Top end in a word: Strange

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocatesStrange thing about the top end market we’re seeing today. We’re not seeing it. It’s like a footy game with the crowd turning their backs to the field; looking to see what’s happening out of sight up in the stands.

Yes, yes, yes. There are exceptions (see below). Enough of them, at least, to keep the commentariat with something to comment on. But it’s not the main game.

(An aside: “David,” I was asked, “Why is it that so many market reports are replays of self-interested buyer agent or estate agent comments – the constant talking up of the market the major symptom. Shouldn’t those reporters be getting out and talking to the people who really make the market: That is, the buyers?”)

Last week, a mini-Mexican wave took place up those stands – some of it even visible to the casual onlooker – one result leading to another.

10 St Georges Road, Toorak. Listed, if memory serves, since before the first bounce of the football season. Many different agents, as many marketing campaigns and many balls kicked out of bounds until last week when a local player popped up and reportedly paid $8.7 million.

2 Forrest Court, Toorak. Again on the market for some time. A speculative build, different agents, different asking price and sold to another local for just under $7 million (anyone got batteries for a calculator?).

In the school belt, 4 Mernda Road, Kooyong. A good renovation, south side, 5 bedrooms, ready to move in – sold in the early sixes with three locals all wanting to move in.

Last week also saw one of very few successful top end auctions: 10 William Street, South Yarra. A strong $5.4 million, with two locals bidding.

Locals? All locals? Isn’t this market supposed to be ex-pat driven?

Not from where we sit. Rumours of underlying ex-pat interest have to be judged against who is spreading them; and in whose interest.

The one constant in any market is the buyers and sellers. Sales methods may change, but not the consistent needs of some for a roof over their heads and for others to sell (sometimes unwillingly). If the quality is there and the price is right, the twain will meet.

And now Spring looms and with it you can expect a new normal. At the top end we’re looking at fewer transactions, fewer auctions, less advertising … and more people.

This against a background of agents, little by little, losing conrol. More and more, the internet is stealing their power to influence outcomes. That, too, is bringing with it some new wrinkles. Underquoting and dummy bidding have long been tools of agents wishing to unfairly manipulate a sale; but to that you should now add the camera. How often do you see a bedroom or kitchen on the web that looks the size of a footy field and, when you inspect, discover the size is closer to a handkerchief.

Will Consumer Affairs next have to ban the wide-angle lens?

David Morrell

Bayside: Signs of life!

An auction. An auction at the top end. In Brighton. And a sale!

25 Kent Avenue went to auction on Saturday and, right after the auction, it sold. Really. $6.4 million. Four bidders, three of them serious. Right there on the foreshore in the Golden Mile, a 1930’s Deco style home on a relatively modest 665 sq m. Last sold 30 years ago (who said properties around here are tightly held?) for $360,000.

Nearby, 25-27 Glyndon Avenue has come up for sale again. On 1532 sq m, it last sold in more exuberant times for $15.5 million; the current record price for a Brighton property. Now, the rumour is closer to $20 million.

Contesting that record is “Kinane” on the corner of The Esplanade and Kinane Street. While it has twice as much land (3,200 sq m) and elevated views over the Bay and Dendy Street beach, that’s not quite the same as actually being on the foreshore. Five years ago it sold for $11.2 million. Today it’s expected you’ll need around $20 million to attract the vendor’s attention.

At less stratospheric heights, the attempted sale of 1A Webb Street was somewhat underwhelming at $2.05 million. Something of a rarity, it’s a good downsizer and ticked a lot of boxes: Single-level, manageable allotment, one of the more preferred positions in Brighton. It was expected to go for $2.2-2.3 million and apparently had good pre-auction interest. With all that, the best it could do was a pass-in to a solitary bidder’s offer of less than $2 million.

In Brighton East, 25 Marriage Road, a well preserved 1950’s home on 1500 sq m sold at auction for $1.96 million. Around the corner in Connor Street, number 14 sold some weeks ago for $2.065 million.

The Brightons had 16 properties offered for auction over the weekend – more than any other suburb – but only managed to clear half those. With the market about to limp into Spring, one-larger-than-life auctioneer was heard pleading with reluctant bidders to the effect that if they were waiting for the Spring market, then forget it – he was not expecting to have one this year.

He could be right. If buyers continue to sit on their hands, then expect potential vendors to do the same.

Damian Taylor

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