Forecast: Zingless Spring?

Morrell and Koren, the 1st buyer's advocates

Could this be the spring with no zing? For the first time since the 80s there are signs that this spring market … won’t.

No market to be seen. Gone. Kaput. Especially at the top.

When many in the media and even some agents are suggesting that the sky has fallen in, you know things have Become Serious.

And why wouldn’t they? Yes, we have a mining boom, but that’s in WA and may as well be in China. Here we have nothing but successive tidal waves: a government that can’t and an opposition which opposes everything (even itself every 2nd day), a soaring exchange rate, a US economy acting like a broken down washing machine and its repair man (Washington) whistling a patriotic tune and leaving his tools in the truck, the Europeans running scared from each other’s debts and maybe another GFC waiting to implode.

“Let’s buy a new house.”

Yeah. Right.

But, but. But.

While on the surface there is nothing to report, far under those tidal waves there are submarines at work, quietly investigating what might be available.

[pullquote]… sales are possible, but rarely are they the result of dancing to estate agents’ happy old tunes”[/pullquote]So sales are possible, but rarely are they the result of dancing to estate agents’ happy old tunes. Drop $20 or $30 or $60k into a marketing campaign when, if you have your ear to the ground, you already know who the buyers are? Unlikely.

Some recent observations:

  • Expressions of interest? Deceased. Some agents still to be informed. Funeral details TBA.
  • Downsizers going to market in Spring? Not when the kids haven’t left home. It’s another reason there’s so little choice.
  • Sales on nod and wink? Surprisingly (often to both parties), they’re happening.
  • Peep shows? Yes. Last week only one buyer was allowed to look. Sold.
  • Privacy? On the rise. See above.
  • Dreamers? Still hoping for glory and prices that are long-gone. (Melbourne supporters?)
  • New agents? Some kicking goals – making deals without $60k ad budgets.
  • Old agents? Some relying on laurels long-gone – now being left off teams altogether.
  • Top end and auctions? Not playing together any more. See below.

The highest priced auction sale over the weekend would have passed unseen a year ago: 3 Irymple Avenue, Glen Iris. Quoted at $2.4 to $2.6 million it sold for $3 million with a clutch of hands in the air. Our opinion? It wasn’t that special and you could have bought better – but what choice is there in that bracket?

Exception: 20 Barrett Street, Albert Park. Good single-fronter. Passed in to stony silence, but sold for $2.2 million soon after.


  • The games continue, the bowlers bowl, the wickets rarely rattle.
  • More than a few investors have been seen inspecting.
  • Signs are that if Spring ever sprungs, quality will rule.

David Morrell

Bear stirs in Bayside?

Still a bear market, but in Brighton at least the beast has made what sounded like a tiny snore and turned over. It’s alive!


For the last few months it has provided a convincing impersonation of that dead parrot: lifeless; closely attended by those insisting it’s in near-peak health, just misunderstood.

Then came the last week in July and a little shivering life in both auctions and private sales. Clearances still hovering around 50% but investors and first-home buyers resuscitating the lower end while further up the food chain anything that is true value arousing interest which just wasn’t there before.

[pullquote]Vendors still pricing in the land of last year are doomed to remain there.”[/pullquote]”True value” is the key. Vendors still pricing in the land of last year are doomed to remain there – but if the quality is obvious and the price is fair, there will be interest.

This could be a false dawn, but current indications are that a slow recovery may have begun. What’s now worrying agents is not a lack of buyers prepared to consider true value, but a lack of vendors prepared to offer it.

True value sells?

  • 28 Montclair Avenue, North Brighton. A comfortable and well presented 1920’s house extended to 4-bedroom family accommodation in a reasonably good and handy location. It surprised all present – not so much with the final sale price of $1.82 million, but with the number of bidders: at least six parties competing.
  • 118 Cochrane Street, Brighton. Also well received. Sold for $1.74 million.

A hop and a skip away, 318a and 320 St Kilda Street add up to 1500 sq m. Right over the road from the Golden Mile, they were expected to have builders and developers constructing forests of hands. Not to be. Passed in at $1.6 million and $1.08 million respectively; and sold to a near-reluctant buyer a few minutes later. D9s to come?

At 43 Wilson Street, the best the vendors could do was their own $2.6 million bid for a lot of house on not a lot of land (but with a basement garage and turntable). Reserve is a state secret, but anything above 2.6 will probably get a nod.

Mopping up:

  • 4 Sussex Street, Brighton. Reported as sold as a private sale at $3.775 million – we understand a sale was transacted immediately following its auction on July 2, with a conditional contract.
  • 14 William Street. An auction many weeks ago and a vendor who should be quietly relieved by the $2.85 million eventually achieved.
  • 18A Martin Street. Sold by Brighton’s newest agency after spending all this year unsold by one of Brighton’s oldest agencies. And a price cut of about a million (that can help).
  • 2 Shandford Avenue. Reported as a 10-room house on 542 sq m, sold for $7.5 million on March 15, 2011. Three months later, a unit at 1/2 Shandford Avenue reported as sold at $2.55 million. Same day, 2/2 Shandford Avenue reported as sold at $6 million. A $1 million rise in 3 months? Nice accounting if you can get it.

The rest of Bayside? Forgettable. Even Bentleigh failed to blip.

Damian Taylor

Something to say? Add your comment below.

Astute house buyers holding off on investing
Melbourne buyers’ advocate Morrell and Koren founder David Morrell also
said that new and experienced investors were still “sitting on their
hands”. … Herald Sun

Agents withholding house price data
But buyers advocate Christopher Koren said many agents were resorting to
”sneaky behaviour” to mislead buyers over the true state of the market
and that … The Age





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