Not quite a shocker, though a long way from solid. A real dichotomy between haves (those with bidders) and have nots (those with none).

Big auction, big crowd and big bidder numbers: 98-100 Mont Albert, Canterbury, Alastair Craig (Jellis Craig), under the hammer, $3,380,000, 6 bidders

At 6pm on Saturday, the James Clearance Rate for $M+ was 50% on the 36 auctions we attended. Auction-wise it was only the second 100+ auction day for $M+ homes in Inner East and Bayside since Autumn – and all things considered it wasn’t a shocker. However it certainly wasn’t positive news for sellers with high expectations. You can feel the market is slipping away a little more for them. We are firmly in a downward spike (which started on Preliminary Final Day 2011) on the back of an overall downward trend since Anzac Day 2010.

The exceptions to this blanket statement are quality, well priced Top End homes – they still have some real ooomph!

Going forward, there is a fortnight of decent auction numbers to go (around 80 on each of December 3rd and December 10th) before things start to really shut down for Santa.

The , our indicator, was 1.5 bidders per auction this weekend. But this was again very polarised around a few good auctions, with the majority having  little multiple interest.

Given all of the above, we have adjusted our James $M+ Market Indicator below Buyers Market to Cool.

The downward price spike may lead to a shortage of quality stock going forward, given that discretionary sellers don’t come into falling markets unless they cease to be discretionary sellers. There are a lot of stales (long term pass-ins) and rebadgers (unsolds from earlier in the year coming back to market) starting to clog up the machinations between buyer and seller in late 2011.

Next year’s 2012 Autumn market has little choice but to start with this anchor of overhang. How individual buyer and sellers will go depends in many ways on their goals and the skill of their buying or selling agents.

However, amongst this negativity there was a glimmer of positiveness from a mid week auction (Wednesday 23rd November) we attended.

58 Glyndon Rd, Camberwell (Jock Langley of Abercromby’s)
Private Auction only 7 people in attendance.
James Home Rating Excerpt:
Big home in the ‘almost ‘burbs’ on 2100 sqm with tennis court – it’s all about the land.
James Auction Report BOUGHT over $3,300,000
:  We attended this mid week private auction  just in case a bargain was to be had. No bargain, with a very healthy auction by Tim Derham of Abercromby’s. With three bidders it passed in for $3,300,000 and a bit. A deal was negotiated afterwards in excess of that figure. Strong result for outer Camberwell!

“Round the Grounds Saturday – Overall Stonnington was a shining light. Bayside’s woes are increasing due to long term auction overpricing at the Top End

  • Port Phillip – In a month when no reported sale has been over $2 million, this weekend was a continuation of the weakness with a 20% Clearance Rate
  • Boroondara – Under the weight of stock numbers, Boroondara continues to ease – 43%
  • Bayside – High end Brighton is not happening (outside the Golden Mile) and because of the continuing number of pass-ins, buyers are increasingly nervous, asking themselves: “What is the right price – is it a bit less or a lot less?” – 35%
  • Stonnington – Island in a storm. Vendors must be listening to their agents again with a surprisingly strong number – 67%.

Overall Market Summary for Spring 2011

In 4 of the previous 5 years, at this time, buyers have been keen as mustard to buy anything that was on offer – GFC 2008 being the exception.

In late 2011 buyers are simply not doing that. They are not lurching around like disaster victims looking at near empty supermarket shelves, snatching at stale stock, overpriced offerings and out of date goods. Buyers are there, but they are far more discerning than in years gone by.

There is minimal panic as most buyers feel 2012 will be better for them. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen.

As a buyer, if you can mentally cope with a falling market (and prices have fallen for most of the year on all properties except the best of the best), then it doesn’t get much better for you with the solid stock levels we’re seeing now  (as long as you can find what you want).

In this last few weeks of Spring, buyers have been able to consider purchases without having the spectre of “there will never be another” hanging over their head, because … there has always been another. That’s not to say there has been no competition for good homes, but it has been a far more civilised buyers market than for much of the last decade.

As for buying and selling agents, transactions have been steady, not at the heady levels of last year and we have all had to work harder (not a bad thing); but business has been solid enough to keep the wolf from the door.

For sellers it has been a different story. They have fallen into two categories: those that listen and want to sell and those that don’t. Or to put it another way: there are those that have a well priced quality offering and those that don’t.

Not that we’re picking on sellers. In 2011, buyers have also needed to listen. If it was good quality and well priced then you needed to compete or else you missed out.  If you bought it “cheaply without pressure” then possibly you bought what nobody else wanted and that is not a good thing going forward.

Late 2011 has in our opinion, been a watershed, one where sanity and balance has returned to the markets and it has been buyer led.

If 2008 was the year of the GFC, 2009 the year of the rebound, 2010 the bumper year then we think 2011 has been the year of the split and balanced markets.

The Inner Melbourne $M+ market is right now a real dichotomy – a market of two dimensions – there are the haves (properties with bidders) and the have-nots (properties with no solid interest).

All the data we collect supports this.

Bidderman: Look at these stats over the last 3 weeks, which highlight in our opinion exactly what has been happening to a large extent all year. Two weeks ago we reported 27 bidders on 5 homes and 14 bidders combined on the other 21 auctions. Last week the same story – 17 bidders on 4 homes auctioned and only 15 bidders combined on the other 21 homes that we reported on. This week we had 26 bidders on 7 homes and 24 bidders combined on the other 27 homes we reported on. If you are hot, you can be really hot and if you’re not then you need a panadol and a good agent.

Clearance Rates: Basically on auction day the chance of selling is 50/50. That is for every home the market judges worth buying it also judges one is not worth buying (at the asking price).

Stales: (long term pass-ins) The market is acting on properties where prices are adjusted, and continuing to pass over homes where the vendor remains committed to a price rather than a result. One month after Super Saturday a full third of the homes that went to auction still had not been sold. It is not true for agents to say they are all being cleaned up. They are not.

Expressions of Interest: No different to auctions. At the Top End last month we nominated 8 homes to monitor as having Expressions of Interest closing dates either side of the Melbourne Cup. Of those 8 – 4, or 50%, have sold around the proposed closing time and the others remain on the market. The 4 that have sold were goodies and they got exceptional prices. The other 4, well they remain unattached to a buyer.

Suburb Address Home Type Date Agency Result
Brighton 1/198 The Esplanade Apartment Oct-26 Kay and Burton Still for Sale
Brighton East 1 Clive Mansion and Land Nov-03 JP Dixon Still for Sale
Caulfield North 58 Howitt World Class Home Nov-02 Kay and Burton Bought $6m+
Toorak 14 Kilsyth Art Deco Renovated 28-Oct Kay and Burton Bought – $7.5m+
South Yarra 58 Millswyn Mid sized Victorian 24-Oct Kay and Burton Still for Sale
Hawthorn 33 Coppin Large Brand New Home Nov-02 Kay and Burton Bought $8m+
Balwyn 21-23 Fitzgerald 1940s on big land 28-Oct Jellis Craig Still for Sale
Glen Iris 25 Scott Home. Tennis Court Oct-26 Marshall White Bought – $6m+


With this being the second last Marketnews for the year (and by the way thank you for your support – we just recently achieved our 500,000th reader for the year to our websites) we thought we would look at the Top 3 things buyers can do to take advantage of what is on offer before Christmas.

1)   Find: Off markets, stales, rebadgers and pass-ins. Many homes are being re-presented after failed campaigns early in the year. If they failed on price then, why pay it now? Off markets are back in season as many recent buyers would be keen to see a quiet sale before Christmas rather than wait till 2012 – there may be a bargain there. Stales – don’t give up. If it’s a home you like then revisit with a  written offer – even if the asking price is baloney. Rule One in this market: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Man up and put the offer in!

2)  Assess Price: Use past sales carefully and change their meaning – sales of six months ago are now the ceiling prices, not the floor prices (as in previous years). The market is going backwards in price, not forwards (A graders excepted).

3)   Negotiate: - As buyers if you want to negotiate to your advantage while still maintaining a reasonable level of risk in terms of buying versus missing out on the home, then you need to be able to apply the Fisherman’s Friend Wet Fish Slap on overpriced homes. You know the commercial – where she gives him an uppercut with a wet fish. If the price is baloney and you are not going to pay it, don’t walk away – you may be doing yourself and the seller a disservice, as you may in fact be the best buyer. Go and hit the seller with the Fisherman’s Friend Wet Fish Slap and then apply pain relief afterwards. This is exactly what our selling agent friends have been doing for years in post auction negotiations. They hit you hard with a big number, then they offer to relieve your pain (slightly). So if you have a sensible price, go and offer it – you may well be the seller’s best deal and if you walk away because of your timidity, then both you and the seller lose. If a Fisherman’s Friend Wet Fish Slap is not your caper consider hiring a professional who can help you – it’s invigorating. And of course if it doesn’t have the desired effect – consider moving on.

The $3M+ market: After last week’s less than stellar showing at auction for $3M+, results were slightly better this weekend:


  • 98-100 Mont Albert Road, Canterbury (Alastair Craig) – $3,380,000 – 6 bidders
  • 25 Grange Road, Kew (James Tostevin) – Around $3,000,000 – 1 bidder
  • 24 Anderson Street, Malvern East (Heather Elder) – Around $3,000,000 – 2 bidders


  • 2 Collins Street, Brighton – $2,975,000 – 0 bidders
  • 1022 Malvern Road, Armadale – $2,800,000 – 0 bidders
  • 21 Wattle Road, Hawthorn – $3,050,000 – 0 bidders
  • 20 McGregor Street, Middle Park – $3,200,000 – 0 bidders

3 strongish results during the week:

Friday 25th November – 58 Howitt Road, Caulfield North has been bought for a record Caulfield price according to the effervescent Ross Savas of Kay and Burton. The price;  well can say they were talking $6 million and the calibre of the home leads us to conclude they would have got that, so over is definitely not out of the question. This was a truly great home, our James Home Rating of 838/1000 is one of the highest we have scored this year. The market is obviously still recognising and paying for great quality.

Thursday 24th November – 25 Montalto Avenue, Toorak ( Nicole Gleeson) – Basically land only for the area as the home requires a serious reno. Passed-in last Saturday on a lone vendor bid of $3,450,000 and bought Saturday for an undisclosed amount.

Monday 21st November – 6-8 Myrtle Street, Brighton (Barb Gregory – Marshall White Brighton). Last weekend’s biggest auction – and another private one at that, was completed at a price over the quote of $6,000,000. So another solid Golden Mile sale with land in excess of 1600 sqm plus some solid improvements and another good result for Marshall White in Brighton. While private auctions are very secretive they seem to meet the vendors’ requirements for privacy and a buyers’ liking for transparency – perhaps a way of the future for some key homes.

BRIGHTON EAST, 13 Holmhurst Crt: Mark Earle (Buxton) does his best to encourage bidding but to no avail, passed in $2,000,000, 1 bidder

Biggest Sale: 98-100 Mont Albert Rd, Canterbury, Alastair Craig (Jellis Craig); Under the hammer $3,380,000, 6 bidders
There was a real buzz before the start of this auction and the team at Jellis Craig knew it as well, as I counted at least six agents all coming along to support auctioneer Alastair Craig. The crowd size was decent too with around 70 crowding around the kitchen and family room. There was no need for a vendor bid as a confident opening bid of $2,600,000 was made and the auction was off and running. The bids came from all around the room and at times it was hard to see who was bidding because of the tightly packed crowd. But this did not impede on the flow of the auction and once Mr Craig flicked the switch and declared the property on the market a roar came from the crowd. The increased chatter and activity brought a tingle to the spine as the bidders knew things were serious and the auction moved up a gear. Six bidders were now fighting it out, each trying to outfox each other with small bids and big knockout bids; in fact all manner of tactics were brought to the table. But amongst the storm and flurry the original bidder stood firm swatting back every threat and finally emerged victorious in the end. A terrific auction and the crowd agreed who all clapped loudly and congratulated the winning bidder. (Joshua Bong)

Bidderbuzz Auction: 14 Clyde St, Glen Iris, John Bongiorno (Marshall White); Under the hammer $1,204,000, 5 bidders
A group of 30 clutching their umbrellas scurried quickly inside this Glen Iris property.  A “simply stunning” property were the enthusiastic words of auctioneer Growling Jack Bongiorno, to the assembled group in his preamble.  An opening bid of $950,000 was promptly offered from the crowd.  With his humour, Growling Jack had those in attendance laughing at many points throughout the auction creating a more relaxed atmosphere.  With four additional bidders joining the mix, the competition for the property was obvious.  The property was announced on the market at $1,170,000 and this news sparked a flurry of bidding.  The property was bought under the hammer for $1,204,000 to the applause of all. (Kate Agnoleto)

Buyer Masterclass: Negotiating on a property is all about balancing the risks with the rewards. Find out more in this week’s Buyer Masterclass, The Risks of Chasing  a Housebuying Reward.

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The rain didn't deter the crowds. 20 McGregor, Middle Park, Damian O'Sullivan (Marshall White), passed in $3,200,000. No bidders but a big crowd of 170.

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