oc | Saturday 25th January

Struggling to see the sense in only considering land + build? Me too!


Josh Stirling and Christine Ford, who are maybe are a little bit weird, sold a home that is even more weird (but we, who are a lot weird, really liked it) – click on this picture or google address for our James Home Rating. 21-23 Thackeray St Elwood Under the Hammer $3,680,000, 3 bidders.






East, Tony El-Helou runs a strong campaign at 29 Myrniong Grove, East – although we are divided on the brown shoes. Under the Hammer $3,530,000, 6 bidders. That’s over $4,000 per sqm for Anderson Park fringe.

Big day today for auctions and, despite the fact that this year we are dealing in more properties away from auction than at auction – as a company we were involved in nine today – I’m zonked.

We could not cover as wide a cross section of auctions (only 20) as it was all hands on deck – we like to have three people at the auctions we bid at – so Bidderman and Clearance rate were on a small sample, but still show a strong market on higher stock levels.

In a nutshell, there is a larger amount of stock right now and it’s highly competitive on the A-graders.

We are giving you the street flavour.

Personally involved in five today – one bought before – one passed in / still negotiating and three under the hammer of which we bought two and missed one – see below. Thank you to Peter Kennett and Mark Staples on the one that we bought before – we appreciated your decency on how the matter was handled and you got a good price for your vendor. I can’t talk about the one still in negotiations, as that is inappropriate in my mind.

So in wanting to give you some street flavour of what is happening in the market right now – I thought some details on the “under the hammers” I bid on could help you;

22 Chrystobel, Hawthorn (Jack Stean and James Tostevin)

29 Myrniong Grove, Hawthorn East (Tony El- Helou and John Piccolo)

10 Charlotte Place, St Kilda (Fraser Cahill and Sam Hobbs)

These had an average price under the hammer of just under $4 million. Each auction was aggressive in its bidding. Each auction was a volcano in number of bidders.

Each auction seemed to be on the market appropriately, although the speed of the auction at Charlotte affected the call. I felt the agents gave accurate information to me on all things except bidder strength – but hey, in their minds they are not here to help on that matter anyway. My point – we felt the quoting was appropriate in almost all instances – it’s not coincidental that the only we were involved in, that had a disconnect between market and reserve and quote, was the one that passed in.

The three homes in this spotlight all had the WOW factor in spades;

Chrystobel for its location in Grace Park – google address or  click here for James rating

Myrniong for its north facing, big and bulldozable – google address or click here for James rating

Charlotte for its land size in the area and quality of build – google address or click here for James rating

The market is on fire for the homes that capture buyers’ attention and it is relatively easy to which ones will be hot and which ones wont. The errors of some buyers are in paying A grade prices for B and C grade homes  – this one pointer of a bullish market means everything can look the same – every price is OK – wrong! Our only assessment error today, was we were light on for one in the price department.

Land right now, is as hot as it was a year ago – in fact it’s boiling.

Myrniong in the Anderson Park precinct – but fringe – sold at $4,000 per sqm just for the land and with six bidders, nobody could argue that wasn’t market.

Chrystobel is in my opinion a $1m to $1.5m renovation – meaning the end result will be $5 million or more and a 12 to 18 month project. Okay, great spot and bloody hard to get – but still, WOW and four bidders say that is what you have to pay late 2016 for unrenovated Grace Park. $4,000-plus per sqm for land.

Charlotte was a brutal auction – people wanted to smash each other out of the park and in the end, for a great home, the power of the auction produced a great result. I would not have offered anything like that before auction – but 4 bidders and a handful who didn’t even get a chance to bid, says that market is $4500-plus per sqm for land.

Speaking of offering before – if you believe me that some auctions are very strong and the auction gets the best price (and it does a number of times) – can I tell you how many agents I feel are either too busy, too restricted or too ………. to negotiate before hand and are literally leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table by routinely only going to auction.

There is no one-size-fits-all in this or any market, however with some agents you would think so, as they put everything in the same box – sign client, submit marketing schedule, go to OFI’s, turn up at auction – it’s the Pavlov dog response.

How about know your buyers, push the boundaries, mix it up, reach for the sky and sometimes you get a Pavlova – rather than a Pavlov?

Hand on heart, we know money is left on the table by agents not exploring before auction offers, not exploring more innovative off-market, private sale campaigns.

Auctions, by their structure, often only get slightly above the second highest bidder – not the highest bidder’s best.

An auction can get you 5% more, but it can also get you 5% less – that is a 10% decision. 10% of $3,000,000 is ………?

For buyers our message is clear – we need to have more innovative strategies (that work) for:

1)     Wanting the right home – land plus build is for the birds right now, unless that is what you really, really want to do. $4,000,000 plus $2,000,000 build on land without overlays versus $3,500,000 plus $1,000,000 reno on land with heritage. Talk about a beautiful decision and even better in 10 years time when the $6,000,000 newbie grows to $9,000,000 and the $4,500,000 period home grows to $10,000,000. On those numbers who are the real Blockheads! 50% growth with higher mortgages versus 100% growth, lower mortgages, free world travel and free school fees – whilst in all likelihood being closer to where you want to be.

2)     Finding the right home – on average, a couple of hundred buyers miss out every week – if that turns into every month and every year for you then ………. Look outside the system if, all it’s doing is giving you grief.

3)     Finding the right price – refer to point one above, but also – homes have gone up 15 to 30% in the last two years and a Buyer Advocate costs you 1% to 2% – if they can suggest a better alternative and buy for you now – even at “full price” plus fee – then you may be in front by a tad.

Just thoughts…


Nick did you order a Trump (Blow wave)? And mate you need some spray tan – its almost summer! Nick Johnstone at 2/124 Esplanade, Brighton. Under the Hammer $1,675,000, 4 bidders.

Hamish Tostevin (Marshall White): Very strong demand out there for A-graders especially in suburbs like Hawthorn/Kew/Camberwell and Canterbury! Yes properties are selling prior to auction or off-market when the price is right. We have big numbers at opens, which is in part expected this time of the year – sell befores, big OFI’s and off markets are all strong indicators on the mood in the market place – WOW!

Arch Staver (Nelson Alexander): Market is very strong right now, especially for A-graders and while buyers are thinking outside the dots, we as selling agents need to be as well. Running a number of different strategies away from the usual net, OFI, hammer!


Malvern, 18 Soudan Street (John Bongiorno) – Under the Hammer $4,240,000, 3 bidders

Toorak, 4 Nola Court (Rodney Morley) – Under the Hammer $4,000,000, 3 bidders

Hawthorn, 22 Chrystobel Crescent (James Tostevin) – Under the Hammer, 4 bidders

Click here for James Auction Reports


Grace Park – 22 Chrystobel Crescent, Hawthorn James Tostevin at his belligerent best, bosses around the bidders and bashes out a beautiful number. Under the Hammer, 4 bidders – over $3,500,000.


Hawthorn East, 29 Myrniong Grove (John Piccolo)  – Under the Hammer $3,530,000, 6 bidders

Canterbury, 17 Irilbarra Road (Damien Davis) – Under the Hammer $3,400,000, 4 bidders

Hampton, 107 Willis Street (Stephen Tickell) – Under the Hammer $2,980,000, 4 bidders

Click here for James Auction Reports


Hawthorn, 50 Kinkora Road – Passed In $5,050,000, 0 bidders

Malvern East, 14 Beaver Street – Passed In $4,000,000, 0 bidders

Elwood, 67 Ormond Esplanade – Passed In $4,000,000, 0 bidders

Click here for James Auction Reports


Welcome to the 2nd of our 3 part series on Beautiful Decisions.

Beautiful decisions – buying and selling a home.

Last week we outlined that there are beautiful decisions to make. Click here for that article

This week we are looking at a process that will help you make beautiful decisions.

Next week we will look at how your beautiful decisions may look in real life.

Process, smocess – how bloody boring.  If you’re talking spreadsheets etc. Na, I’m not interested Mal, I’m winging it and besides, the good property things only happen to other people – not me – I had a birth defect that prevents me from making beautiful decisions on property.


Beautiful decision processes are not difficult and they are not monopolies.

There is the long term Jewish family beautiful decision process, the Greek/Italian migrant beautiful decision process, the new wave Chinese people’s beautiful decision process, the boring Mum and Dad beautiful decision process and there is the James Home Rating beautiful decision process.

The differences on the above are minutiae.

The sameness of them all is remarkable.

The sameness is:

· The content of the process is almost identical.

· The content of the process is almost identical and it works.

· The content of the process is almost identical and it works – when you follow it.

Lets look at the process content (PPP’s) of a beautiful decision:

· Buy good land at a good price, don’t pay too much for the home, hold it for a long time.

· Good land is not always sized based, although that is a great starting component – the most common denominator is position.

· The best homes are free – and remain relatively free for the lifetime of the ownership – meaning renovations are modest as a percentage of overall .

· Good position has a number of common denominators in relation to , schools and amenity – with the train being the most solid of indicators of good position.

· Price – what is a good price? Market value is a concept that is only subscribed to on good land/homes. Discounts are looked for and sought after, but never on rubbish – eg High end  are like junk bonds, financially. High end  only work when the lifestyle component dominates your beautiful decision process of rigour (which is fair enough, we do buy where it is an informed lifestyle decision).

Powerful auction Fraser and big speech - but 15 minutes in the hot sun before the battle began, saw only the strong survive. 10 Charlotte St Kilda, over $4m, 4 bidders. Fraser Cahill and Sam Hoobs

Powerful auction. Long speech meant 15 minutes in the hot sun before the battle began, so it was a quick and brutal interplay as only the strong had survived. 10 Charlotte St Kilda, over $4m, 4 bidders. Fraser Cahill and Sam Hobbs

Okay, but Mal there is more to a home than PPP’s – what about I want a pool – what about where my kids go to school, what about the new bench top for the Missus or a big garage for my toys, buddy?

Of course you can have a pool and ……..? Put that into your beautiful decision process.

Good processes for beautiful decisions only work if you are buying what you really, really want – otherwise, what is the point.

Our view is just add a few more things into your process than a pool, shiny benchtop and eight car garage. Add in good land, not too far from the train, in a home that you are not paying a poultice for.

In other words, add in good PPP’s (Price, Property, Position) as well as your greatest desires such as a 12 car garage – why stop at 8.

Your three 3P’s – Price, Property and Position are the levers you can manipulate in your matching. Make a beautiful decision on what may be good for you versus what there is versus what you want.

Why not get a good benchtop and a good land size, a good bedroom and a good price, a good pool and a good position near the train.

James Home Ratings is a process for making beautiful decisions by combining what you really want and what is really good for you and at the right price.

Three key steps to a beautiful decision:

  • What is it I really, really want? ()
  • Is this it – is this any good? (Assessment)
  • How much, how do I best get it? (Negotiation)

Can we dispel the myth that James Home Ratings or any beautiful decision process requires an enormous amount of intelligence (we are living proof, no rocket scientists at James) or that it requires some incredible god given skill, only possessed by the wealthy. In fact a beautiful decision process, will in all likelihood take less time, be less effort and require less brainpower/stress than an ugly decision.

All a beautiful property decision requires:

  • is a small amount of inner strength to
  • follow a proven process (no shortcuts) that works and to perhaps modify (not completely ignore) some of your wants in relation to a more holistic beautiful decision and;
  • an experienced guide to assist you along the way.

So Mal – you lied – you said a good, a beautiful process involved getting what you really, really wanted – yet you are saying in some cases I will need to modify my wants.

No, but yes – a beautiful decision will get you what you really, really want as it will help you clarify what it is you really, really want.

After a while you may well work out that a shiny benchtop is important, but so is a short walk to the train and lower mortgage payments, or you may work out in fact that you need a 16 car garage (why stop at 12) and you are prepared to pay for it when the opportunity arises and therefore you will go further out into the ‘burbs, accept longer travel time to school and poorer – because that is what you really, really want OR you may work out that a 2 car garage, shorter travel time to school, wooden bench top and better capital growth is what you really, really want – more money in your pocket after mortgage and more in your super, plus free world travel and free private school fees is better than the stress of a Blockhead, travertine, designer sink with gold plated wing nuts at an auction where the final bidding scene resembled an international war zone.

That’s what I think makes a beautiful decision – it’s what you really, really want; not what just happens to pop into your brain this hour/week/month.

Below is the James Home Ratings beautiful process checklist that over 1000 , over 15 years have followed.

This is direct from our James Home Ratings – you may think it’s a boring process, we follow it time after time and guess what it produces and we don’t find it boring. Almost no mistakes and almost always beautiful decisions – if that’s boring – give me boredom any-day baby!


Some perspective on following a beautiful decision process and getting what it is you really, really want.

You probably won’t require big changes to your property life.

You just require a focus, a commitment to be better off.

Western Bulldogs didn’t win the premiership because they were a superior team by an incredibly large margin.

They won because they matched on most and were superior on a few more things than Sydney and GWS and Hawthorn and West Coast.

They had a game plan and executed well – not perfectly – but well.

They also had a first rate guide.

I so loved Luke Beveridge’s comments when he said:

Most people at the start thought we were a 90% chance of losing and a 10% chance of making it and we chose to focus 100% on the 10%.

That is such a brilliant comment about negotiations and beautiful decisions – some of which at the start seem impossible to achieve.

  • What is it I really, really want? (Clarity)
  • Is this it – is this any good? (Assessment)
  • How much, how do I best get it? (Negotiation)

Until next week then, when we outline what beautiful decisions look like in real life.


What will the market be doing in the future? Have a look at the latest Market Insight video to see what I think…

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