Outbreak of reality

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

Just this once – and we cannot guarantee it will ever happen again – we’re in agreement with a number of the pundits in the papers: the market is stabilising.

Where we still differ with many is why. We’ve been pointing out for several yonks that it’s buyers, not sellers or agents, who decide prices. The only real influence a vendor has is deciding to sell and then it’s lap-of-the-buyers-time.

[pullquote]Why, then, is some sort of stability emerging now?[/pullquote]

We’d argue that there has been an outbreak of reality among vendors – assisted by the better agents – they’re coming to meet the buyers.

We’d also argue that if this continues it will be good for everyone – buyers and sellers. The kind of volatility we have been experiencing may thrill the adrenaline junkies, but this is real estate, not base jumping. A lot of people’s well-being depends on some stability in the value of what is often their largest asset.

But there’s still the cheer-squad of vested interests out there shouting that the slump is over, that we’re about to boom again.

And if wishes were horses …

We think they’re wrong. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope we’re right.

Super What?

Saturday was Super in the sense that there was a lot on offer, but with a few exceptions there were no great surprises. At the top end there were still many hands in pockets and the odds under the hammer were not that great.


  • 8 First Point, Port Melbourne. Right on the beach (always popular), mortgagees’ auction, passed in on a vendor bid of $4 million and sold later for $4.1 million … a large discount compared to other sales in the development.
  • 26 Monaro Road, Kooyong. Why would you auction a top end property that is subject to a lease? Died on a vendor bid of $4.7 million.
  • 4 Como Avenue, South Yarra. Sold post-auction following bidding that was less than sparkling.
  • 21 Mary Street, St Kilda. The exception. Had a realistic expectation of $2.5 million but was in the right spot, is unique, and had hands waving like sunflowers in a breeze. $3.3 million. The buyers decided.

Going once …

… going twice, going for the third and (when we get around to it) for the umpteenth and final time…

One of the least-loved ploys in auction tactics is still in play: apparently taking a final bid and then starting all over again.

Which backfired wonderfully over the weekend. An auctioneer attempted to draw another bid from the underbidder – again and again and again – until he who had gone as far as he would go informed the auctioneer that he was not only out of the game, he was withdrawing all his previous bids.

Leaving the auctioneer … where?

The property was yet to be knocked down. Nothing on paper. The highest bidder, knowing no competition remained, would have been perfectly entitled to withdraw his ‘winning’ bid and to negotiate from a suddenly powerful position.

Lawyers at 10 paces?

David Morrell

Bayside: Survives, just

Bayside just survived the onslaught of auctions in most areas but, yet again, its clearance rate continues to trail the overall Melbourne numbers and certainly that in the Eastern suburbs.

The Brightons had the most auctions and from 32 scheduled, 18 found buyers. 56% against the reported city-wide mid-60’s.

With the shift away from auctioning properties in the dearer seats, it is not surprising that most sales were in the lower- to mid-range … with one or two exceptions.

148 The Esplanade was one. A typical boom style house built by a successful timber merchant in less troubled times, the interior panelling and detail are exquisite and the bay views expansive.

A cheeky opening bid of $2.6 million was point-blank refused by the auctioneer before the property was summarily passed in on a single vendor bid of $3.5 million. With a realistic vendor, it is not surprising that a sold sticker appeared on the board shortly thereafter. Although undisclosed, the sale price is thought to be very close to the pass-in figure and this must rate as good buying.

Not quite so at 2 Middle Crescent, Brighton, a near-new house on 870 sq m overlooking Firbank’s oval and St Andrews Street. While there were expectations earlier this year of close to $5 million, the presence of ABC News cameras did not deter the sole bidder’s hopeful $3.6 million, but may have frightened others off and the property was passed in.

Negotiations quickly moved the offer to $3.85 million, but the vendor was resolute at their new price of $4 million and before the agents could get a leg rope around Mr $3.85 million, he slipped out of the corral, jumped into his wagon and was gone.

Seems a lost opportunity for a sale.

Hampton and Sandringham cleared 11 from the 21 scheduled, with most activity in Sandy.

The highest was the sale of a cutting-edge house at 77 Victoria Street for $2.4 million, followed closely by 93 Abbott Street at $2.33 million. Entirely different properties, both strong sales.

Hampton’s highest was a renovated and extended brick period house at 71 Littlewood Street. Two buyers’ advocates took on a third bidder and when the dust cleared on the fall of the hammer at $1,804,000, the advocates had both conceded and exited stage left (and right).

On Sunday, Victoria Street appeared again with the auction of number 62, but silence ruled. Just a lone vendor bid of $2.8 million. The reserve is $3.15 million.

Beaumaris and Black Rock: 6 sales from the 13 scheduled. Not a lot of fire and no reason not to expect more of the same for some while yet.

The continuing story of the spate of heavily marketed properties in the top end in Brighton and of the prospects of them all feeling the love … continues.

Some comfort in the sale prior to auction of 3 Bonleigh Avenue. On 750 sq m of seldom-offered beach front, the 70’s style house appears to have seen its last summer. It went for “just shy” of $7 million.

Also providing some cheer for those top end sellers is the very quiet off-market sale of 11 Yuille Street. On 1600 sq m, with court, with pool, not out-of-place in Palm Springs, our understanding is that it was it was sold by one mate to another with no agent to be seen and that a cheque for around $7 million is in the mail.

Next weekend? Quieter, but there should be some significant reports from the top end.

Damian Taylor

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