Spring, unsprung.

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, but at the top end we’re still wondering where the vendors is.

(And apologies to Anon.)

Yes, buyers are blooming, but choice properties to buy are still thin on the ground. Those with homes they may be thinking about selling are like penguins nearing the beach — no-one wants to be the first ashore.

There’s always an outrageous offer which will winkle out a sale but those are exceptions, not trends.

Agent insomnia

First it was rare vendors. Then rare vendors who didn’t want to splurge on advertising that is as much for the estate agent as it is for the home to be sold. Now it’s vendors who don’t want an agent at all — who choose to rely on who they know (and at the top end, everybody mostly knows everybody).

Word from one agent:

“This is all getting out of hand.”

Dotted points

  • there is good buyer depth (see above), but…
  • there is also much buyer patience
  • we are hearing more and more from people who know things are moving but don’t know how
  • ex-pats and “whale” OS buyers are figments of desperate imaginations at the top end
  • there’s still a healthy appetite for land. Renovation costs are now so high that starting again and building something new is growing in appeal, e.g:
  • 5 Heymont Close sold at land value over the weekend. Multiple bidders at $550/ft. About right.

I’m your agent. No I’m not. I’m your agent. No I’m not. I’m…

James Redfern, for Marshall White, at an auction in Glen Iris over the weekend. He is the listing agent.

Agents work to get the best possible price for vendors. That’s the law.

But James is also placing bids on behalf of another client — presumably trying to acquire the property as cheaply as he can.

How does that work?

James The Agent is also James The Buyer. James The Agent knows what the reserve is. James The Buyer knows how much to bid.

If that is the case, the advantage that James The Buyer has over other bidders is indefensible, let alone the position he finds himself in —  on one hand trying to maximise the price and on the other trying to keep it as low as possible.

When the reserve was being set, did James The Agent advise the vendor what that should be? Was it in the vendor’s or the buyer’s interest?

There’s conflict of interest and collision of interest. From where we sit, this looks like a train wreck.

And the Vulture Award goes to…

The agent who purchased on his own behalf from his client with dementia.

Our understanding is that Consumer Affairs will soon be asked to take a closer look.

David Morrell

Bayside Awakens

The very top end of Bayside has largely been asleep for longer than seems possible. Some examples:

… and they’ve been available for years, not months.

Now Spring has arrived and listings are busting out all over — in all price ranges — with some notable new entries at the top:

33 Chatsworth Avenue is another contender. Last sold in early 2011 for around $12 million, the current price is over $10 million — for 1315 sq m with a 50 metre frontage to the foreshore.

Chatswood and Birdwood are both being sold at land value (the writer’s last experience of Birdwood was assisting 1,000 people through the door before it then sold for a little over $1 million).

Further inland, 141 New Street — a well extended and renovated single-level Victorian on over 2,000 sq m — failed to trouble the record-keepers. It sold for $7 million at the peak three years ago and was passed in on a vendor bid of $5.3 million on Saturday. There are rumours of interest in the fours but even $5 million is seen as a bid too far.

8 Carpenter Street sold for $2.6 million, 30 Head Street sold post-auction for $2.675 million after a selling agent’s suggestion of: “High one to low two millions, but we don’t really know”.

Well, at least the last bit was right.

Next weekend sees the start of some football games and the beginning or not of a different party in government. And the Spring property season getting officially underway.

Life is full of imponderables.

Damian Taylor

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