The slowest start since 2012 – but is that bad news?

45 Rowell Avenue Camberwell, John Piccolo - Woodard $2,885,000

I love you honey, well done; 45 Rowell Avenue, Camberwell, John Piccolo – Woodards $2,885,000, 4 Bidders. Photo: Randall Smith




Welcome to our $2m plus auction season opener and the first weekend of our three weekend, James 100 Auctions Market Test; specifically designed to measure the true market temperature of higher end, Inner Melbourne Family Homes.

It’s 6.00pm Saturday and the James Clearance rate for $M+ Inner Melbourne was a middle of the road 68% on the 34 Auctions we covered today.

James , that is bidders per auction, was 1.5 – not a disaster, like late last year, but nothing like the strength of the last five years.

What does this mean?

Well, you have to go back to February 25th 2012 (Clearance Rate 59% and 1.5) to see as slow a start to the year.

Having said that, most properties that wanted to sell today – DID!

The market feels a good place to be – buyer or seller – it doesn’t feel negative – it feels sensible!

We appear to be moving out of a rapidly rising market (Middle Spring 2012 – End of Winter 2017) and into a more balanced one, a flatter one.

October to December 2017 now doesn’t appear a blip – it appears a turn.

A market of bigger contrasts in early 2018, than early 2013 to mid 2017 where everything…….. just sold!

BUT also seemingly a more solid market now, than in November/December 2017 (YAY!).

Toorak auctions and the living is easy. These onlookers saw 7 Tahara Road Toorak, with G-E-R-A-L-D sell after, in excess of $3,000,000.

auctions and the living is easy. These onlookers saw 7 Tahara Road , with G-E-R-A-L-D sell after, in excess of $3,000,000. Photo: Kathy Russell


1) We have started this year’s first market/season – the Opener – a lot better than we finished the last market of 2017.


2) 2018 has not started anything like, the market started in February 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013.

As we all know – one weekend’s measurement in isolation doesn’t determine a season – doesn’t set the year’s agenda.

Stay tuned!

Big Picture – the market:

If the stats over the next two measurement weeks remain roughly as is, then we will be saying the market is balanced right now, meaning:

If you’re an A grader you can ask a little more in your price and you will probably get it.

If you’re a B grader, then price is a flip of the coin, if you’re a little bit high.

And if you are a C grader, then you almost will certainly remain an owner, rather than a seller, if you are high on market price.

is now not “carte-blanche” of taking last year’s number and adding a lot – in fact it may not be add at all, it may in fact be subtract, on a number of homes.

That’s what a balanced market is – some for the buyer and some for the seller.

Smaller Picture – each deal: 

Today contained such a key stat – it’s gold, if you know how to use it.

At almost half the auctions today, if you bid, then you were the only bidder.

Hello!! Do you get the importance of this statement, before, during and after an auction?

There is so much room in this market to be $200,000 under or $200,000 over – even on a $3,000,000 home. $400,000 tax free – how many years saving or extra work is that?

November 25th 2017 as we left you


James Market News November 25 2017: It’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems – this is what we thought after today’s rout at Inner Melbourne $M+ auctions.

In completing our three week 100 Auction Test (Oct 22/28th and Nov 25th), the market recorded its poorest performance for the year and in fact, its poorest performance for many a year.

Of the 29 Inner Melbourne $M+ auctions we reported on today, the clearance rate was a measly 58%, with an icy cold Bidderman of 1 (bidders per auction).

This time last year


James Market News February 25 2017:  Ferocious bidding on the right homes – despite this being the largest auction start to a year in Melbourne auction history – the market lapped it up, spat out a few and said ”feed me, feed me, give me more.”

At 6.00 pm the James Clearance Rate on Inner Melbourne Homes was close enough to 90% – yep 90% and that was on a Super Saturday (a big test). 

James Bidderman was 2.6 bidders per auction, which means that whilst around 170 bought –  an incredible 270 didn’t  – and those 270 wounded underbidders will be back next week to fight it out, against a new wave of buyers; which in turn means the market will be going up, not down, ceteris paribus (all things being equal) over the next little while.


10 Farleigh Grove Brighton, Stephen Smith sold under the hammer 4 bidders $4,710,000

10 Farleigh Grove, , Stephen Smith sold under the hammer, 4 bidders $4,710,000. Photo: Nat Sullivan/Phoebe James

Brighton, 10 Farleigh Grove (Stephen Smith, Marshall White) $4,710,000 under the hammer, 4 Bidders

, 29 Grove Road (Hamish Tostevin, Marshall White) $4,630,000 under the hammer, 4 Bidders

Middle Park, 108 Hambleton Street (Simon Gowling, Greg Hocking) $3,375,000 under the hammer, 4 Bidders

For all 34 James Auction Reports


67 Kerferd Street Malvern East, sold after auction John Morrisby 3 Bidders

Puuurrrfecttttt0: 67 Kerferd Street, Malvern East, sold after auction John Morrisby, 3 Bidders. Photo: Bridget Agnoleto

Toorak, 18 Warra Street (Marcus Chiminello, Marshall White) undisclosed, after auction, 0 bidders

Toorak, 7 Tahara Road (Gerald Delany, Kay & Burton) undisclosed, after auction, 2 Bidders.

Malvern, 50 Horace Street (Andrew McCann, Jellis Craig) $2,905,000, under the hammer, 2 Bidders

For all Stonnington James Auction Reports


33 Canterbury Road Middle Park - Sold after auction $5,575,000 Oliver Bruce 2 bidders

Really – yeah, really!!!   33 Canterbury Road, Middle Park – Sold after auction $5,575,000, Oliver Bruce, 2 bidders. Photo: Rhianna Hoyle

Middle Park, 33 Canterbury Road (Oliver Bruce, Marshall White) $5,575,000 after auction, 2 Bidders

Brighton, 10 Farleigh Grove (Stephen Smith, Marshall White) $4,710,000 under the hammer, 4 Bidders

Brighton, 11 Collington Avenue (David Hart, Buxton) $4,610,000 under the hammer, 2 Bidders

For all Bayside James Auction Reports


5 Boronia Street Canterbury $2,430,000 Michael Wood 3 Bidders

Now, how good are we? 5 Boronia Street, Canterbury $2,430,000 Michael Wood, 3 Bidders. Photo Kieran Jiwa

Hawthorn, 29 Grove Road (Hamish Tostevin, Marshall White) $4,630,000 under the hammer, 4 Bidders

Hawthorn East, 1 Harts Parade (Andrew Gibbons, Marshall White) $2,900,000 under the hammer, 3 Bidders

Camberwell, 45 Rowell Avenue (John Piccolo, Woodards) $2,885,000 under the hammer, 4 Bidders

For all Inner East James Auction Reports


61 Murray Street Prahran. Passed in $2,500,000 0 bidders

Hey guys, guys are you listening, I want some food and I want it now. Hey guys, get off your phones and get me some dog biscuits – nothing is happening here: 61 Murray Street, Prahran. Passed in $2,500,000, 0 bidders. Photo: Kathy Russell

Kew, 21 Fellows Street, passed in $4,650,000, 1 Bidders

Armadale, 4 Armadale Street, passed in $4,250,000, 1 Bidder

Hawthorn East, 6 Anderson Road, passed in $4,010,000, 1 Bidder

For all James Auction Reports

The weather was mixed today, as were the results. 88 Linacre Road Hampton Passed-in on a vendor bid of $1,500,000.

The weather was mixed today, as were the results. 88 Linacre Road Hampton. Passed-in on a vendor bid of $1,500,000. Photo: Catherine Ross

Value Price

This week is the third in our four part series on and pricing – last week was building pricing (click here) and the previous week was pricing (click here)

Today we look at Emotion – the figure that allows the price range instead of a single price.

Land + Building + Emotion = Price (range)

A quick recap;

  • is not price and price is not .
  • Value is what you feel and price is what you pay.
  • You determine what you feel, where you see value and it’s different for everybody.
  • The final expression of these feelings of value between buyer and seller is the price paid.
  • So only you, can truly determine your value and there is no right wrong or wrong – there is just different for all of us.

In negotiations we have found over the years, over the thousands of negotiations, that being able to where the three combatants, opponents, participants (call them what you like) may be on value/price is a foundation for better negotiating – in terms of price, in terms of risk and in terms of current and longer term success.

Our definition of successful negotiations is getting what you really, really want.

So how do you achieve that?

How do you know how others may value?

Lets do a practical example of a price range which now includes emotion.

Here is a property we bid on yesterday –  we were not successful.

The property is at 22 McGregor Street, Middle Park.

Click on here for our James Home Rating and also then click thru to James Auction Report

Click on here for our James Home Rating and also then click thru to James Auction Report

As we stated last week the Base Figure of our price range, comprises the land price + the building price.

So on Land = 286 sqm x $10,000 per sqm = $2,860,000 and the building is a bigger double-fronted shell in need of renovation, which we have assessed at $600,000 so;

Our Base Figure is Land + Building = $3,460,000.

It’s a pretty important figure to get right.

As many times in a rising market, we say the chances of us buying below this number are such, that on the balance of probabilities, they are not worthy of serious consideration.

So in our price range figure we feel that the sellers, the highest other bidder and your opinion of value will 8, maybe 9 times out of 10 be above this figure if a deal is to take place.

You need to get your base figure as right as often as you can, please – you need to really understand the land and the building components, so your starting point is as accurate as it can be.

The Top Figure of our range is where Emotion joins in.

Emotion is not always a positive number.

A range does not always go up from the Base Figure – many times it does, as we at James focus on buying good homes and we have been in a strongly rising market. However, to help you understand more about about emotion and ranges we have included 22 McGregor Street, Middle Park, which we assessed as having negative emotion (due to its renovation) and so;

22 McGregor Street, Middle Park we have (Land + Building) - Emotion = $3,460,000 minus $200,000 = $3,260,000.

Our Pricing for 22 McGregor St Middle Park yesterday Our Pricing for 22 McGregor St Middle Park yesterday

Our Pricing for 22 McGregor St Middle Park yesterday

Our Price as a range is $3,460,000 to $3,260,000.

OMG you’ve lost me, Mal where did that -$200,000 figure come from?

What we are saying is without the renovation we feel the home was worth $3,460,000 (Land + Building).

With the renovation we felt most buyers would see the home as worth less ($3,260,000).

That is what we call the Emotion figure(s) and that is what gives your pricing rigour and that is what we are here to discuss.

Emotion is a figure that comes from our experience of buying in the PPP’s – that is, buying in that price range, in that property type, in that position – in this macro market, in that micro market.

By adding (or subtracting) the emotion figure, we feel that the sellers, the highest other bidder and your opinion of value will 8-9 times out of 10 be below this figure (TOP FIGURE) if a deal is to take place.

Getting "beaten" at 22 McGregor St Middle Park when stopping at our limit. As it turns out we believe the neighbour was the successful bidder. James Auction Report below

Getting “beaten” at 22 McGregor St, Middle Park when stopping at our limit.  James Auction Report below.


Emotion, don’t like that word – then use Error.


Stand at an auction next Saturday and point out IN ADVANCE who is going to bid and how much they will pay and do it to the dollar. Can you do it? I can’t – I can’t get anywhere near it for each individual bidder and I do this for a living and have bought over 1000 homes.

But what I can do with a high degree of probability (8-9 out of 10, most seasons) is before an auction; state that IF a deal is to happen, that it will take place with a buyer and the seller between this figure (BASE) and this figure (TOP).

And by “knowing” this (price range), through experience (emotion) and algorithms (land+building), we have been able to plan how best to advance our sides’ interests.

Price ranges are not just for auctions, they are also for private sales, expressions of interests, tenders and off markets.

Please remember 84% of all interactions DO NOT take place on the street, in a public auction. You cannot see the whites of your competitor’s eyes, so you have to make your decisions on far more esoteric observations, than others’ hands in the air.

Here is pricing for an older off market - the asking price was $16,000,000 adn we bought it between the base and the in the mix number after many months of haggling.

Here is pricing for an off market – the asking price was $16,000,000 and we bought it between the base and the in the mix number after many months of negotiating.

For us, we feel negotiations are fraught with danger without solid guidelines in the background;  Land + Building + Emotion = Price Range.

Knowing what the price will be, increases your chances dramatically of success and along the way not paying too much and/or not missing out, by poor assessment of risk.

If our clients know the price range then good things can happen, such as;

  • In a low risk manner they can reject false and/or unrealistic buyer/seller bids via the selling agent, well above the likely price range and;
  • In return offer sensibly and respectfully, a number within a range that will put them well and truly into the game, at a point that the future will not show was a ridiculous number.

By “knowing” what price a home will likely go for, allows one to provide some leadership in the deal, lest a buyer accepts that life is best served by ignoring the law of the jungle and blindly following what the selling agents tell you to do.

By “knowing” a price we have time to consider our allocation options away from the maddening sense deprivations of a screaming auction – we can make better decisions in the cool light of day – we have more rational thoughts and our clients have a quieter time to consider their position.

Having “unlimited” money can make it harder to assess value as it becomes harder to read your true feelings so in these cases what provides the feeling of value can often be time.

At this point I want to also remind you of the first value paradox we stated two weeks ago – the other side of “knowing”.

Our pricing system is a combination of algorithm and mind craft (science and art) and when we arrive at the final “expert” price range – one of the key and immediate next steps we have found in effective negotiations, is to potentially distrust our own assumptions and begin the game with an open mind.

Example: Yesterday we bid on 29 Grove Road, Hawthorn, sold at $4,630,000 – we bid, but were out of it at our Top Range (Land + Building + Emotion) figure of $4,130,000 – a full $500,000 below the final volcanic result.

Our pricing range was submitted earlier this year, we potentially distrusted our figures and we kept sniffing and digging during the campaign, as we are in a new market. We did revise with our clients (at our pre-auction meeting), that there was a possibility this campaign was on fire, we were initially low on the emotion and possibly $4,500,000 should be our new Top Figure. Our clients didn’t go there and as it turned out, even that would not have been enough. That’s why we remind of the pricing paradox, as there’s our 1 out of 10.

Emotion, price ranges and values are only part of, not all of, high quality negotiations.

Let’s get back to emotion and ranges.

The above case studies strongly support a range, rather than a single price.


Focus on a single price – if it’s too high, then you risk overpaying.

Focus on a single price – it’s its too low, then you risk missing out.

Neither of these would be a buyer’s desired outcome and therefore, it is the knowing that you are probably wrong on any one number, that strengthens the value of your price range in getting the best deal – the one that you really, really want.

Emotion is for us a better concept than error or deviation; it’s a more relateable and positive concept that allows a practical range and gives estimates far greater rigour, far greater accuracy, far greater trust – which over time lead to far better results for …….. YOU.

So in advance, how can we “know” a price (range)?

How can we believe in a price that will encompass others’ unknown opinions – the highest other bidder, the seller and your (possibly unknown) value opinions?

So how do you get that Emotion number, Mal?

Good price ranges begin with the BASE figure (Land + Building).

The Emotion component of the price range gives you the TOP figure and comes in many ways, from a knowing experience.

Here are 5 Top Emotion components on a home – that make a difference to price outside the characteristics of Land + Building:

1.     Macro market Bidderman

2.     Micro market Bidderman

3.     Agent

4.     Wow Component / presentation

5.     Asking Price

Emotion pg 1Emotion pg 2

Some other Serious Emotion Components:

6.     Heritage Overlay

7.     Light

8.     Ceiling Heights

9.     Bedroom Size

10. Panoramic Views

Emotion pg 4Emotion pg 3

Still not sure why you would put a seemingly arbitrary number into a scientific calculation?

Ok, why do some of the best chefs do what they do, add a bit more or a bit less seasoning?

The answer is: Better Results.

So good pricing is about the “better results” and with our next article hopefully it will come together for you; as over the years we have bought a lot of homes because our clients “knew” the “correct pricing” for them, in advance.

Land + Building + Emotion = Price Range, is a results based pricing method that we use, because it works.

And despite our admission that it is not perfect; Land + Building + Emotion does achieve good results – more so than any algorithmic one number solution.

Good negotiations and pricing are about parameters, not single points.

Phew, we have gone around the “how much” game to come back to this – You, the Highest Other Bidder and the Seller.

What will the price be?

What is my value?

What do you really, really want?

So are you feeling lucky …….. buyer? Well are you?  Oliver Brice staring down those before him at 33 Canterbury Road, Middle Park. Bought After $5,575,000. 2 Bidders

So are you feeling lucky …….. buyer? Well are you? Oliver Bruce staring down those before him at 33 Canterbury Road, Middle Park for a successful result. Bought After $5,575,000. 2 Bidders. Photo: Rhianna Hoyle


We have visited, assessed and priced over 20 top-end homes this week in Inner East and Bayside – 3 initial ratings are below – significantly more detail is provided upon client request.

Click in picture to go to James Home Rating

Click on picture to go to James Home Rating

Click on picture to go to James Home Rating

Click on picture to go to James Home Rating

Click on picture to go to James Home Rating

Click on picture to go to James Home Rating

Subscribe to our Market News Newsletter

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Be with James

Would you like to talk to us about finding or negotiating on your next home?
We buy 100 homes for our clients every year.
We buy Inner East and Bayside over $2m.
View more MasterClass Articles

Inside James Market News