oc | Monday 9th December

Is the market a dangerous place?

11 Charnwood Road, St Kilda - Passed in, 0 Bidders

Seriously, it was like this scene everywhere today. 11 Charnwood Road, St Kilda – Passed in, 0 Bidders.


As you read this, I am preparing to go to Everest. The Himalayas are a life long dream.

I think I understand the risks, which include death.

Training, equipment and medicines tick, tick and tick.

And choosing a guide – that was my most rigorous selection process. Whilst there is an element of luck, I want to avoid whatever serious mistakes I can, on the trek to Base Camp.

Under the right circumstances and with the right advice from the right guide, I am told it can be a relatively safe place to traverse.

In 2019, Everest for many buyers, will be buying/selling a home and

by logic, many buyers think this is an “unsafe” market.

If they didn’t, then they would be in this market and then by logic, this market would be  “safer”  due to increased demand.

So is this a “dangerous” market or can you travel the 2019 market with a high degree of safety?

Why do some buyers and sellers think it is a “dangerous” market?

  • Unsold homes causing great stress and prices seem to be falling further all the time.
  • Banks no longer lending in such a way that buy/sell mistakes are easily covered up; like they were in the past.
  • Buying the wrong home or overpaying on its intrinsic value restricts long term growth and therefore, your future lifestyle.

We would argue that our current market in 2019 has no different a risk profile to the markets of 2016, 2012, 2008 and so on.

In fact, in 2019, we would argue that with good planning, good processes and good guides (advocates/agents) you can get some great outcomes.

Here is proof – the buying and selling of two x $3 million-plus homes last weekend.

Here is how it happened for Mike and Kendra (M&K) – their real names!

Welcome to an anatomy of a buy/sell in a “dangerous” market?

A how-to guide for your real-life market Everest.

True Story – last week

We bought and sold for the same clients in 90 minutes last Saturday, three months in the making, 90 minutes in the execution.

Bought 7 Bolton, at public auction with 3 bidders (we told you about that last week).

7 Bolton Hampton (Elizabeth Lopez)

7 Bolton, Hampton. Dennis Bowen-Day, Sherife Olmez and Elizabeth Lopez (Agents), Mike and Kendra (Clients) and Mal and Gina (Buyer Advocates).

Sold 15 Lambeth Ave, off-market (through ) 90 minutes before we bought in Hampton (it had cooling-off to go, so we didn’t mention it last week).

Off Market 15 Lambeth Armadale (Justin Long)

M&K’s existing home 15 Lambeth, Armadale sold off-market in 7 days: Gina, Mal (acting as seller advocates) and Justin Long (selling agent).


A. Met Mike and Kendra in late 2012 when they engaged Gina@James to find a home for their growing family and then negotiate a price on 15 Lambeth Ave, Armadale (asking $2,250,000, failed to sell, Gina bought on M&K’s behalf for $1,955,000).

B. M&K looked to sell in 2015, ran it themselves – decided not to sell.

3 months ago

C. M&K met with Mal and Gina late in 2018 and gave us a brief  – Move to Hampton (for children’s schooling) and sell the home we bought for them in Armadale in 2012.

February 2019

D. 7 Bolton, Hampton was sourced as a buy and due diligence began including pest and building, legal, pricing, bidding strategies. * Key danger guided away from here.

E. We suggested they approach the bank again as the number they were given was expected to be a little shy on 7 Bolton, due to not being above a specific $ step, that most banks restrict buyers to these days. They found a solution and this proved critical in buying 7 Bolton. Well done M&K. * Key safety feature guided towards here.

F. Simultaneously we upped the ante on selling 15 Lambeth and that began with organising a shortlist of suitable agents to consider selling the home and arranging the production of the Section 32 and contract of sale. Agents were interviewed to a set process with us and M&K. * Key danger guided away from here – the wrong shortlist.

G. Justin Long was selected from three agents for his excellent pre-meeting work and enthusiasm and also Fiona (very competent agent) was to be front and centre. Two agents gave ranges $2.8m to $3.08m and one considerably lower. * Key safety feature guided towards here – knowing the position of a first offer, due to solid process.

H. Off market was selected for several reasons and acted as a lead-in with a probable auction campaign to follow if not successful. * Key danger guided away from here.

I. Presentation, contracts (so vital in getting the deal done), potential buyer contact and quiet opens were all completed within a week. * Key safety feature guided towards here.

J. Conflict factor: we@James also had a buyer – that was handled in writing to the satisfaction of both buyer and seller – this buying client did not bid due to deciding that 15 Lambeth was not for them.

K. Offer from another buyer on Justin’s database encouraged by Justin during the off-market process. An offer was made, it was in excess of $3m and it was accepted last Saturday pending a pest and building. It should be noted that a buyer agent (not us) bought this home on behalf of their client whilst that buyer was away. Good buyer agents are of value. Price paid was fair to both buyer and seller. Great job Justin Long.

L. We (M&K, Gina and Mal) went to the 7 Bolton auction a little more boldly and bought it under the hammer (see the full report last weekend’s James market news) Well sold Elizabeth Lopez.

M. 7 Bolton was bought unconditional on Saturday as it was an auction. 15 Lambeth had a Pest and Building completed satisfactorily on Tuesday and the cooling-off completed on Wednesday.

N. Settlements were suitable to M&K on both. * Key danger guided away from here.


Banks: Are difficult and actually they’ve gone too far the other way. But remember what your teacher used to say at exam time – how you are feeling is how almost everybody else in that exam is feeling. So with banks and exams – keep going – don’t give up!

Buy: 7 Bolton Hampton:  we did a full analysis on this last weekend – click here

Sell: 15 Lambeth, Armadale: Growth 2012 – 2019 with a cosmetic renovation was 58% – not too shabby. If the property had been bought at full price in 2012 and sold at the lower part of the quote in 2019 then growth would have been 24% – less than half.  This is what good guides (selling and buying agents) do in every market.

Buy & Sell: The changeover result could well have been similar in 2016, 2017 or 2019.

It wasn’t the market that determined the quality of outcome, it was the process and players that decided that.


1. Off markets can work – you just need to know real from rubbish. * Key safety feature guided towards here.

2. Attention to detail, especially when selecting a guide.  All agents are not the same. * Key safety feature guided towards here. If you’re showing a home, have a contract ready for an offer, don’t wait a fortnight. Yes, the banks are tougher, but you can work around issues with some effort and minor tweaks can make major differences to results.

3. Really, could this have been done DIY? Or are good agents and advocates of some value in this market?

4. When you buy a good home well and you sell a good home well, eg A-graders like 15 Lambeth (right position, right property and right prices); then very good outcomes are still available in this market.

Was it luck or was it genius

It was some luck – but the harder you work, the luckier you get!

But who are the real geniuses?

The agents? No. The buy/sell advocate? Nope. All of us are simply doing our jobs and hopefully, well.

The real geniuses or is it genii, are clients Mike and Kendra and they have the last word on buying and selling in this market.

You’ve heard from us, now from Mike & Kendra:

We’ve bought twice and sold once with Mal and Gina. In each case, contracts were finalised within weeks of the initial brief – more by circumstance than design but only made possible by retaining a knowledgable team. We’re often asked “why do we use a buyers’ advocate”? The answer is always the same, if you are 100% confident in the value of the property you’re attempting to buy, the market is stable, you’re confident that it will be bought under the hammer, you have all the time in the world, and you’re not worried if you miss this property… then by all means go it alone.  But when does that ever really happen? Certainly not in today’s imperfect market. 
The benefits that Mal and Gina have bought to our process are many, but their killer value is the true understanding they gave us on the property (quality and value, street-by-street), the market, and all likely process outcomes; so we could afford to be extremely aggressive in purchase decisions from a position of confidence. Neither of our purchases would have happened without them and we have zero nervousness that we may have bought badly. It’s not an admission of weakness to retain an advocate, it’s a smart move to be in a stronger position than the competition on auction day.
We wish Mal, Gina and the wider James team all the best with the business. They’re lovely people to deal with and we’ll be back in touch for the next move when the kids leave home…

Privacy: We sincerely thank Mike and Kendra for going out of their way in allowing us to publish this – we are huge on privacy – we asked for their permission for the common good of this article and they agreed. So thank you – they were also given a copy for approval on Friday, prior to publishing today, Saturday.

Timing: It should be clearly stated that the average time for a buy/sell is not usually as quick as this, but great results are still possible in this market.


It’s Saturday 6.00pm and the results are in for the second key auction week for 2019 and also the second key measuring week for the James 100 Auction test (100 randomly chosen homes over 3 weekends Feb 23, Mar 2 & 23).

Today we covered 33 Auctions across Bayside (Bayside + Port Phillip); Stonnington and Boroondara. Last week we covered 36.

Mar 23 we will cover the final 31 to complete our random 100 auction test for $M+ plus family homes in Inner Melbourne

And the market today was: Awful

Last week we said it was hanging on by the skin of its teeth with the Feb Pep.

Today it let go – low 40’s for the Clearance Rate and Bidderman (bidders per auction) was below 1 today – meaning prices are continuing to fall.

Stonnington: Not a lot on today and compared to last week the complete reverse, with very little selling.

Bayside: Holding up surprisingly well – all we can say is unlike Boroondara the agents seem to have their act together.

Boroondara: Scotch Hill was like a cemetery today. More auctions than bidders.

Ducks & Lone Rangers: 27 of the 33 auctions we covered today had 0 or 1 bidder.
Technically 1 or less is not an auction – it’s a charade.

Volcanoes (4 or more bidders): Zero, not one. Clean slate.

Hammer rate: Could it get lower than last week? Yep, today we covered 33 auctions and only 4 sold under the hammer. That’s right 4. We may be the auction capital of the world, but Antarctica has a hotter “under the hammer” rate.



Nick Johstone - 134 South Road, Brighton, $2,190,000, 2 bidders

Nick Johnstone – 134 South Road, Brighton, $2,190,000, 2 bidders. Bought After.

ELWOOD, 62 Goldsmith Street. Sam Gamon (Chisholm & Gamon), Under the Hammer, $3,175,000

SOUTH MELBOURNE, 165 Nelson Street, Oliver Bruce (Marshall White), Under the Hammer, $3,300,000

BRIGHTON EAST, 134 South Road, Nick Johnstone (Nick Johnstone), Under the Hammer, $2,190,000

MIDDLE PARK, 161 Neville Street, Nicholas Hoo (Marshall White), After Auction, $1,990,000

BRIGHTON, 137 North Road, John Clarkson (Buxton), After Auction, undisclosed

ELSTERNWICK, 41 Shoobra Road, Bill Stavrakis (Biggin & Scott), After Auction, undisclosed

SOUTH MELBOURNE, 46 Howe Crescent, Oliver Bruce (Marshall White), After Auction, undisclosed

SANDRINGHAM, 87 Bay Road, Scott Hamilton (Buxton), Bought Before, undisclosed

BRIGHTON, 10 Willansby Avenue. Passed in, 0 Bidders

BRIGHTON EAST, 19 Dunoon Court. Passed in, 0 Bidders

HAMPTON, 19 Gordon Street. Passed in, 0 Bidders

PORT MELBOURNE, 93 Pickles Street. Passed in, 0 Bidders

ST KILDA, 11 Charnwood Road. Passed in, 0 Bidders

See all 33 James Auction Reports


Hugh Hardy - 20 Glen Street Hawthorn, After Auction, undisclosed

Hugh Hardy with the super groovy Ada Taylor – 20 Glen Street, Hawthorn. Very quiet on Scotch Hill today.

CANTERBURY, 10 Chatham Road. Antony Woodley (Marshall White), After Auction, undisclosed

MONT ALBERT, 15 Victoria Crescent. Doug McLauchlan (Marshall White), After Auction, $2,750,000

HAWTHORN, 51 Chrystobel Crescent. Phil De Fegely (Bekdon Richards), After Auction, undisclosed

HAWTHORN, 20 Glen Street. Passed in, 1 Bidder

CAMBERWELL, 15 Lansell Crescent. Passed in, 1 Bidder

KEW, 15 Hartington Street. Passed in, 0 Bidders

GLEN IRIS, 7 Glenvale Road. Passed in, 1 Bidder

HAWTHORN, 76 Illawarra Road. Passed in, 1 Bidder

CANTERBURY, 2B Rubens Grove. Passed in, 0 Bidders

HAWTHORN, 64-66 Berkeley Street. Passed in, 0 Bidders

HAWTHORN, 54 Berkeley Street. Passed in, 2 Bidder

CAMBERWELL, 4 Elaroo Avenue. Passed in, 0 Bidders

See all 33 James Auction Reports


11 Harvey Street, Malvern - Passed in,  0 Bidders

Why did these guys come out? Go home, it’s too hot! 11 Harvey Street, Malvern – Passed in, 0 Bidders.

TOORAK, 25 Woodside Crescent. Andrew Hayne (Jellis Craig), Under the Hammer, $2,660,000

PRAHRAN, 41 Eastbourne Street. Tom McCarthy (Biggin & Scott), After Auction, undisclosed

SOUTH YARRA, 5 Gordon Grove. Passed in, 1 Bidder

MALVERN, 18 Staniland Avenue. Passed in, 0 Bidders

ARMADALE, 34 Barkly Avenue, Passed in, 1 bidder

PRAHRAN, 16A Chomley Street. Passed in, 0 Bidders

MALVERN, 11 Harvey Street. Passed in, 0 Bidders

MALVERN, 20 Park Street. Passed in, 0 Bidders

See all 33 James Auction Reports

mar23See you then for the final week of the Opening Market 100 Auction test.

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