oc | Thursday 23rd January

More and more choice for buyers and at good prices if you know how to buy well!

St Kilda 35 Vale St: Today with the rain, it's indoors, up close and personal. Matthew Young of Buxton firing up two bidders on the way to a bought price of $1,192,000.

35 Vale St: Today with the rain, it's indoors, up close and personal. Matthew Young of Buxton firing up two bidders on the way to a bought price of $1,192,000.

At 6pm Saturday the James Million-Dollar-Plus Clearance Rate on the 35 auctions we attended was 51%. Our Demand Indicator, Bidderman, was up at 1.7 – still hanging in there.

There is no doubt the market has eased, “corrected” – call it what you like. One easy word to understand  is “dropped”. On a few properties it has dropped by 10% since Anzac Day.  Some homes – mostly the higher quality ones – haven’t missed a beat. But for the majority, what seems to have occurred are minor falls – although that’s hard to prove specifically.

The statements from the selling agents seem to be leaning strongly towards a “supply based correction”. At this stage we agree. If we keep seeing large amounts of stock come onto the market in June then it’s logical that prices will continue to fall, until some balance returns.

Overall the clearance rate was 50% for 124 auctions we monitored in Port Phillip, Boroondara, Bayside and Stonnington. That’s in line with our James Million-Dollar-Plus Clearance rates – confirming it again as an accurate measure of Million-Dollar-Plus Melbourne.

  • Bayside – 35 monitored – 14 bought – 40% clearance rate (last week 46%)
  • Boroondara – 46 monitored – 24 bought – 52% clearance rate (last week 70% )
  • Glen Eira – 9 monitored – 5 bought –  55% clearance rate (last week 55%)
  • Port Phillip – 11 monitored – 6 bought – 54% clearance rate (last week 32%)
  • Stonnington – 23 monitored – 15 bought – 65% clearance rate (last week 69%)


  • While 8% were not reported, indicating a reasonably high degree of accuracy for clearance rates, the numbers of unreporteds are increasing.
  • Stonnington sellers seem to have made the price adjustments that some Boroondara owners (“wannabe” sellers) have not.
  • Some ripper auctions included 50 Hawthorn Grove Hawthorn (Paul Keane of Jellis Craig), 23 Ferncroft Ave Malvern East and 2 Carmyle Avenue Toorak, both with Jeremy Fox of RT Edgar. These auctions saw four or five genuine bidders (well above the 1.7 Bidderman average)
  • Selling in Million-Dollar-Plus Melbourne seemed a coin toss – you had as high a chance of your property passing in, as selling on the day – the first time since 2008.

First some stats. Last Saturday’s (May 29) showed strong evidence of “auction overhang” in Port Phillip where the clearance rate was 32% clearance rate on the 22 auctions we monitored.

Seven days later the reported clearance rate had lifted from 32% to 45%, with only three of the pass-ins and unreporteds reported as having been bought. On this evidence, it seems a stretch to say that in Port Phillip Million-Dollar-Plus homes are being bought soon after auction. There is overhang elsewhere in $Million Melbourne but not as much as Port Phillip. Which suggests the chance of bargains there.

Suburb Address Price Last Week Today
ST KILDA 8/98 Barkly Street 825,000 Passed In Bought
PORT MELBOURNE 266 Esplanade East 905,000 Passed In
290 Moray Street 950,000 Passed In
PORT MELBOURNE 110 Esplanade West 1,150,000 Passed In
73 Victoria Avenue 1,200,000 Passed In
108 Mitford Street 1,300,000 Passed In
MIDDLE PARK 32 Wright Street 1,400,000 Passed In
PORT MELBOURNE 3a Barak Road 1,500,000 Passed In
PORT MELBOURNE 1 Princes Place 1,700,000 Passed In
ELWOOD 200 Tennyson Street 1,925,000 Passed In
ELWOOD 99 Mitford Street 2,100,000 Passed In Bought
ALBERT PARK 144 Danks Street 2,401,000 Passed In
SOUTH MELBOURNE 93 Cobden Street Not Reported Bought
ELWOOD 1/481 St Kilda Street Not Reported

What Supply Overhang means to you, the buyer
1. More choice, given that new stock has to compete not only with other new stock, but with old stock which hasn’t sold yet.
2.  Better pricing on all homes as there is real competition for the first time in a long while – providing of course you understand the negotiating game and know how to play it.

Practically all last week’s unreporteds were still for sale on Friday – suggesting that the REIV view that 50% of unreporteds are in fact sold does not seems to apply to the Million-Dollar-Plus  market.

Perhaps in Bayside but not yet in other areas. Look at the latest 50 homes advertised for sale on the website www.realestateview.com.au


Auction Method

Private Sale Method

, , Hawthorn





Albert Park, Middle Park, Elwood



Toorak, South Yarra



We feel there are at least four things all buyers should be considering:

  1. Most importantly – home buying is still about best meeting your needs and taking a 5-10 year longer term view
  2. You need to sharpen your methods on checking all homes – especially pass- ins
  3. You need to monitor stales (old unsold homes)
  4. You need to reconsider offer techniques

Let’s look at point 4 in more detail:

Let’s look at a real life example in detail: one particular property we bought today was 27 Eddys Grove, Bentleigh with Chris Hassall from Buxton. It had a quote range of $975,000 to $1,050,000. We thank our client for his permission to publish these exact figures.

From the top:

  1. On pre-auction Friday we were told the property was on the market at $1,150,000 and that it would be sold that day (Friday).
  2. We checked the website on Friday and saw that it still had a quote of $975,000 to $1,050,000. We asked: Would we buy it if we paid $1,150,000? We were told that we could if no better bid came in.
  3. We hadn’t made a bid – so we were trying to work out how it was on the market at $1,150,000.  

First Offer Technique considerations (pre auction). What would have happened if you had bid then based on that information?

Anyway it didn’t sell, and come auction day the quote on the website and in the paper remained at $975,000 to $1,050,000. At the auction there was an opening bid of $1,000,000. Another bidder joined in and so did we – making a bid for $1,040,000. From $1,100,000 onwards we asked auctioneer Craig Williamson if the property was on the market. We were told “No” – despite the fact that each time we asked we were $50,000, $60,000 and then $70,000 above the of the quote. (Please note we make no claim this is out of the ordinary or an illegal practice as the REIV and CAV state this behavior is fair enough).

Second Offer Technique considerations (during auction). What happens if you had not bid, bid differently, or put in a killer bid?

Eventually the property was passed in to us at $1,120,000. We stood there in the sprinkling rain for five minutes before a Buxton salesperson came to us – they were too busy talking to the underbidders and other interested parties. My client, through us, was the last person Buxton spoke to. We are sure there is a perfectly acceptable explanation for this curious behavior. But versions of this happen at many auctions.

(Let’s point out at this point that we have good relations with Buxton Brighton and less than a fortnight ago we bought another $1m+ home through the Bentleigh office and were treated well by Ivan Blow and Craig Williamson.)

This story is not about Buxton or Chris Hassall (whom we think is a solid agent) – after all they got a good price and did nothing that many on the selling side considers untoward.  No – this story is about whether you as buyers have the right offer technique and strategies to best manage your options in this changing market. It shows the importance of good offer technique pre-auction, during the auction and post auction.

Back to 27 Eddys Grove: we were eventually given the reserve of $1,150,000 – with the additional strong advice that if we did not take it, then the underbidders would immediately be given a chance to submit their offers, and that the highest offer would win. While that would have been intimidating to the uninitiated, for us it was no problem. Technically we were being given first right of refusal.

After consulting with our client, we accepted. We felt the reserve was reasonable, we felt we needed to separate ourselves from the other bidders and our client really wanted this beautiful home. It was not a time for bravado but a time for cool heads, was our recommendation.

Third Offer Technique considerations (post auction). What happens if you decline or the stated reserve is a lot higher?

The case of Eddys Grove, like many others, begs the question of why the agent wouldn’t just quote the home at the fair reserve level of $1,150,000? That’s another story and a never ending battle with many agents. But we digress – our focus is Buyer Strategy and Offer Technique.

During any auction campaign you have three very distinct offer times: Pre, During and Post. As the going gets a little tougher for sellers so it will for buyers. So, as the stakes get higher, you will need to sharpen your offer technique before you count your chickens.


1)      What happens if you don’t know how to play the pre and post auction games? Do you join in and just keep bidding against yourself in this market; given you are possibly the only bidder – or do you miss out if there really is another bidder?

2)      What is there to stop the auctioneer at a pass-in telling you the reserve is $400,000 above the quote or their real reserve – and that if you don’t pay it they will offer it to the others? What can you do to defend yourself against a Clayton’s Reserve when you are the highest bidder playing by the stated rules? What strategies do you have?

3)      If, as a buyer you are offered a property with a Clayton’s Reserve and you refuse – does that mean the auctioneer can offer the property at a different reserve to somebody else? Or do the others have to be given the same Clayton’s reserve?  Do they come back to you? How do you as the highest bidder manage this?

For now, in the interests of our clients and to discourage this illegal behavior (The Clayton’s Reserve), in cases where we have won the right to hear the reserve and we consider we have been given a Clayton’s Reserve we will now publish (if we get our client’s permission) the agent’s name and the Clayton’s reserve given to us, We will also send a note of complaint to the REIV and ACCC. If any of our behaviour is as inappropriate as the Clayton’s Reserve, then by all means return our return serve back to any of our advocates.

We have a good many excellent selling agent relationships. They are important to us personally and professionally. We are shown many courtesies and keep many confidences (as we should and will continue to do so). However we are giving fair warning to selling agents, who, by way of example, quote $2 million and then tell us, when we have won the highest bidder right at auction, that the reserve is $2.4 million.

Agents, we would much prefer to deal fairly with you. Why abuse the auction system? If you want to do that why not use Expressions of Interest or some other method of sale?

Our offer technique management, in this instance, is to return the serve right back at you as hard as we can. We will still negotiate, but our relationship on the home in question will continue beyond the buyers and sellers signatures. If you think we are bluffing a Clayton’s Reserve from you will find us both out.

Apologies if this seems a tad emotive or self serving but the Clayton Reserves are continuing and we represent buyers and think these kinds of “Reserves” are legally and morally wrong. Simple as that.

Let’s move on.

Congratulations to Andrew McCann of on 115 Stanhope Grove Malvern, whose company to our knowledge is still the only publicly declared Melbourne based real estate company with reserves in their quote range. We videoed their auction today – it should be up tomorrow. Their quote was $2,100,000 to $2,300,000. The property passed in at $2,150,000 and with some negotiations was bought post auction for $2,255,000 by the buyer it passed into. That seems solid agent work. Fair buyer quoting; stated reserves.

Now let’s really move on – did you hear the joke about the leprechaun …

Buy Happy


PS  No Market News next week as its Queens Birthday Weekend and Council Wraps up tomorrow (Sunday)

Toorak 2 Carmyle: Looking like an almost drowned rat -Jeremy Fox from RT Edgar firing 3 bidders up with his banter and a smile. Bought under the hammer price of $3,375,000.

Toorak 2 Carmyle: Looking like an almost drowned rat - Jeremy Fox from RT Edgar firing 3 bidders up with his banter and a smile. Bought under the hammer for $3,375,000.

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