’s $2.1 million (the reserve is reserved for those who contact the selling agents).

11 and 13 Lucas Street – on land totalling 926 sq m – sold prior to auction for $1.8 million. A builder’s sign is expected shortly.

Hampton was busier than in recent weeks: six sales from seven auctions. The highest on the day was 13 Grout Street, a typical Hampton timber house on 623 sq m that had been extensively renovated and extended. It sold for $1.57 million.

125 Linacre Road, a near-new contemporary house with generous spaces and accommodation, sold privately for $1.675 million.

The one pass-in was 10 Holyrood Street, a 1930’s renovated brick house on 723 sq m. It received a vendor bid of $1.35 million – the reserve a whisker above at $1.38 million.

Sandringham had seven auctions scheduled for the weekend, but four were sold prior, all in the $650-800,000 range. Significant? Coincidence?

104 Bay Road sold for $1.1 million

172 Beach Road has been on the market for most of this year and has finally sold for $1.5 million. It is on 789 sq m and is now ready for a total renovation or a bulldozer.

And finally a sign that, for some buyers, the world’s woes are a way away: prior to its scheduled auction, a Dendy Street bathing box sold for $190,000. For that modest investment you get a timber shed with no power, water or sewerage and, more significantly, no title; just a 12 monthly renewable licence. Plus bragging rights.

Damian Taylor

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