oc | Tuesday 31st March

Ducks & Bought Befores & Spring Strategies

Since the federal election, the Inner Melbourne market has begun a new upward phase and today’s completion of the 3-week 100 Auction test supports this. 62 Wattle Valley Road, Canterbury – $3,940,000, James Tostevin, 3 Bidders.

Spring Summary

There is little confusion with the Inner Melbourne Spring market direction right now.

The reasons for this sudden, powerful and upward market directional change could be something temporary like an election afterglow, the Early Spring Pep or something more concrete like stock levels or the banks are lending again and the Asian market has returned. Whatever the reason(s), the Inner Melbourne market strength is, for now, back in the lower to middle ranges ($1m to $5m). Price is clearly on the rise again, in line with the longer-term fundamentals of demand (population, wealth and desirability increases) and supply (less land in good infrastructure areas).

Today in our Bumper Footy Edition we go through key Spring Buying Strategies

When we are hired to secure a home, one of the key ingredients is to give a client time to think about what the home will really go for – so there are no shocks on the day.

Six months ago it was almost exclusively how low – now it’s a lot more tricky – some are still how low and others like 7 Howitt are how high.

Today we covered 40 Auctions to complete the Spring 100 Auction test. The stats are crystal clear and unequivocally confirm the trend change.

Overall bidder numbers have returned to 2017 levels

Price is moving strongly for A-graders.

Ducks v Bought Befores

For all those who thought we were back to a straight forward auction market. Think again!

One powerful stat that demands your attention be you a buyer or a seller is:

Almost half the auctions today were not actually auctions.

You need strategies that work, be you a buyer or a seller.

On almost 50% of auctions NOBODY put their hand up for you to get price vindication.

This week, two large selling contracts were awarded in Bayside (by our clients) to top-end agents Alex Schiavo of Kay & Burton and Kate Strickland of Marshall White after they had been through the James Buy Sell Agent Selection process – congratulations Alex and Kate.

One process involved 3 agents being interviewed twice.

We currently have eight high-end homes for managed sales processes under various methods and agencies, between Boroondara and Bayside. Outside these current selling management jobs, our records show we have completed 33 from our last 33 through some of the most difficult selling times since the GFC.

Top 4 critical skills we look for in the selling agent selection process

  • Agent themselves and their record with buyers, not just their ability to present to you the seller
  • Price Estimation
  • The sub-market(s) targeted and how to present the home to match the targets
  • Negotiation strategies suggested

Top 4 most overrated issues in the selling agent selection process

  • Commissions, unless they are too low
  • Incentives to agents – some work – a large amount don’t and all they do is reduce your end result
  • Internet and marketing (more on that later – you need the basics, but only some homes benefit from the full monty)
  • Brand name of the agency (geez will I get some angry phone calls on Monday)


Don’t agents hate your input, Mal? Only ones that don’t perform – we are bringing more work to the better agents at no extra cost to you the seller.

Aren’t all agents the same? Many sellers think that and I suppose those same sellers think all doctors, jockeys and financial advisors are the same also.

So what do you actually do, Mal? Run a process that reduces mistakes on values, on timing, on markets and maximises offers, prices and agent motivation.

When should you involve James Buy Sell?

Last word(s)

No one person knows price every time – no one person has all the answers (we don’t) and no agent works well when you are criticising, blaming and generally demotivating him or her to the detriment of your campaign. James Buy Sell manages this.

Selling well is all about preparation. I cannot remember a new strategy or direction being suggested by an agent, after an agent has been selected, can you? Meaning the work you do before you select your agent, can have the largest affect on your outcome and gives you the greatest insight into how to deal with your all-important first serious offer(s).

James Paynter RT Edgar. 1 Chavasse Street, Brighton. $2,540,000, 5 Bidders.

Brighton, 1 Chavasse Street. James Paynter (Rt Edgar) Under the Hammer $2,540,000, 5 Bidders

South Yarra, 7 Howitt Street. John Bongiorno (Marshall White) Under the hammer $3,600,000, 5 Bidders

Hawthorn East, 53 Havelock Road. Tim Derham (Abercromby’s Real Estate) Under the Hammer $2,970,000, 5 Bidders

Read all 40 reports here

7 Howitt Street, South Yarra – John Bongiorno. 5 Bidders, $3,600,000.

Toorak, 2/23 Washington Street. Marcus Chiminello (Marshall White) After auction $3,700,000, 1 Bidder

Malvern, 12 Robinson Street. Andrew McCann (Jellis Craig) Under the Hammer $3,570,000, 3 Bidders

Glen Iris (Stonnington), 46 Osborne Avenue. Charles Boyd (Jellis Craig) Under the hammer $2,130,000, 2 Bidders

Glen Iris (Stonnington), 18 Valley View Road. John Morrisby (Jellis Craig) After auction $ undisclosed, 2 Bidders

Malvern, 42 Dixon Street. Carla Fetter (Jellis Craig) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Prahran, 1 Chatsworth Road. James McCormack (Marshall White) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Toorak, 15 Mandeville Crescent. Mark Wridgway (RT Edgar) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Toorak, 4 Martin Court. Passed in $4,000,000, 0 Bidders

Malvern, 16 Bonview Road. Passed in $3,250,000, 0 Bidders

Armadale, 6 Tower Court. Passed in $2,600,000, 0 Bidders

Malvern East, 40 Tennyson Street. Passed in $2,200,000, 0 Bidders

Armadale, 19 Valentine Grove. Passed in $2,000,000, 0 Bidders

Armadale, 1/25 Mercer Road. Passed in $1,950,000, 0 Bidders

Read all 40 reports here

Tim Derham – 53 Havelock Road, Hawthorn East. 5 Bidders $2,970,000.

Canterbury, 62 Wattle Valley Road. James Tostevin (Marshall White) Under the Hammer $3,940,000, 3 Bidders

Camberwell, 11 Cochran Avenue. Andrew Gibbons (Marshall White) Under the Hammer $3,210,000, 3 Bidders

Kew, 10 Edgecombe Street. Scott Patterson (Kay & Burton) Under the Hammer $3,060,000, 3 Bidders

Hawthorn, 13 Kinkora Road. George Bushby (Jellis Craig) After auction $2,900,000, 3 Bidders

Hawthorn, 518 Glenferrie Road. James Tostevin (Marshall White) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Mont Albert, 11 Wolseley Close. Ross Stryker (Jellis Craig) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Canterbury, 3 Dryden Street. Scarlett Hang (Marshall White) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Glen Iris, 4 Greendale Road. Davide Lettieri (Marshall White) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Hawthorn, 18 Yarra Street. Sam Wilkinson (Kay & Burton) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Glen Iris, 9 Hillcrest Road. Passed in $3,800,000, 0 Bidders

Kew, 36 Yarravale Road. Passed in $3,700,000, 0 Bidders

Hawthorn East, 6B Condor Street. Passed in $1,700,000, 2 Bidders

Read all 40 reports here

Nick Johnstone, 27 Teddington Road, Hampton. $1,911,000, 3 Bidders.

Elsternwick, 14 Parnell Street. Bill Stavrakis (Biggin & Scott) Under the Hammer $3,175,000, 2 Bidders

Brighton East, 11 Ferguson Street. Stephen Smith (Marshall White) Under the Hammer $1,920,000, 2 Bidders

Elwood, 64 Addison Street. Sam Gamon (Chisolm & Gamon) Under the Hammer $2,000,000, 2 Bidders

Hampton, 27 Teddington Road. Nick Johnstone (Nick Johnston Real Estate) Under the Hammer $1,911,000, 3 Bidders

Brighton, 20 Budd Street. Stephen Smith (Marshall White) Under the Hammer $1,820,000, 2 Bidders

South Melbourne, 2 Little Boundary Street. Simon Graf (RT Edgar) Under the Hammer $1,611,000, 3 Bidders

Elsternwick, 7 Gisborne Street. Bill Stavrakis (Biggin & Scott) After auction $ undisclosed, 3 Bidders

Albert Park, 62 Page Street. Peter Kakos (The Agency) After auction $ undisclosed, 1 Bidder

Brighton, 490 New Street. Passed in $2,575,000, 1 Bidder

Brighton, 1 Champion Street. Passed in $2,200,000, 0 Bidders

Brighton, 38 Ebden Street. Passed in $2,400,000, 0 Bidders

Middle Park, 198 Page Street. Passed in $2,425,000, 1 Bidder

Read all 40 reports here

Another solid buying week at James Buy Sell.

Via off-market, a period family home mid $2m’s Kellie O’Nell, Jellis Craig.

Via EOI, renovated period townhouse low $2m’s Desiree Wakim and Hamish Tostevin, Marshall White.

At auction, family home 7 Howitt Street, South Yarra (Madeline Kennedy, Nicholas Brooks, Marshall White) for mid $3m’s – picture above and rating below.

Pssst, want to know a secret? We buy as many homes as we do because our clients pay more than the next guy/gal! OMG Shock Horror!

I say this because in our dealings with some selling agents and with buyers who don’t use buy-sell agents they seem to think it’s only about the price.

Of course, price is important, very important. It is, in fact, one of the key characteristics of a home’s PPP’s (Price, Property, Position) that affect growth and happiness – but it’s not the only one.

On the three homes we bought this week, price was not the key reason we were engaged as buy-sell agents. Securing the home was the key reason.

Expressions of Interest – Hawthorn 

Let’s be upfront – Expressions of Interest are almost exclusively designed by selling agents with the sole purpose to confuse buyers – to make the buying process as clear as mud, to avoid as much transparency as a selling agent can when dealing with a buyer.

Oh, that is rubbish, Mal!

Really? If the selling agent wanted buyer transparency they would have opted for a price stated private sale or an auction.

EOI’s are the most common type of buying job we get called for at the last minute. It happens when a buyer realises they are knee-deep in quicksand, against an agent they feel is holding all the cards.

Our Hawthorn buy was no different. We were engaged when the buyers felt under immense pressure and we quickly applied two key negotiation strategies to achieve what our clients wanted. Neither of these strategies was focussed exclusively on price – the price was, of course, bloody important, but not the main reason we were engaged; navigating the process and securing were key.

Off-market – Armadale

Off markets are a blessing and a curse. Why? Well, there is so much BS with the Off-market market. There are so many dead-end rabbit holes to run down in your search for what is truly a for sale Off-market, versus what is just an agent fishing or a seller in need of a free valuation and so on. We always follow the 4 duck rule for Off-markets (access, authority, asking price and contracts) – if they don’t have them or won’t get them quickly then it’s BS – it’s not a real Off-market sale.

Our Armadale buy was real – Kellie O’Neill is a good agent, whom we have dealt with before. Buying this brilliantly located period family home was all about speed and securing it over another buyer. We saw it on Saturday and bought it on Monday, having been in a bidding war, got pest and building inspections done, contracts checked, council check, pricing and growth report and … negotiation strategy. Our negotiation strategy was initially to find a great ; then to secure first and at an acceptable price second – our client was successful.

Volcanic Auction – South Yarra

When we went through this home we knew at once it was what our client was looking for, trouble was we also knew it would be what everybody else was looking for also. We applied three specific strategies to secure this home and the one we are comfortable to talk about here is values and pricing.

When you are hired to secure a home, one of the key ingredients is to give a client time to think about what it will really go for – so there are no shocks on the day.

Six months ago it was almost exclusively how low – now it’s a lot more tricky – some are still how low and others like 7 Howitt are how high.

7 Howitt – see our rating here.

Madeline Kennedy is a highly skilled agent – one of the best on these types of homes. She just knows how to attract a crowd and then work them into a frenzy and she does it without seemingly a cross word – she is a genius on a home with these characteristics and with this number of bidders. Part of one of our negotiation strategies was to attempt to neutralise her networking skills about who was interested – we reckon we got away with a draw, but you could make a case to say maybe we didn’t.

Anyway, back to values. The quote was $2,750,000 to $2,950,000, a smart quote and seemingly perfectly legal. Historical comparables easily justified that number and it was on the market at the top of the agent’s quote. Our first pricing to our client in the early days of the campaign was $3,100,000 to $3,400,000 – however, by our pre-auction meeting in the last week, we had amended our pricing estimate to $3,500,000 to $3,750,000 based on research and what has been happening in the rapidly shifting market of the past fortnight.  Our top estimate was $1,000,000 above the bottom part of the agent’s estimate and to be frank, most of our conversation at our pre-auction meeting was about what is the stop figure, is this something worth buying at the price we think it will go for, do you really want it?

At auction our client’s answer was an unequivocal ‘yes, we want it’ and 5 bidders later (and maybe 5 who didn’t bid as it was too quick and too strong) the brilliant home was our client’s at $3,600,000 and what a home it is.

Yes, it’s about money but in the three cases above, it was not all about money.

Two examples this week in our travels of potential underquoting – both were due to the agent mistakenly believing that a legal agent quote is only about attracting buyers or is only about comparable sales data and it doesn’t matter what the seller has said they wanted. We feel that is incorrect.

Opinion – The Quiet Australians

Is the young Quiet Australian Homebuyer getting a fair go?  I don’t think so.

This is my opinion and I respect your right to hold a different view.

We need a vibrant economy and I believe in a capitalist society as, in part, the answer to our society’s future.

Give me the horse called self-interest with some wise, firm and minimalist overseeing of regulations and I’ll back it every time. However, that horse is not being allowed to run for the young Quiet Australian Homebuyer.

The tax system, the overseas home buying plan and the “it’s about me culture” feels like it is (and will continue to) slowly tear our society apart – not in a revolutionary, blood in the streets way like Hong Kong or Syria – but in a manner similar to the death by a thousand cuts, as in America; once a place many of us would have aspired to.

Culturally, some of us oldies don’t seem to really understand inter-generational living and its benefits to young and old alike. Some Anglo-Aussies seem to have a me-only culture, an upbringing of every man (woman) for him or herself in isolation – and both young and old are suffering from this ethos.

But please, I am not angry or ashamed – in my mind, I feel I am not ranting. I feel I am enquiring not demanding, hopefully, I am coming across like this.

In 2019:

Australia is no longer a place where the majority of young people will end up owning a dream home with a few kids and all is good in the world  – well, not unless they are prepared to live in Woop Woop where housing is affordable. Trouble is, there are precious few jobs and almost no infrastructure there and Woop Woop is a long way away from where us the wealthy grandparents live.

So if our young (20-35) want to remain near their childhood homes as many of us did, then due to massive house , they are being forced into tenancy situations because they are being outbid by foreign nationals and investors alike.

Interest rates and young Aussies getting second jobs are irrelevant when almost carte blanche foreign ownership and a falling Aussie dollar combine to smash the local young home buyer at auction. And please don’t quote population and immigration falls – don’t confuse us with the different visa stats. Local young people ARE being outbid by foreign nationals.


A young person has no chance at beating you or me at auction when due to the tax system, we can buy a $1,000,000 home for $10,000 a year and the young person has to pay $70,000 per year AND we earn a lot more than young . Our investment decision will always beat their family home at auction decision this and every Saturday. And please don’t quote me the benefits of building a rental base. Yes, you are building a rental base, but it’s at the expense of aspirational young people owning their home.


And then the home you or I in, or the home an overseas citizen will buy will be rented out to the young family we all beat at auction AND that will give us income, so we can beat another young person at auction next time. Then next year, we will put the rents up, giving us even greater power against our young and if they don’t like it, then these quiet Australians can be evicted because of our weak tenancy laws. That’s the law of compounding growth meeting the almost non-existent law of tenancy. The young person loses every time if they can’t own.

Who says negative gearing is bad – not me, I love it? I’m a negative gearer from way back, as are many of my clients and friends (mainly buying for their ). Whenever I can pay less tax (fairly), then I love to do that.

It’s not that negative gearing is bad, it’s just back to that self-interest horse race – the young are not allowed to enter it, they do not have the same tax advantages as we do as investors and there are only so many homes to go around in Melbourne.

Or put another way if negative gearing is so great, then give the same tax advantages to the youngmake it a level playing field.

If wealth is so wonderful (and I think it is), then give the young a chance to obtain it – by allowing super and other things into a home deposit – or by giving young first go on homes ahead of investors and foreign nationals.

Now we may have seen some disaster young person homebuying programs, perhaps in New Zealand – but hey, at least they are still trying and yes we are too, with the home deposits scheme – and I may be wrong, but I don’t think it’s addressing all the issues – tax advantages, dollar exchange advantages and so on.

Let’s not attack each other, let’s even risk making some mistakes and let’s get going in this massive issue now.

Let’s get our Young Quiet Australians top of mind and yes, perhaps for a while dare I say it, even above us (old, infirmed and already rich, even when we think we are not).

Homes are a financial asset. Is it fair that increasingly only the older and the foreign have the chance to own these assets?

Young Australians are not a pressure group, a charity or a welfare issue – they are us!

Off markets are a major part of what we do on the buying and selling side. Last week we bought a little ripper investment family home from Peter Vigano circa $2.5m and this week we bought another very similar investment family home from Kellie O’Neill also circa $2.5m. Off markets are real if you know how to find them and how to buy them. You perhaps could consider buy-sell agents.

Why not get the magazine?


Subscribe to our Market News Newsletter

Tags: , , , , ,

Be with James

Would you like to talk to us about finding or negotiating on your next home?
We buy 100 homes for our clients every year.
We buy Inner East and Bayside over $2m.
View more MasterClass Articles

Inside James Market News