oc | Friday 6th December

Overall a Good Finish to the Year 2012!

Bring on the Bidders - 8 of them at 28 Chrystobel Crescent Hawthorn as and Sam Wilkinson sell under the hammer at $3,110,000

At 6pm on Saturday, the James Clearance Rate for $M+ was 58% on the 31 auctions we attended. The Weekly Review Bidderman, our demand indicator, was 2 bidders per auction. Today was back to a little quieter in terms of clearance rates, but there were some very strong results in terms of bidder numbers. Overall we feel the market in the Inner East has finished very strongly and on a positive note for 2012. By the Bay is a different story, more positive than 2011, but not as strong as the Inner East.


  • Hawthorn, 28 Chrystobel Cres, Scott Patterson (Kay & Burton), under hammer, $3,110,000, 8 bidders
    Back again in the Grace Park estate where last week a property…(See More in Auction Reports)
  • Hawthorn, 5 Urquhart St, Antony Woodley (), under hammer, $2,170,000, 6 bidders
    Bang! $1,860,000 was the opening crowd bid…(See More in Auction Results)
  • Glen Iris, 3 Martin Rd, Lachie Fraser-Smith (BenMac), under hammer, $1,455,000, 6 bidders
    Good crowd of 50 gathered around this good land and dated spec home…(See More in Auction Reports)
  • Toorak, 3 Torresdale Crt, Justin Long (Marshall White), after auction, undisclosed above $3,270,000, 2 bidders
    An avenue of Manchurian pears provided a picturesque setting…(See More in Auction Reports)


Year starts Tentatively

After 2011 finished with a whimper, the market mood from buyers, sellers and agents in early February 2012 was fairly sombre. There was a feeling that things were not going to go well this year, and this was reflected in the lack of quality homes on the market, the lack of buyers willing to push past anything remotely heavy price-wise, and a number of fringe agents considering alternative professions.

The first test for 2012 was on 25 February. The mood was actually more positive than it might have been, given the negativity around. Homes were selling, but they were mostly the well-priced A-graders in the early to mid $1 million segment, where buying and selling wasn’t about a discretionary desire, but a physical or financial need.

One area that did live up to the sense of doom and the gloom in this early part of the season was the $3 million market, the . It was as dead as doornail in the Inner East. And while Bayside had a little oomph over $3 million it wasn’t travelling particularly well either.

Easter Flush of Activity

Our first Super Saturday for the year was the pre-Easter weekend of March 31. We covered 34 auctions  with a clearance rate of  79% and Bidderman was nearly up at 2 bidders per auction. While there is always a potential for some  distortion in the Super  Saturday stats, given the smorgasbord of good homes to choose from, these numbers were compelling in  indicating that sellers were  meeting buyers and vice versa, and that there was some depth in the market when the price and the  product was considered good.

At the top of the Top End there was a surprising burst of activity around Easter, with five homes changing hands at around $10  million. But by Winter this segment had gone into a downward spiral with vendors staying strong on price, and buyers staying away,  and the big agents leaving it all behind on holidays to Europe.

Winter Frost

Winter 2012 was not a good time to be buying or selling in any price segment. Our winter headlines reflected what was happening – i.e. not much: “The Winter of Waiting”, “General Frostiness”, “Catch a Falling Star (price)”. Overall this was one of the quietest winters for some time. The market had pretty much ground to a halt.

On August 13 almost two thirds of the auctions we attended were either ducks (no bidders) or lone rangers (one bidder). By end August clearance rates were down around 55%. Auction numbers were still low, and an increasing number of recycled unsold properties (stales) were coming back on to the market. The situation did not bode well for an exciting Spring.

Spring Surge

Then suddenly we were into Spring with a bang, with a 75% clearance rate in early September – albeit on a smallish number of auctions – and a Bidderman rate of 2. Half of those sold under the hammer at auction, compared to just 1 in 5 the week before. And on the first decent sized auction week on September 15, the clearance rate was 65% with a solid Bidderman of 1.8. To us that was a solid pass of the market’s first really big test of Spring.

For the first time in months it looked like vendors were adjusting their price expectation to what the market was prepared to pay, that agents were doing their job and that, when the home was right, the bidders were also doing theirs.

After the school holidays and the footy finals there was a definite shift to a positive note – we noticed more people at opens, and much stronger competition when we were bidding. There was also a lot more going on behind the scenes, with people inquiring about starting the buying process earlier.

Sizzling Super Saturday

But the big story was about Super Saturday October 27. More than 150 auctions were slated for this day – the end of a clear four week period after the footy finals. This was the big test – and by our standards it was a sizzler. Clearance rates were up over 70%, Bidderman was at 1.8 and, of the 42 auctions we attended, seven were ‘volcanoes’ with four or more bidders. That was a significant improvement on the equivalent Super Saturday last year (October 22, 2011) which had a clearance rate of just 43% and a Bidderman rate of just 1.3.

Then, following the Cup weekend, this optimism seemed to take a bit of a stumble. The stats didn’t look too bad, with clearance rates in the mid 60%, and Bidderman at around 1.5. But the market felt quieter than it should have been given the great run up. Deals were still happening but not at the same level of excitement as October and, as another November week passed, some in the market started to wonder if maybe Super Saturday was a dream – that the market hadn’t really picked up and that we were going to limp into Christmas much the same as last year.

Market Improvement seems Solid

By the last weekend of November though, it was back on. Clearance rates were back up to 75%, Bidderman was up at 2, and there was no longer any doubt that the underlying improved market strength felt in October was still there . There was in fact a feeling of urgency out there, as if buyers suddenly realised that Christmas was just around the corner and that they had to act now if they wanted a home.

This sense of excitement even filtered through to the Top End $3 million plus market. After a dramatic increase in sales in this segment in October, by November the Top end could officially be removed from life support. There were around 50 sales over $3m in Inner East and Bayside, a very big month and a lot stronger finish than 2011.

Positive End to the Year – especially in the Inner East

Overall we feel the market in the Inner East has finished very strongly and on a positive note for 2012. By the Bay is a different story, more positive than 2011, but not as strong as the Inner East.

After a year of a ups and downs then, we go into 2013 a lot more positive than we went into the market at the beginning of this year. What happens next year will depend a lot on what happens with interest rates and the economy, but having survived a few knocks and blows, overall the market feels like it has reached a stage of resilience this year and there’s reason to feel more optimistic for the market over the next twelve months – but hey who really knows, that’s what makes the Melbourne Top End so interesting!

2012 Thank yous

In 2012 at James Marketnews we have had tremendous support from all agencies and agents and despite our sometimes hard lines and opinions (we do represent buyers, not sellers) we’ve had very few attempts at censoring. In 2012 we would like to thank David Hart of Buxton, who stuck up for our right to report things – David we appreciated the support. We appreciated the counsel received from James Connell of Marshall White, we have our differences of opinion, but overall there is a respect. Richard Winneke of , Elliot Gill and Nathan Waterson of Benmac, Jen Dwyer of , Peter Kennett, David Wood and Andrew James of , Michael Armstrong and Scott Patterson of , James Paynter of Hodges and Rob Vickers-Willis of Abercrombys are top shelf agents we deal with and have been strong supporters in helping keep Marketnews accurate, therefore informing the public – so thank you. We aren’t always in agreement with and but we have found both increasingly helpful and good to deal with in 2012 – thank you.

We have put together a number of deals towards the end, but this was also a year of frustration for many at the Top End (including us at times), as a number of agreements could not be reached despite diligent and hard agent work. In particular we would like to send a cheerio to Gowan Stubbings of Kay and Burton, Kaine Lanyon and Ollie Bruce of Marshall White and Ian Jackson of Kay and Burton who have kept their sense of decency despite some very frustrating scenarios.

Marketnews, which is a huge production for around 30 weeks of each year, could not have achieved what it has without the brilliant co-ordination of Simone Clarke in auction selection, the “keeping everybody happy and getting their comments in on time” wonderful coordination of Jen Milligan and the very creative editing work of Karin Derkley who takes some pretty average copywriters (me included) and guides them to be… well, almost readable authors. We also thank our trusty reporters David and Eileen James, Debbie McTaggart, Doug Paget, Joshua Bong, Randall Smith, Kate Agnoleto and Nicole Clarke who turn up more weeks than not, in the heat and the rain and the occasional good Melbourne day to report the Auction Scene.

To fellow advocates; Architect Adam, Café Guy and Call Gina it has been great to work with you and looking forward to an exciting 2013. To those behind the scenes – Chris Farrell (Board), Chris Seater (design graphics), Peter Tanner (Chairman of the Board), Michael Pharr (legal), Dennis Danaher (legal), Tam Chau (legal), Jacqui Calache (New Clients), Chris Grose (Video), Julie Spence (private secretary), Michael Sier (IT), Yener Adal (IT), Michael Simonetti(IT), Phil de Fegely (Auction Training), Naomi Adams (Accounts) and James, Keith and Randall (Pest and Building) thank you for all your efforts in supporting our clients and James Buyer Advocates.

To those at The Weekly Review, ably led by Eileen Berry who basically allow all positive and negatives from a buyer point of view to be written about the market without censorship – we thank you and look forward to working together in 2013.

To the writers in the press we think encouragement is in order, in that we feel there has been an improvement in the quality of content and reporting, despite a diminution of resources. To read a lot fewer stupid fireball grabber headlines and read a lot more about the real property market, we think, is a positive thing – despite the fact the big organizations are putting less into property reporting.

To you our readers, it is both flattering and staggering to see the thousands of people each week who turn to Marketnews for their information. We look forward to returning to your iphones, ipads and computer screens, to seeing you at opens and auctions and to reporting the good and the bad in Mid February 2013.

And finally to our clients – we do recognize a significant trust is placed in us to represent you finding and buying a home – we thank you for your support, for without it this company would not exist. Thank you.

From all at James we hope you have a safe and happy festive season. Our buyer advocacy company is open until just before Christmas, then shuts down for three weeks and re-opens mid January.

PS. We will be a new more reader friendly layout when next you see us in 2013.

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