oc | Monday 30th March

Life is good

Big crowds turn out in the wet to see a great home at 4 Bramley Kew - see our QRate. These two old guys (Mal and Hamish Tostevin) had to take their shoes off like everybody else - trouble is they had to put them back on and Desiree Wakim snapped this pic how they both chose to use an open for inspection board. Yoga anyone!

Big crowds turn out in the wet to see a great home at 4 Bramley, Kew – see our QRate. These two old guys (Mal and Hamish Tostevin) had to take their shoes off like everybody else – trouble is they also had to put them back on and Desiree Wakim snapped this pic of how both chose to use an open for inspection board. Yoga anyone!



Mal James here. I wrote this piece as I wanted to. I have written about how I feel in this market and I’m not asking you to feel the same way.

So it’s ok to switch off now rather than wade through my mud, but there are some sprinkles of gold in here by the way!

Life is good

I love what is happening in the market right now. In fact, this is the most enjoyable and meaningful time I have experienced in the real estate market for the last 20 years as it allows time to consider, to get to know people and most of all, it allows me more quality time away with my family – some of whom need me, as Dad transitions to a nursing home and Mum, who lives next door is learning to cope – some who want to be with me (whilst I pay) – just came back from a trip to Morocco with Maddie my youngest – brilliant!

The market won’t last like this forever and neither will my family, so I’m enjoying it all while I can.

Still working though, we cut five deals for clients in March and we are knee deep in four right now, with two completed in April (thank you Gina). So working yes, just not at the pace of 2016 due to market forces however, I’m not wasting my time worrying either!  I have found the best negotiations have clarity, strategy, bold actions and are fresh, purposeful and timely, with a bit of humour and humanity. I have not found working effectively in negotiations for clients, to be about 24/7 on-call exhaustion, locked in your office cubicle/computer, looking at YTD spreadsheets and getting stressed.

So you know this current market, the one that has been reported to be falling more significantly in price than the GFC (true), the one which is at a lower ebb in terms of turnover than Paul Keating’s 1996 (feels like it) and the one with poorer future prospects than a disendorsed politician who has a social media account (false)? Well, I love it!

Before I go onto exaggerate my coodabeen New York Times best seller, seminal, celebrity quoted article on where we find ourselves and our markets in May 2019; before you see my Great Home Reveal and before we learn what Australia Decides, I just want to say that I love my job and I find the Melbourne market incredibly interesting. I feel that we live in the best place in the world – now is no different from 2 years, from 20 years ago.

I don’t feel anything really negative about where we are now and where we’re going – it’s just part of the cycle of money, a cycle of life.

If you are unclear on how cycles work then I repeat my recommendation for the Ray Dalio video (click here) It’s a ripper!

Gina out and about at 41 Vincent St Glen Iris with Daniel Wheeler and I'm not sure if he's laughing at Gina's joke or our new corporate jackets. Mmmm

Gina out and about today at 41 Vincent St, Glen Iris with Daniel Wheeler and I’m not sure if he’s laughing at a joke or our new corporate jackets.

Bankers, Agents, Sellers and Buyers in May 2019.


Dealing with Banks right now.


Unless you have a really genuinely good relationship with a banker (and they are rare).

Instead get a mortgage broker, an accountant or financial advisor with some financial clout.

I’m with the CBA and it has just taken 6 months to tell me that they are willing to lend me $750,000 to buy another property. Now if I wanted to buy what $750,000 could afford (and I don’t like Outer Melbourne (Position) or most (Property Type) as an ) then I suppose I would see this loan offering as prudent banking.

However, I have to move to another outlet. I want to spend around $1.5m for an inner city home; well-priced, 3 beds, near a train and with limited need for a reno and good rental prospects. In other words, I want to buy what I recommend my children buy and what I recommend other children and investors buy (if you are lucky enough to be able to afford it).

The Big Bank Takeaways in May 2019.

The Banks are doing what they are told by the Prudential Authorities and they are scared sh….less after the Royal Commission. Almost everybody is being treated like a ………(whatever I can say that is politically correct these days). I don’t say this because I disagree with their prudence – I don’t, as their prudence is having the desired effect of reducing house prices.

I say this;

  1. To reassure you that you are not special when the banks reject you – they are doing it to many buyers and the credit guys and girls are performing their services similar to an officer at border control when your passport doesn’t show that fake beard you are wearing.
  2. To advise you that the banks are taking a terminal amount of time (meaning you miss the home) if you need bridging finance or you haven’t got all your ducks lined up prior to the campaign.
  3. To show that what a banker said to you last year doesn’t count this year (I’ve gone from a $1.3m investment loan to a $750k investment loan, and yes, my income has dropped in this market, but my overall LVR’s are sub 50%, I’ve even paid off an extra $60k off loans in the last year and never missed a payment).

Are you buying Mal? Yes, I am if I could – not scared if the right home comes up.

So yes, I see in this market to try and buy another , especially before any proposed tax changes have a chance to hit us in January 2020.


Speaking of negative gearing. I support the Labour policy of trying to provide a more level playing field for younger homebuyers against Mum and Dad investors such as myself. I support it not because I’m a traditional Labour voter, nor do I absolutely know it’s the right thing to do (I just think it may be) – I personally support it because at least there is a political party out there laying down concrete policies designed to assist younger people buying into homes ahead of us oldies lining our pockets with another rental investment. Sorry if that loses me some business. Not asking you to do the same – just making a comment on the young.

Is that a supermodel? My mistake its Randall Smith QRating 45 Campbell Road Deepdene in the livery.  Mmmmm spunky!

Is that a supermodel? My mistake it’s Randall Smith QRating 45 Campbell Road, Deepdene in the new livery. Mmmmm sharp as!


You’ll be seeing less of some (the leavers) and more of others (the survivors) in this market. We all, myself included, are feeling the pinch. This market is tougher and longer than the GFC and in fact, most of us didn’t miss a beat in the GFC.

As I said last month we bought 5 homes (better than nothing and about 50% off our March peak), so I took that strategic holiday – I would be happy to print all the market deals that were done Easter to Anzac Day whilst I was away if I could find any. Agents who have not experienced such times before would be under stress, especially the younger ones and the not so good older ones.

To the younger agents, I encourage you to think as farmers do and understand we are in a drought, but yours is an incredible business and this is what you will have to put up with, in order to gain longevity in our industry. Take this time to hone your skills – your marketing and ethical ones. The big downer for now is, it’s also a chance to hone your unethical skills, to watch what some of the older, poorer agents do, to cut corners and to take the bacon at the expense of the pig. I have only one word for you – DON’T.

These are markets where reputations are forged and good businesses built (think of the 1990s and today’s strong businesses that came out of that period). If you damage your reputation for a quick buck, then it’s so hard to recover (think behind the scene hits by footballers in last few years) and you will lose way more money in the longer term than you trouser in the short term.


Let’s talk through the whole selling process – but before I start, can I ask why would you sell unless you had to or you were trading up!

As selling advocates, we are currently involved in 3 completed and 4 uncompleted selling management deals. We have had 5 serious interviews from potential buy/sell clients in recent weeks and of course, have also seen selling from the buying point of view.

So that’s close to 20 live deals as of now.

This is what I am seeing from a selling point of view.

1. Get the right agent – the one that can get the job done – many can’t because many can’t talk to you, as you need to be spoken to if you want to sell. There are some brilliant ones, we know as we work with them (seller advocacy) and not so much with them (buyer advocacy). We assist/manage/verify the selling agents’ role for many of our buying/selling clients – that’s a plug.

2. Prices have dropped in 2019, even on A-graders but a lot more on B and C-graders. Of course, there are a few claimed exceptions, but not really, it’s just those few “exceptions” are well marketed “stories” by skilled agents. You can make a case to say that every home in every market would get less if you went to market now as contrasted with 2017/2018.

3. On-market, we are seeing publicly listed homes selling at a 50% rate through auction and EOI’s. Two major points from this – 50% of homes are not selling – why? But good news 50% of homes are selling – why?

The REASONS for sell and not sell are so consistent, so clear and so solid. There is no mystery in this market about why some homes are selling and some are not.

Its Acronym is AQUA and if you get the AQUA wrong in this market, then you are in deep water without a paddle.

4. Off Market – fewer homes are selling off-market despite the twaddle that commentators (occasionally guilty as changed) tend to peddle at these times.  Off-market suffers from the AQUA anomalies at a higher rate, because there is an additional layer of concern added for a buyer (lack of transparency and/or lack of vindication). Off-market has its value – and we have bought them recently, so for the few that sell, great, waiting for the right buyer was the correct thing to do. However, for the other off-markets that don’t, it’s only positive is a case of minimal collateral damage (no damning internet future footprint) for a seller to find out what his or her home is not worth.

5. Why? Why are you selling? Here are $500,000 reasons to think about when selling. It’s a tax-free $500,000. Now as I said above, I saved $60,000 this last year so I need to earn $100,000 a year for eight and a bit years, pay tax and save the rest and not go on more holidays, to make the same as that $500,000 decision.  And this example of a $500,000 decision applies to a $2.5 million deal –  if it was a $5,000,000 deal it would be seventeen years of earning and saving to equal the dollars of the decision being made.

A potential client has a developable but livable home in , on a big slope, on bigger that he wants to sell, to buy an already completed family home in the same area. That could be a $500,000 difference to his long term wealth, rather than if he wanted to sell his completed home and buy a big sloping block of land in Boroondara.

A potential client has a big home in that he wants to trade out of and into a smaller apartment. That is a $1,000,000 difference to the other way around or if it was being done in 2017, as opposed to now or possibly 2023?

59 Orlando Street Hampton today. Kathy where did you get that new jacket from its so sheik or is that chic" Jen Dwyer

59 Orlando Street, Hampton today. Kathy where did you get that new jacket from its so sheik or is that chic” Jen Dwyer.

And finally to Buying

Short and sweet.

BUYERS – What are you waiting for?

  • Aaaaah the banks – keep trying – remember your old teacher adage at exam time… Yes, it’s hard for you, but it’s also hard for everybody else. Don’t give up.
  • Aaaaah you have to sell and you’ve become so worried about the sale price, bridging etc. Worry about the quality of your buy and then tailor the rest to fit that. Make $1 million on a good buy and drop $200,000 on a poorer sell, still stacks up on my excel spreadsheet.
  • Aaaaah nobody else is buying and you are waiting to see how low the market will go. Am I allowed to say that you are a sheep or a moron or is that poor form? If you can find the right home, then buy it and if you can’t then don’t – rent or stay put……. Unless of course, you have the magic to tell your children to stop growing, to say to life – stop moving ahead.

Phew, I haven’t written in Market News for a month, and why?  Well, there was nothing to crap on about –  and besides – there is more to life, more than property prices.

But I do love it!

A bit more fun – I love these two videos

Check out Andrew Moore from Noel Jones Mitcham – How to WELL for BUYERS – Andrew is so on the money, well done Andrew, are you sure you are a selling agent – you make so much sense!!

Andrew Moore

Click the photo to watch Andrew Moore

Check out Tyler Whitman from TripleMint in New York – SELLERS I love this guy – Tyler is so, so spot on. Do you think I could do a video like that? No Mal, no way, you don’t have the talent!

Click the photo to watch Tyler Whitman



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