oc | Sunday 15th December

The Market Is Clearly Talking to You

24 Howard

Mmmm, so what’s going on here. Who did what to whom? The market is clearly talking to you, can’t you see? 24 Howard Street, Glen Iris – passed in $2,825,000 1 Bidder.


At 6.00pm Saturday the overall $2M+ market results:

Family Home Clearance Rate of 81% on the 34 Inner Melbourne $M+ auctions we covered.

Combined with James (bidders per auction) @ 1.8 on lowish auction .

The Inner Melbourne Top End market is now consistently tracking below 2 bidders per auction in Early Spring. This is a major shift in bidder numbers from previous markets, of the last few years.

This weekend we finished our 100 Auction Market Test and while the stats are mixed, we think the result is clear.

The Clearance rate of the 100 Auction Test over the last three weeks, was exactly the same as earlier in the year – 79 AND while not as ballistic as this time last year (88), the clearance rate stat indicated a market that is still very strong. In fact the clearance rate stat by itself says the overall market is rising – it is not. Some segments may still be rising, but not all segments and not overall.

Right now, the market is clearly changing and in our opinion, it’s in a steadying process as evidenced by the decline in Bidder numbers per auction (even on lower stock numbers). This drop is substantial and if it continues as we head into a higher stock period; then clearance rates will drop, the dichotomy between A and C graders will widen and the overall market will begin to ease, as opinions change.

We believe the main driver of our market since 2009, overseas Asian bidding, is no longer at the helm steering us ever upwards. However, that market segment is far from dead and buried; more restrained and considered is now our description. It has been this way for a year and locals (the new market drivers) are now realising they don’t need to go ballistic on every single home – eg C-graders, and in fact, locals are assessing they don’t even need to participate, as there may well be another; consequently many high-end locals see the overall market, as no longer rising at an unmanageable pace – in turn taking the overall foot off the market gas pedal even more. Yes, locals still see themselves as needing to fight hard on some A-graders and yes, some of these results are still going over the top.

The graph below is informative on what is really, really happening in Early Spring 2017.

The market appears just as strong as previous years (if you look at clearance rates); but that is the tip of the iceberg  – in reality, the market is steadying below the surface, as bidder numbers drop.

There are still a reasonable number of bidders to maintain a robust market – but it’s borderline. The big test for our new market will come in Middle Spring (Grand Final to Melbourne Cup), when we will see if bidders per auction fall further or bidders have simply been discerning in our current season, waiting for better stock.

Interesting times for buyers and sellers… If ever you need a good advocate or agent it is now, in a changing market.

Why? Because reading the play now becomes an art form and one requiring due diligence and expertise – the final result is no longer a given, as it has been – up and further up. That in turn can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars or missing out, not just a few beers and she’ll be right. 23 Hill Street, Toorak – (see our rating, click here) at time of writing, hadn’t sold, although past EOI deadline date?

Graph: 100 Auctions in 3 weeks, over 3 seasons. The top number is the clearance rate – fairly consistent. The lower number is total bidders on the 100 auctions. Bidder depth (188) is lessening and a large stock increase will test the market a lot more, than it did this time last year (281) or even in May of this year (217). Overall bidder depth has decreased by approximately a third, year on year.

As usual we plead it’s early days and we are not that smart as to predict the future with certainty.



2.9.17 indicators


Last week’s Game Changer Stonnington Heritage article was the highest read article we have ever produced – it was being read at 500 new reads per hour last Monday (for an average time of 5 minutes and 10 seconds).

Does this piece of trivia mean that Heritage is the hottest issue at the Upper End?

The article also produced the most feedback ever – the issues were widespread and most were balanced, accepting the need for Heritage, but rejecting Stonnington’s randomness and “retrospectivity” and actions with the home in question.

The five loudest ringing bells:

  1. Stonnington Council’s town planning department is a tinderbox waiting for a lawyer’s class action to ignite them – which would ultimately distract resources and weaken overall Heritage controls.
  2. The only consistency about Stonnington’s piece-meal’s one-offs Heritage Overlays are their inconsistencies. This opens the door to corruption (deliberate or inadvertent) and individual hardship.
  3. A reason this is not getting a greater run in the mainstream media is the perception it affects “rich people” rather than “poor people” and the ability of the council to isolate and compartmentalise each dealing from the community as a whole.
  4. Another reason more period homes (without a current overlay) are being sold off-market – to quarantine from Council’s and neighbours’ eyes, instead of publicly running the last-minute council overlay gauntlet. Off market buyers read point 5.
  5. If you are on or off-market buying and you are planning to significantly renovate or bulldoze; then the paperwork you see in the Section 32 from Stonnington Council, should provide you with no comfort, as to the certainty to make your dream happen, after the purchase. You need further investigations.

In closing on this matter;

The people in the Game Changer – Stonnington Destroys Auction article, have not sold; are unlikely to at a fair price and our understanding is this may have a knock on effect, on a home they have already bought. They are real people and they are really hurting, through no fault of their own. The thrust of our strong comments are not about Heritage; but Stonnington’s behavior AND the need for council compensation.

We at James Buyer Advocates totally support community determined and consistent Heritage controls within Stonnington. However, the current “one-off without guidelines” approach by Stonnington Council will, without change, eventually destroy the efficacy of good Heritage policy, as their officers are seen as wolves, rather than the roosters in the hen house.

Ultimately, inconsistent policy will lead to a greater destruction of the buildings we all want to save due to corruption (deliberate and inadvertent) and confusion and then fatigue over Heritage; rather than rational, consistent and community understood and enforced policy.

Stonnington Council, at present is doing an inconsistent (and possibly poor) job of protecting your Heritage.

The final message – we as buyer advocates have to deal with and advise around Heritage (not specifically) on many purchases within Stonnington and we feel you can have consistent, community accepted and clearly stated Heritage Policies applied with reasonable timing and transitional guidelines on an individual basis; IF you have the bottle to do it.



James Auction Analysis: Same Property, Same Auctioneer, Same Result – History Repeats Itself, as it often does! Up 30% in 3 years.

September 2014: 222 Esplanade West, Port Melbourne (Oliver Bruce) under the hammer, 5 bidders. This was by any measure a single fronted home and it achieved just a tick under $3m ($2,920,000). WOW. Don’t get me wrong, it was worth it if your goal was to buy one the best homes of this type going round. A massive crowd of nearly 200 people lined Esplanade West to see what would transpire at auction……..

September 2017: 222 Esplanade West, Port Melbourne (Oliver Bruce) under the hammer, 3 bidders. A huge crowd gathered to watch this auction. The bidding was strong in increments of $25,000 past $3.3, $3.4, $3.5 and when we reached $3,600,000, Mr Bruce barely paused to announce it was on the market. At $3,700,000 the time between bids was slowing but Bidder 2 was still strong and not wavering, till finally Bidder 3 was done and the property was bought by Bidder 2 at $3,775,000, who threw their arms towards the sky in jubilation.

James Home Rating 727/1000  click here to see rating


This is a new segment designed to cover things that most buyers simply don’t see; such as off markets, EOI’s and …..well, things you might not know.

This week with our 100 Auction Test completing, we decided to check how agents were going across the board in quoting – it may not be that obvious.

So we looked at the 34 Statement of Informations on Friday and compared them to the 34 Auction results we reported on Saturday.

Five takeaways

1. Well done CAV and the REIV for enforcing/encouraging and well done selling agents for responding. MASSIVE IMPROVEMENTS on the ethics/legality of quoting from this time last year – MASSIVE.

2. There is still room for improvement, but buyers please understand the selling agents psyche – they have had drummed into them for decades – “quote ’em low watch ’em go and quote ’em high watch ’em die.” In this changing market you can see old habits are still hard to break. On pass-ins, some agents blame the new quoting rules; whilst on the other side (volcanoes), even if there are twenty buyers on the home, agents struggle to lift the quote. Having said that, the results below show massive, massive improvements in agent quoting – and you would be hard pressed to say anymore than a couple, are dubious. Personally, one of those below I felt was bulldust – two I’m not sure on and the rest seemed either spot on or around the mark.

3. The quote needs to be legal, NOT helpful to buyers – the agents are working for the seller, not you the buyer. Their job is to attract you, be legal with you, BUT get the highest price they can for their seller. Their job is NOT to be helpful to you, over their duty to the seller.

4. So if the home IS NOT a VOLCANO (or near one) the pass-in reserve or a sold price, should be thereabouts the quote, say 80% of the time (it’s not an exact science) and the other 20% the agents need to have the correct paperwork, to avoid a CAV please explain or fine.  SHOCK HORROR as you can see below, some are now within the quote – a year ago that figure would have been close enough to ZERO.

5. If the home IS a VOLCANO then, as you can see below, a number are still going well over the quote. I partially defend the agents IF the home is on the market within or very near the quote. One of those quotes below was very poor – two I’m unclear on and the rest seem reasonable. By way of example – how anybody could predict over $7m would be paid for William Street, South Yarra, which is a great home, but potentially next door to a multi-storey car park, I don’t know – the quote was 100% ethical and legal (on the face of it and in my opinion).

That is not to say that some agents are not still playing games, there are a few. Personally I hope CAV prosecutes them, however overall well done to all concerned. Agents please don’t talk yourself into non sales as being because of the “quoting legislation” – the market is changing – so the non sale may be your quote, it may be the home or it may be the market – it may even be bad luck – BUT it ain’t the quoting legislation.

Please keep trying and please keep being ethical and our profession may well return to one that people respect and our children consider a career in.




Stephen Smith keeps up with 4 Bidders at 9 Berkeley Grove Brighton East. Bought $2,515,000

Stephen Smith keeps up with 4 Bidders at 9 Berkeley Grove, Brighton East. Bought $2,515,000. Now at James, the biggest of burning questions is do brown shoes, go with dark suits – Arch Staver, Andrew Gibbons and here Smithy say they do – girls, what do you think?

Brighton, 4 Well Street (Stephen Smith) Under Hammer $4,125,000 3 Bidders

Port Melbourne, 222 Esplanade West (Oliver Bruce) Under Hammer $3,775,000 3 Bidders

Hampton, 11 Bridge Street (Nick Johnstone) After Auction $2,675,000 2 Bidders

For all 34 James Auction Reports


Tim Derham sells 16 William Street South Yarra for $7,010,000 with 3 Bidders

The Derham/Langley Combo at Abercrombys produce the goods again. This is a great home, but in a position of uncertainty and the result achieved was well above, what we would have predicted. 16 William Street, South Yarra sells under the hammer for $7,010,000 with 3 Bidders. WOW.

South Yarra, 16 William Street (Tim Derham) Under Hammer $7,010,000 3 Bidders

Armadale, 121 Kooyong Road (Justin Long) Under Hammer $5,100,000 4 Bidders

Prahran, 36 Airlie Avenue (Andrew James) Under Hammer $2,325,000 3 Bidders

For all 34 James Auction Reports


Keeping dry as Maurice DiMarzio sells 10 Second Avenue Kew for $2,880,000

Keeping dry as Maurice Di Marzio sells 10 Second Avenue, Kew for $2,880,000.

Camberwell, 78 Bowen Street (Geoff Hall) Under Hammer $4,060,000 4 Bidders

Kew, 1 Macartney Avenue (Jeremy Desmier) Under Hammer $3,410,000 4 Bidders

Kew, 10 Second Avenue (Maurice Di Mazio) Under Hammer $2,880,000 2 Bidders

For all 34 James Auction Reports

News of the shut down of the Asian market was proven to be greatly exaggerated with the result at 78 Bowen Camberwell (Geoff Hall) - Volcano, over $4m and under the hammer. BANG!

Any news of a total shut down of the Asian market was proven to be greatly exaggerated with the result at 78 Bowen, Camberwell (Geoff Hall) – Volcano, over $4m and under the hammer.


Brighton, 139 Cole Street, Passed in, $5,500,000 0 Bidders

Malvern, 10 Wilks Avenue, Passed in, $4,350,000 1 Bidder

Canterbury, 2 Chaucer Crescent, Passed in, $3,650,000 0 Bidders

For all 34 James Auction Reports




Mals latest ratings

9 Rubens Canterbury: I could not see a way of keeping what is there, due to tight stairs and needs a full reno out the back – because………click here for rating

3 Mowbray Hawthorn East: It’s all about angles, angles and more angles…… click here for rating

15 Bonfield Hawthorn East: Bonfield shows you don’t need to be cutting edge – you can be rambling and big and feel really good….. click here for rating

101 Stanhope Malvern: Mixed feelings on 101 – love the facade, the entry and the front room with fireplace – love the ……….click here for rating

14 Cambridge Hawthorn East: A really sexy little couple’s home, who are not fussed by an ensuite and are sans kids and past that stage…click here for rating

24 Kintore Camberwell: But I can’t get excited about it – first the builders must have been members of the anti-bathroom fraternity…. click here for rating 

6 Berkeley Kew: And so to the deal – when I was there they had the big guns out – Patterson and Savas – so it won’t be a walk in the park for whoever makes a move, unless you’re surrendering…… click here for the rating

136 Page Middle Park: Need a bidding and negotiating plan as $500,000 and then some are the starting parameters between good and not-so-good buying and selling – the latter two are diametrically opposed….. click here for the rating

21 Selwyn Canterbury: Was the most complete home I saw of the twelve I visited on Saturday – not the biggest, not the flashiest, not the most expensive – but the most complete….. click here for the rating

42 Hampden Armadale: My overall impression is – this home is establishment and has been well maintained and renovated – but in time the new will lose its shine and the old will still have its issues….. click here for rating

20 Selborne Toorak: The neighbours are the issue, they have set the tone on what you can do….. click here for rating

42 Llaneast Armadale: This is a home for the lover of this home…… click here for the rating

51 Hopetoun Toorak: Don’t worry about trophy homes, don’t worry about making a statement – this is a sovereign building – and you will have to decide, if it’s a home.

41 Were Brighton: Before I move on – the architect James Rigney is such an underrated high quality architect – not a huge ego, but obviously firm in what needs to happen – not self promoting and not part of the champagne set, but one of the best new build architects – especially when on a budget, that I have seen.

 And when you combine his work with Atkinson and Pontifex you have the dream team – and please no relationship business or otherwise with either of them – just an admirer of their work for a long time – which has also stood the test of time – this is a 20 year comment, not a bulldust 10 second TV one……………..click here for rating

For more James home ratings go to www.james.net.au or google address or better still become a buying client and get as many as you want. This week we have assessed, rated and valued another 30 across Bayside, Port Phillip, Inner East and Stonnington, both on and off market. And yes, we visit all we rate and no, not everyone is ra ra ra 93% or 5 star. Open, honest and expert opinions from Mal James and Gina Kantzas and the team (over 1000 buys).

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