At 6pm on Saturday, the James Clearance Rate for $M+ was 79% on the 34 auctions we attended. On what we covered it was a sizzling result (in terms of activity) and supports the market improvement most have been claiming in 2012. HOWEVER this has happened in five of the previous six years (see chart below) and so we are not saying it’s a new paradigm. What we are saying is the market is doing everything that is being asked of it. And should late April and May activity hold up, then yes the overall market has shifted into new, more positive territory in early 2012.
The Weekly Review Bidderman, our demand indicator, was 1.9 bidders per auction. When you consider the huge increase of stock on offer (this was one of only a handful of Super Saturdays in the last year) it’s a significant number. Interestingly, while there were only 5 volcanoes (4+ bidders) among the 34 auctions we covered, there were also only 6 ducks (no bidders) and two of those ducks sold immediately afterwards.
This indicates a depth and consistency in the bidding – a sign of a healthy market. The “solid market” commentary is also supported by the fact that the week before Labour Day saw a 70% plus James clearance rate as well – also on a very good stock day. In other words, despite our Clearance Rate of this weekend being stronger than other weekends, and stronger than the individual councils we cover, we don’t believe this weekend was a statistical fluke unrepresentative of the market for quality, well priced homes.
Our description of the market is not a future prediction; what we are saying is that right now the market is solid, very solid. If the stats and the street vibes say something different come late April or early May we will report that and any market mood change.
In addition good numbers indicate that selling agents have been getting the right messages out (although some have just been lucky). Overall, the high clearance rates mean agents are doing their job well.
This weekend was a culmination of a build-up in market strength that has been going on all month. Why?
- Many buyers feel they can’t wait any longer, especially given that the post Easter market is looking light on for stock.
- Many sellers have accepted that the market has dropped in price, they can’t see it going up any time soon (in price) and are prepared to sell when offered a fair market price.
However, this is not completely unexpected. And, as you can see below, most years in recent times have had fast starts. It’s what happens after Easter that sets the tone for the year. However, given that April is looking light on for stock and given the strength of demand shown by the very solid Bidderman rate, the market has a good chance of remaining solid.
The big, big question is what will happen after Easter.
Below is a representation on what has happened in previous years in terms of overall price. As you can see, when the Easter Bunny spins the roulette wheel where he (or she) stops on price nobody knows.
Déjà vu – 24 Kingsley St, Camberwell - this is a case study for the Middle $M+ Market over the last few years, which overall has been an incredible roller coaster but is now roughly where it was in 2007. The home itself hasn’t changed much – it still needs an ensuite and a renovation at the rear. The report below is from our extensive auction and ratings database on quality homes.
James Home Rating August 2009: 720/1000. “Really good street presence and with some planting down the sides will be an even better classic Victorian. Front rooms are impressive however the back needs attention. Will you over capitalise? – no. A good finished build is $2m plus in this market. Love the street – great width and this is a great area – private – limited traffic and a stone’s throw from Camberwell Junction – train just down the road. Good land. With a good renovation this could rate as high as 850. This is a great long term investment.”
James Control Price August 2009 : Dirt $1,631,700 + Building $400,000 = $2,031,700. We have based our price on land sales at 36 Moorhouse (1.65m) last weekend and 32 Moorhouse St (1.4m land for just under 600 sq m) during the week. Land in the area has risen dramatically in the last few months and this building, while needing a substantial rear renovation, has the makings of a classic Victorian home and therefore has substantial value.
James Auction Report March 2012: Bought After Auction $2,000,000 to $2,100,000. 2 bidders. Geordie Dixon and Steve Abbott of Jellis Craig. The crowd of around 65 spilled out of the manicured front gardens and into the pretty Camberwell street as autumn leaves fluttered from the trees. Steve looked for an opening bid and got one at $1,600,000. While it was a little on the low side, Steve was happy to accept the offer but quickly tabled a vendor bid of $1,800,000, which was closer to the quoted price of around $2m. Bidding continued with bidder 1 offering strong bids of $25k and a second bidder making $10k bids. Eventually the property was passed in at $2,000,000 to bidder 1, where negotiations began and finished afterwards between that and $2,100,000. (Jen Milligan)
James Auction Report May 2010: Bought After Auction $2,150,000. 2 bidders. Scott Patterson and Richard Winneke of Jellis Craig. A large crowd of 120 gathered under overcast skies on this picturesque street. Auctioneer Scott Patterson was keen for things to get moving opening with a vendor bid of $1,900,000, quickly followed by another at $1,925,000. This stirred two bidders and some steady back and forth bidding took place. The property passed in at $2,100,000 and was bought after for $2,150,000. (Architect Adam)
James Auction Report August 2009: Bought Under the Hammer. $2,000,000. 6 bidders. Jeremy Desmier and Alan Bramich of Fletchers. Great crowd for a great property, with about 120 people in attendance. Auctioneer Jeremy Desmier did not need to wait long for an opening bid on this Camberwell beauty. The opening bid was $1.2 million. Rapid-fire bidding from six bidders saw this on the market at $1.5 million and the pace continued in the $1.9 million range. Property was sold for an undisclosed figure. (Mal James)
$3M+ Summary: Solid finish to the month – partly as a result of vendors lowering their expectations as they feel the market may get worse before it gets better, partly due to some good stock and partly due to buyers not seeing anything of note on the market after Easter. Some notable mid week and off market sales:
- Kooyong 11 Moralla Rd - over $5,000,000. Expressions of Interest still working with Michael Armstrong of Kay and Burton. Below the initial quote but a solid result in this market
- Brighton 13 Halifax St – $3,000,000. At initial quote. Nick Johnstone of Nick Johnstone Real Estate.
- Kew 53 Barnard Gr - Paul Richards of Bekdon Richards for over $6,000,000 earlier this month. Below the initial quote but solid result in this market
- Malvern 8 Harvey St - Justin Long of Marshall White moved on Monday for, we think, over $4 million – We went through it late last year and thought it may take some time to shift – if he has achieved anything over $4m in this market it would be a credit to his persistence and a good result for both parties.
- Brighton, 2a Chelsea St – Sturt Hinton of Kay and Burton got this away after an eternity on the market for an extremely healthy result of $3,600,000 (according to another agent).
Another one has quietly gone in the Gascoigne with Kay and Burton circa $3m price level. And a result on the big one in Boroondara should emerge soon to give some leadership at the Top of the Top End, which has seemed to be lacking till now. (Not trying to be tricky but we do respect privacy when asked.)
As for our company, we have had two recent purchases over $3m. The majority, however, have been in the $2m to $3m range inclduing buys in Hawthorn East (Marshall White), Hawthorn (Jellis Craig), Brighton (Barleys), South Yarra (Hocking Stuart), Kew (Marshall White), St Kilda (Marshall White), Glen Iris (Jellis Craig), Black Rock (CBRE), Brighton East (Thomsons), Elsternwick (Biggin and Scott), Surrey Hills (Jellis Craig) and Balwyn (Kay and Burton) this month.
To keep some perspective if you read our archived $3m+ reports from previous years, you will see the same buoyant activity leading into Easter. When it gets really interesting is after Easter.
February Top End Pass-Ins still really struggling a month later!
But it’s not all good news at this level if you don’t get the price right. A month ago we reported on ten auctions over $2.5 million. Two sold on the day and eight were passed in. Since then a further two have sold – both at less than the pass-in price. Although the stat is on a small sample it does suggest a 40% clearance rate after a month at this level.
|February 25th Auctions||Passed In 25/2||Result 31/3|
|Hawthorn East||2 Laurel Court||$3,900,000||Bought Lower|
|East Melbourne||125 Gipps St||$3,850,000||Bought Lower|
|Williamstown||27 The Strand||$3,000,000||Still for Sale|
|Toorak||24 Heyington||$2,900,000||Still for Sale|
|Hawthorn||54 Glen||$2,800,000||Still for Sale|
|Canterbury||29 Hopetoun||$2,650,000||Still for Sale|
|Camberwell||123 Wattle Valley||$2,650,000||Still for Sale|
|Malvern||119 Stanhope||$2,600,000||Still for Sale|
‘Round the Grounds: Market Wrap Headlines
- Boroondara – Many of the sales were right at the lower end of a million and the pass-ins were mostly higher end – 62% on 50+ Auctions
- Stonnington – A drop from last week at 62% but 3 solid sales over $3million
- Bayside – Every one we reported on was bought – 9 from 9 – 70% on all auctions in Bayside
- Port Phillip – Two solid weeks in a row – a 2012 anomaly – 73%
A word from the experts: The market has improved. Which segment has improved the most and which has improved the least?
Justin Long, Marshall White (Armadale): “There is no doubt that vendors, especially in the $1 – $3m range, have become more realistic and, as a result, buyers are responding favourably. In the $5m plus range, there is greater price sensitivity from vendors, especially those not pressed to sell. But even then there is increased activity”
Richard Winneke, Jellis Craig (Hawthorn): “There is a lot of demand for homes in the $1m-$1.5 m range, especially if well positioned (location) and offering 3-4 beds plus 2 bathrooms. Least improved area - the $2.25m plus market is very patchy. The home must be in an A grade street and/ or fully renovated with a good floor plan.”
Nick Johnstone, Nick Johnstone (Brighton): “I believe the good quality family homes with 4 plus bedrooms on 700 sqm in the $1.6 – $3m range are the strongest. The hardest market is apartments, purely because there is so much choice. But the apartments that are well finished are still commanding good prices.”
Prahran, 4 Grandview Grove, Jeremy Fox (RT Edgar), under the hammer, $4,570,000, 3 bidders
This was a Super Saturday sizzler! Three determined bidders contested for this breathtaking property after auctioneer Jeremy Fox kicked things off with an opening vendor bid of $4,000,000…(See more in Auction Report)
James Home Rating 865/1000 “I found it hard to find fault with this home – it’s WOW all over – the flow works brilliantly, locale for Prahran is in THE street and garaging, kitchen, laundry set up is efficient and classy – the northern light is brought in nicely into living areas. The bedroom set up works and the reflection pools aren’t twee – they are classy. Do I sound over the top on this? This home will fly and I mean fly unless the RT boys cook the quote or the vendor is dreaming. Best guide is 51 Murray St Prahran in May 2010 (See our rating and auction report, over $3,700,000) and the recent sale of similar land size without the same WOW by same company a couple of weeks ago at 22 Murray St (north of $3,400,000). Our suggested strategy to buy – dig deep on the day or go hard and early now! ” Mal James
Malvern, 14 Lysterville Ave, Andrew Hayne (Marshall White), under the hammer, undisclosed over $3,300,000, 5 bidders
A big Super Saturday crowd gathered to see auctioneer Andrew Hayne hold court, quite literally, in the huge backyard of this house…(See more in Auction Reports)
Toorak, 27 Selborne St, Jeremy Fox (RT Edgar), after auction, $3,300,000, 1 bidder
Auctioneer Jeremy Fox began proceedings by accepting an opening bid of $3,100,000. A second bidder elevated the price but not enough to reach reserve…(See more in Auction Reports)
Top Bidderman Auctions:
- Camberwell, 9 Hartwell Hill Rd, Scott Patterson (Kay & Burton), under the hammer, 6 bidders
One of the first auctions of the day and it was well attended, with over 70 counted in the crowd….(See more in Auction Reports)
- Kew 11 Maxwell St, Hamish Tostevin (Marshall White), under the hammer, $1,875,000, 4 bidders
No nonsense auction here, in front of around 70 people….(See more in Auction Reports)
- Elsternwick, 4 Prentice St, Bill Stavrakis (Biggin Scott), under the hammer, undisclosed above $1,180,000, 4 bidders
A crowd of 70 turned out to see this Edwardian sell. Bill Stavrakis looked to the crowd for start where there was a geniune bid of $950,000…(See more in Auction Reports)
Top 3 Pass In:
- Toorak 49 Irving, passed in on a vendor bid at $4,500,000
- Camberwell, 12a Royal Cres, passed in $4,100,000, no bidders
A very gusty auction which at times silenced auctioneer Scott Patterson but it wasn’t this that provided the biggest challenge rather it was the lack of bidders present….(See more in Auction Reports)
- Toorak, 7 Grong Grong Crt, passed in $2,700,000, no bidders
Auctioneer Justin Long was on song at 7 Grong Grong! He did an admirable job of selling the features and location of this townhouse but it didn’t strike a chord with the crowd…(See more in Auction Reports)
Buyer Masterclass: How to buy well in this or any market – check out this week’s article!
Footnote: There were around 150 scheduled auctions over $1m in Bayside and Inner East; but a number of them did not reach the magic million mark (sign of the times) and in the end we looked at around 120 auctions – so today was an almost Super Saturday.
Market News now takes three weeks off for school holidays and low stock weeks – little to report auction wise. Although a bit still going on behind the scenes, such as an off market at 38 Sussex St Brighton (Julian Augustini), a ripper mid sized Edwardian in need of a reno, selling mid week before the formal campaign at mid $2′s; while on the other side a Gascoigne classic and a Scotch Hill beauty did not get acceptable buyers by the completion of the formal part of their campaigns and so the real horse trading begins over Easter to find the right levels.
Don’t eat too much chocolate!