Silence ain’t golden, it’s grey.

It is as quiet as it has been in 20 years. Even the 1990 blood bath had some transactions to make a noise about. We’re now in new territory for a lot of agents who have nothing but memories of endless listings.

Explanations? They’re wherever you would like to look: the election, the sharemarket, the footy (the footy?). But the explanations don’t alter the inescapable: there’s nothing out there and there won’t be anything significant for the next month.

Even off-market transactions trickled to near stand-still and, on-market, Map 58 was almost a no-go zone. Its highest recorded result was 58 Washington Street, Toorak. 850 square metres of arguably land value (the house is badly positioned, so renovation is not a happy option). It was first passed in and then sold for $3,350,000.


$370/foot? Nothing nearby has sold for less than $400/foot for months. So spare a thought for the poor developer who paid $500/foot just up the road not long ago.

Owner-occupiers? Gone missing.

But not so at 15 Loch Street, St Kilda West. A Victorian on small land. $3.94 million. At that price, who needs South Yarra?

Feel the magic?

There are some fabulously inventive agents out there. Now they’re inventing houses. We’ll get a call asking whether we have a buyer for a house an agent is yet to list. When we suggest we might have, suddenly that property is no longer available. Dare we suggest they’re sniffing for listings? Dare we suggest they try elsewhere?

Great disappointments?

Those publications hoping the spring market would bring an avalanche of advertising dollars could be looking at the perfect storm. Few listing at the top end and, further down the ladder, talk of interest rate rises persuading investors and first-house buyers to go and hide in Their Eskys.

We, the anomaly?

The quieter the market, the busier we become. The small gems which appear off-market become more and more appealing. That said, we’re now experiencing a first: we have more clients than there are properties for them to consider.

Oh, OK. We still bought four properties over the weekend. It’s not all gloom.

David Morrell

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Bayside: It’s been a long time.

A week can be a long time in politics. Ask Kev. A week in footy? Ask St Kilda. A week in real estate? Take a look around Bayside.

From bustle and hustle last weekend to doom and gloom (again). The Bayside auction market has more highs and lows than the The Big Dipper.

Only a few weeks ago it was curtains for any auction over two million dollars. Buyers were simply not biting, regardless of the fortunes in vendor-funded advertising bait. Last weekend that all turned around and then, despite the best efforts of Bayside’s finest (and still more marketing dollars), the past week in Brighton saw the bar lowered on anything much over a million. The best and only result under the hammer was 94 Asling Street, Brighton (the née Gardenvale bit). An old weatherboard with a railway station looming over its rear garden, it scraped to a modest $1,125,000.

Even conservative and stable Brighton East could not escape the glassy stares of onlookers. Hands firmly thrust into pockets. Nary a bid to be seen. The only exception was 4 Ratho Avenue and there the million dollar barrier was in no danger. It sold for $855,000.

At the pointier end, a big crowd gathered for the auction of a visually standout property at 24 Boxshall Street. Cleverly designed and constructed, yet not without blemish, it’s a lot of house for just 455 sq m. Probably more at home in trendy Elwood or Prahran, it failed to resonate with Brighton buyers: passed in by a somewhat bemused auctioneer on a vendor bid of $3 million. Although the reserve is undisclosed, we expect it to be around the mid-$3 millions with negotiations to move forward (sorry, Julia) from there.

A more traditional Brighton mini-mansion was offered at 10 Campbell Street. Despite the auctioneer’s exhaustive efforts to fire up the crowd, an opening vendor bid of $3.65 million was raised to just $3.75 million by a lone punter before a final vendor offer of $3.85 million was met with stony silence. New cards please. Reserve is again undisclosed but will have a four in front of it.

Hampton/Sandringham did not improve on Brighton’s performance: a solitary result recorded at 48 Mills Street, Hampton. A well renovated brick period house in the right spot, it achieved an expected $1.56 million.

Not so joyous at 12 Margarita Street. A contemporary family house, it failed to excite and was left on a vendor bid of $1.775 million and the asking price is now set at $1.85 million. The agent’s pre-auction quote of up to $1.95 million, suggests this one may have been initially oversold – with the published reserve indicating a willingness to now meet the market.

At nearby 14 Duff Street in Sandringham, the tea leaves indicate agent and or vendor may not be in sync with each other or, at very least, with prospective buyers. The pre-auction price quote was $1.44-1.6 million, a bit over a fair 10% range. Result? Passed in on a vendor bid of $1.58 million with a reported later offer right at the top of the quote range: $1.6 million. Outcome? No sale; and the published reserve is now $1.7 million. Just when you thought agents’ quotes were becoming more reliable and/or vendor’s expectations more realistic.

Beaumaris and Black Rock were about as (un)busy as can be expected at this time of year. Only a couple of auctions and a handful of private sales. The highest price for the week was the private sale of 28 Hardinge Street in Beaumaris. Smartly presented, contemporary, in the heart of the suburb, it changed hands for $1.75 million.

Bentleigh and first cousin Bentleigh East were also reasonably quiet with pre-election uncertainties keeping all but hardened or needy vendors away. Of the eight auctions scheduled, two sold before, three were passed in and three sold. Overall, about as exciting as watching the Julia and Tony show.

Damian Taylor

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