We knew there had to be a better way

Between us, we have close to a century’s experience in real estate. In our past incarnation, we have been described as among Australia’s most successful top-end real estate agents and auctioneers.

Why, then, did we create another side and then cross over to it? Why become Australia’s first buyers’ advocates?

We had been helping a number of people with purchases, and they’d tell their friends and it began to snowball. People were begging us to do it.

It became plain that buyers’ advocacy was a service which took a lot of the uncertainty out of buying and was saving some people a great deal of money. After some hard thinking and a trip to the US (where buyers’ agents are the norm), we decided that if we were to properly represent buyers, that’s all we should do.

Overnight, we had changed sides. It was now us vs. the agents – the poacher
had invented the gamekeeper.

How could that work? Wouldn’t the agents refuse to deal with us?

Well … no. The lesser agents might think of us as their worst nightmare, but even they know we’re representing real buyers and not competing with them for listings or threatening their commissions. They can’t afford not to deal with us.

That gives us, among other advantages, access to agents’ “hidden” listings; while our greater knowledge of vendors and markets allows us to take control of auctions and negotiations.

We know all the games and we put a stop to them.

It was time someone did.

“Buyers advocate David Morrell said deliberate bait advertising was common. He said Consumer Affairs Victoria has failed to rein in agents who flouted laws…”


“I was a mess. It seemed impossible.”

David Morrell is unique. He opened his first real estate agency when hardly out of short pants then nurtured it to become a leading force in Melbourne’s most affluent suburbs.

With Chris Koren, he established Australia’s first buyer advocates — now not only the oldest but the dominant firm at the top end.

He was a founder of realAs — the world-leading accuracy price-prediction app — its algorithm is based on a method David developed for use on behalf of his clients. (The tech has since been sold to a Big Four bank.)

The top end is the world of the who-you-know. There are few significant homes that David has not bought or inspected, few that are simply found and bought — almost every one requires a different approach.

“He does things others just don’t think of.”

Emma Bloom has had a career path which has proved to be an amazing preparation for a top end buyers’ advocate.

Following university, Emma worked in fashion—including nine years in product buying and leadership roles. Fashion gave her the ability “… to read different personality types and know what they want to wear. When dressing someone, there is a vibe: Who they are and what look they are going for. The same things apply to housing.”

Those skills were refined over six years at Kay + Burton, culminating in being responsible for the sale of some of Melbourne’s highest-profile homes (in her last week alone she handled sales which totalled over $20 million).

Emma is a notorious go-getter, a skilled negotiator and has an uncanny ability to bring negotiations to a close when no end appears to be in sight.

And, above all, Emma listens.

After 20 years as a licensed agent, Karen Price was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the collision of interests of agents and their clients. Too often, they’re not aligned.

“Representing buyers is a much happier place to be. Being at Morrell and Koren is the only place to be.”

Karen initially worked as an “apprentice” advocate under David and Chris (“the best tutors in Australia”) and saw just about every way a home could be found, the ins and outs of negotiation and bidding and, most of all, how to help clients decide what they really need – where the real-life value is for them.

Now she’s flying solo – and establishing a reputation as the most professional female advocate in Australia; with a record level of transactions.

The biggest buzz? “Being there when a client moves in and you can just tell that they’ve made the right decision. That it’s going to be a great place for them to live.”


Matt Cleverdon  in his own words:

  • “An agent does 50 deals in a year, a buyer maybe three in a lifetime. It’s not a level playing field.”
  • “A 130 year-old house bought without a building inspection. Criminal.”
  • “A lot of people don’t understand that how you buy is more important than how you sell.
  • When you’ve watched enough auctioneers move from desperation to confidence you learn to tell when the reserve has been reached — then it’s game on.

Matt was a golf pro and coach (“You need post-graduate people skills.”). He went on to become a licensed real estate agent and auctioneer and rose to run the Sandringham end of Nick Johnstone Real Estate — and to become one of the highest-rated agents in Australia.

Since joining Morrell and Koren, Matt has immersed himself in both Stonnington and Bayside, negotiating purchases of homes with prices ranging up to more than $30 million. 


Emeritus Director Christopher Koren is a licensed real estate agent who in 25 years in the industry has been the director of a number of successful agencies, a renowned auctioneer and, with David Morrell, the pioneer of buyers’ advocacy in Australia. His knowledge of the auction process is encyclopedic.

Chris is frequently sought for comment in print, radio and television. He has secured hundreds of properties, often for the most exacting purchasers, and has been a major catalyst for the ethical reform of the real estate industry in Australia.

He is now to be found on a farm not far out of town but is always available for wise counsel and for those clients who would not consider moving without him.

1. Impossible-to-find properties can be found.

10 years ago, auctions were it. Today, around half the houses we buy are not even listed by agents. Especially at the top end, vendors avoid the hassles of agent selling. They don’t want parades of strangers tramping through their houses. Now much of our time is spent is uncovering the gems in the hidden market.

2. ‘Live’ where you’re thinking of buying.

Is this the right house for the way you live? Is the floor plan workable? Is the garden? Is the district? If not, moving day will be a terrible awakening. Use your imagination. ‘Live’ in the house, in your mind, from morning ’til night. How well is the kitchen laid out? Will there be a crush in the bathroom? How will you get to work, shops, schools? Is the garden pleasure or pain?

3. When the “Wow!” fades.

You need Wow! If you’re not in love with a house within a few minutes of walking inside, walk out. But Wow! can mislead if it persuades you to overlook more fundamental needs. In restaurant terms, “Wow!” is the aroma of a fabulous sauce. Think again about the steps suggested in 2. and make sure the whole meal lives up to your first impression.

4. Price. How much is too much?

Too much is more than replacement value, more than comparable properties are selling for in comparable areas or more than you want to pay. Too much is, in negotiation, the figure an estate agent will suggest. Too much is $1 more than a vendor would have been prepared to accept. How can you find out what’s too much? Checking with competing local agents, who probably know the property, can provide clues. Buying local market reports (providing you’re comparing apples with apples) can be a big help. Keeping a close eye on similar properties in similar streets will, in time, give you a reasonably accurate feel for what’s right.

5. Avoid fumbled catches.

You can go through everything it takes to find exactly what you are looking for only to lose it to another buyer at the last moment. Fair enough if that’s someone with deeper pockets at an auction. But if it’s a private sale or post-auction negotiation and a price you would have paid, you may just be left wondering. You could blame the agent, but chances are that if you had known more, you would have succeeded.

6. Stress. You don’t need it.

Homework helps lower the stress. When you know more than other buyers, when you have the funds and the strategy, that will add confidence. But (plug coming), a lot of clients choose us simply because they know we will cure their stress. We’re not emotionally involved. We won’t be snowed. That can be a huge relief. (End of plug.)

7. Finding value at the top end

(Another plug; but if you are spending the money needed to play at these heights, you need to know this.) You have no doubt heard that the market decides how much a house is worth. You may not have heard that, at the top end, Morrell & Koren is the major force in that market. We are involved in a huge proportion of upper-end sales. We know precisely what’s available and how much will secure it.

8. Investment. Get rich deliberately.

We have seen too many people rush out of the latest seminar and into their biggest mistake. We also work with many investors who are in for the long haul. They do the research, they understand the market, its highs and lows, the strengths and weaknesses of different districts, building styles, financial arrangements, regulatory environments … and then they wait. Patience is more than virtuous; it is profitable.

9. Shock! Horror! Real estate agents are not always reliable sources of information!

The games played by agents are the stuff of legends. The dummy bids lurking in bushes and being plucked out of the air, the phantom buyers who are now haunting private sale and post-auction negotiations, the underquoting, underquoting, underquoting… Agents will help themselves to as much of your money as they are able. If you cannot assure them that once you have bought you will in turn give them your old house to sell, they may try to prevent you buying at all. (The only thing better than this commission is this commission added to the next.) And beware the estate agent who would be your friend. If he or she is such an excellent person and you have so much in common, you can have a great friendship—starting just after settlement day.

10. Impulse is not your friend.

People are emotional. You are emotional. People buy houses for the wrong reasons and only realise the dimensions of their mistake the day they move in. Floor plans that don’t flow, rooms smaller than they remember, neighbours from hell. ‘Perfect’ houses which need masses of money. You need someone to advise you who sees the faults as well as the promise. Someone who can save you from you.

11. The perils of exhaustion.

The people who have been looking for so long they have become desperate. Their expectations have slipped along with their judgement. They have been on the treadmill of too, too, too many open-for-inspections and too, too, too much disappointment. That’s you? Take a break. Or get help.

12. “I saw it. I bought it. Trouble.”

“I was driving past the auction. I just stopped and bought it.”

Please, don’t (see 10.) There are the lifestyle considerations (see 2.). There’s the inspection you need to find the rising damp, the rotten stumps, the dangerous wiring … All the terrors that add up to a lemon. Don’t. Just don’t.

13. Judging good buyers’ advocates.

They can point to years of successful experience in real estate—in areas and price ranges relevant to you. They know all the tricks. They have confidence in their abilities. They publish their fees. They don’t ask for retainers. (Why would they if confident of success?) Satisfaction guarantee? Yes. They won’t charge until you are happy.

14. Buying at the top end.

The very top is a different world. It’s more private. At the very top end much of the action happens without an estate agent being involved. Open-for-inspections are rare. Negotiations are often between solicitors. If you are not a frequent swimmer in these waters, you are well advised to get help. And see 7.
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