Singing in the rain

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

And now, the end is near – of the financial year, that is.

OK, there are still 26 days to run, but at the top end there’s precious little left to run with.

Time to trot out Auld Lang Syne?

Yes. But.

[pullquote]The times they are a changing.[/pullquote]The times they are a changing.

Time was there’d be an auction or a chat over the phone and a cheque would be signed and that would be that.

Doesn’t happen very often any more. Not at the top end.

Over $4 million, it’s meet face-to-face. Then meet again. And again. And again. It’s getting to be a habit with some.

Vendors, agents, advocates and buyers all in the same room. Pretty soon (please) … baristas?

Auctions? The party’s over. Mostly.

Under the cold grey skies of the weekend, all but one property over $3 million failed to sell under the hammer. The exception was 69 Rose Street, Armadale, where three hands were raised and raised and raised until the reserve became a faint memory and the hammer fell at $3.9 million.

Then consider 18 Hawksburn Road, South Yarra. Quoted at $2.5-2.7 million, three people took it to $3.1 million and it was then passed in.

$400,000 above the highest quoted price range and it’s still passed in? How could an agent possibly explain a gap that wide?

It gets better. One buyer was quoted an actual reserve of $3.5 million and it later sold for $3.15 million.

Rose Street and Hawksburn Road were with different agents from the same agency. Judge for yourself who you would choose.

Singing the blues?

The equity markets – and with them the forlorn hopes of some agents that we will soon see a renaissance at the top end.

Faint hope. Made fainter by the fog which descends when reporting the results of expressions-of-interest sales. Too often all that’s heard is the sounds of silence.

In a more open market – and there’s an argument for legislation – results of public offerings would be made public. People who genuinely wish to buy would then have more than agents’ wishful thinking to rely on when judging where the market is going. It’s likely – a point which apparently escapes the REIV – that more buyers would then feel more confident about coming out to play.

Expressions-of-interest, especially, have become the monsters in the room. Some are legit but too many are not; and how would most buyers ever know? Phantom bidders invented at will, reserves as solid as mirages, angst, confusion and anxiety rule and that includes among agents (kids, you really should learn to walk before you fall over).

Underquoting? Moi?

The never-ending story. It’s now reached the point where agents are running ads pointing out that they don’t underquote. (Hint: Not the agency handling Hawksburn Road.)

While that’s good to see, to congratulate them for doing something that should be the unremarkable norm really does suggest the straits are dire.

Consumer Affairs? REIV? Are you there? Is anybody home?

David Morrell

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