oc | Thursday 2nd April


Yes, it was a Super Saturday but we think the best way to describe it was….. Suspicious Saturday.


Individual result volatility remains very high.

It’s the biggest strategy issue right now for both buyer and seller.

What do you mean Mal?

The market simply can’t consume the full amount of stock available right now, especially when buyers can also see what is coming on after the November holiday.

Thus we have increasing individual result volatility; meaning the unexpected is happening on more individual results, as bidders spread over a wider range of homes.

Buyers have choices.

Despite an increase in Volcanoes (4+ Bidders) Bidderman, that is, bidders per auction, has significantly decreased to the point where it is now in the low 1’s. That is Bidderman, is at its lowest number since the Federal election. This is important because Bidderman over a wide sample at set times each year (eg our 4 times a year x 3 week 100 Auction tests) is the most accurate pointer we have, to future markets.

As well, Clearance Rates have eased from low 70’s to low 60’s – again a measurement normally showing a market weakening if this trend continues.

So the market may be appearing to wobble…….and it is under the weight of homes on offer……but we feel the direction is not changing……..the market feels like it is still rebuilding – even if the stats say different.

What’s happening is normal for this time of the year………it happens almost every year!

For the overall market, what is happening is highly predictable, as the two most volatile months in Melbourne are traditionally May and October.

Why? – increased stock is why – and there is plenty right now!

So almost every year we have the May and October market enigma – a high degree of unpredictable individual result volatility, but overall very predictable market volatility.

Right now we still feel there is an energy in this market – an energy that was not there at Easter.

We can still feel an improving strength on PPP quality homes (A-graders) and that tells us the market is still trending up (although maybe sideways right now).

So has the Inner Melbourne market passed this big pre-Christmas test?

Not convincingly by any current measurement, but nonetheless right now we feel it has scraped a pass mark.

Market falls and rises are just like capital growth, they are not linear.

They are more like staircases and right now the predictable October volatility has put us on a price tread, rather than the price step we were on, from May to September.

One incredible phenomenon continues to be the Buy/Sell Before the Auction  – a colossal 25%.

That’s right; 1 in 4 auctions that we covered (sample of 40) pre-sold!


Volatility is why. When a good selling agent can’t identify a buyer or feels one buyer is an absolute standout, then we are seeing the sell before auction strategy come into play.


Auctions can actually hurt sellers when there is “transparency of fail” and that “transparency of fail” scares off your best buyer because they cannot see vindication from others, for their property and price thoughts.

Look at the Big Ducks below, for many, the auction “transparency of fail” for them may have been damning.

Sell before is a real sign of market volatility and it’s also a real sign of agent professionalism, as they work harder for a good seller result rather than being on autopilot till auction.

We don’t think we have ever seen these levels of “bought befores” and our only rider on any market commentary about market weakness or not, is that excellent agent work across the board may be disguising an underlying softening in the market,

If you removed bought befores from our stats this weekend, then the clearance rate becomes 50% and that is a stat of a falling market.

All roads lead to continuing volatility till Christmas.

If you have a pass-in and your selling agent has not pre-warned you or had a hard talk with you well before the auction, or attempted to sell before the auction, then there is every chance your big duck arrived on Auction day because your agent was gobble-gobble, a turkey asleep at the wheel.

P.S. – There was an $8,000,000-plus auction today with Scott Patterson and it sold under the hammer. A truly rare price monkey and a courageous organ grinder. However, it was Scotch Hill Royalty – Kooyongkoot Road No 25.

Mark Earle, 7 Kirkwood Avenue, Sandringham – 5 Bidders. What is really starting to worry Gina, Sim and myself  is that we found ourselves laughing at Mark’s jokes during and post-auction.

Only 3 Volcanoes from 40 Auctions today

Mmmm, plenty of choice – when the going got tough, bidders got going (meaning they left).

Canterbury, 66 Alexandra Avenue. James Tostevin (Marshall White) Under the hammer $3,951,000 4 Bidders

Canterbury, 5 Milton Street. Hamish Tostevin (Marshall White) Under the hammer $3,850,000 4 Bidders

Sandringham, 7 Kirkwood Avenue. Mark Earle (Buxton) Under the hammer $2,620,000 5 Bidders

And unlike us at James these past two weeks, we bought 7 Kirkwood at auction and against the most bidders of all the 40 auctions that we covered today.

By the way, I really wasn’t sure about this home on first glance and I told the clients that, but they reminded me how unimportant my opinion was and said buy it. I must admit, on the 2nd and 3rd visit it really grew on me – and I accept my first impressions were off the mark – despite the floor plan shortcomings this home is a feel-good ripper and 5 bidders proved to me, my first impressions are not infallible. Thank you for the lesson S&D.

Read all 41 auction reports here

12 from 40 or 30% had no auction interest whatsoever.

Was it the

  • home’s PPP’s (Price, Property or Positional land characteristics) or
  • the agent’s reputation or
  • was it simply that there were no buyers?

Let’s talk Agent’s Quoting Reputation

(Last time this year I promise).

What do you mean Mal?

Auction trainwrecks are in many cases like plane crashes – yes, you can have sheer bad luck – but generally, an auction fail is not just one thing that goes wrong – it’s a series of things.

One part of that series that can go wrong, can be your agent selection and the quote.

If the agent you select to represent you, is what the real buyers in the market know to be a chronic underquoter, then in volatile markets such as this, you can really be harmed when you go to sell.

Please explain Mal!

As buyer agents, we know the chronic underquoters and when we see a price we know to “add-on” in some cases and that means we don’t even bother turning up at auction – especially when there is significant choice, as there is in the market right now. There was a classic this weekend – we didn’t waste our time and no surprise it passed in.

Quoting low is a proven (but illegal) strategy that really does work when the property sells.

However, quoting low is a proven (and still illegal) strategy that really harms the sellers when the property fails and passes-in.

Why does low quoting harm a seller at a pass-in?

Ego, logic, human nature is why?

What some sellers don’t seem to grasp is how does a buyer agent recommend an offer or how does a buyer without an agent make an offer $500,000 over the top end of the “low” quote, after a failed no bidder auction within the “low” quote.

They don’t.

Hence buyer lost!

Hence seller opportunity lost!

Sellers who pass-in low are collateral damage of the selling agents who get “record over reserve” prices on other deals.

Underquoters don’t sell every home – so overall not only buyers lose, but pass-in sellers lose and in fact our whole industry loses.

Many good properties sit on the market for months – stale – until eventually they are withdrawn (after serious marketing expenses are wasted) or the price is lowered well below what the active buyers would have paid on auction day (if they had of turned up).

And here’s the rub underquoting hurts you, even if you are a fair and decent seller!

Case Study:

You as a seller read of an incredible “over the reserve” result and you hire the agent based on that one incredible result – you didn’t bother to check that it actually was a normal result dressed up as an incredible result “over a low quote reserve”; nor did you see his/her other failed auction due to poor quoting, as you had the rose coloured dollar glasses on.

You’ve signed the authority with hope in your heart and what you don’t know is you also have a blindfold over your eyes.

Come the auction campaign you think you are quoting to the market well, but you haven’t factored in that the market is volatile and the limited buyers know your agent is a serial underquoter ……….they have dismissed your home (even if it was priced fairly and you would sell at that) – they have dismissed because they have choice. In tight stock markets, the buyers would still show up as they have no choice. However, we are not in a tight stock market in October.

Ok sure, if you have a really, really good PP (Position and Property) home, then in some cases the other P(Price) is glossed over and you have an incredible volcanic auction result with 4 bidders and $500,000 over “reserve”. Lucky you – but more than likely it would have still happened with an ethical quote!

However, if you have simply just a good PP (Position and Property) home, but your agent and quoting reputation has scared off your main buyer, then you may have a Big Duck or a pass-in…… with an ethical quoting agent you may have got that one extra buyer and a sale.

There is a solution

Choose an ethical quoting agent? Some of the best agents going around are actually ethical quoters – Marcus Chiminello, Andrew McCann, Scott Patterson to name three from three different companies. When they get a price wrong (and we all do at times) it’s because they can’t get every one right, not because they are serial underquoters.

Unless you feel you have a record-breaking home and you like to take risks in this market, then engage a selling agent who quotes ethically. If your home is a ripper you will still get a ripper price on an ethical quote AND/OR if your home is less than perfect, then an ethical AND experienced, competent selling agent, has a far greater chance or not scaring off your limited buyers and you will have an increased chance of a good result.

Think please sellers – an agent with a poor reputation for truth actually scares off some of your buyers / buyer agents, especially in this market when buyers have choice.

Quote em low watch em go only works for a while……..after a time we “nuff-nuff” buyers and buyer agents catch on and when we have choice, we avoid the homes with agents who subscribe to this flawed truth theory, as we don’t have the time (or inclination) BUT also those sellers don’t have ours or another buyer’s bidding either.

Please note: The story above does not apply to any one specific result. Nobody can get the price right every time (us included) but when you start seeing regular trends in prices over reserves, over pass-in figures with the same agents, then there will often be the dark side to consider…… the “unsolds” ……those decent sellers who are the collateral damage of unethical low price quoters.

You can reduce your chance of unnecessary harm as a seller, by being one who chooses an ethical price quoting (competent and experienced) selling agent.

In this market, by all means, start conservatively (within the law) and then adjust the quote (once or twice even) if needed, to reflect changing knowledge/pricing circumstances.

Price Quoting in this volatile market should also be volatile, it should be fluid not solid.

If somebody sees a typo in James markutnudes and rings us – we can change this site in 30 minutes.

An agent quote can be changed just as quickly (if the will is there) and it’s up to buyers to monitor those quote changes.

In this market, a set and forget low quoter could be an agent on auto-pilot or maybe one of those quoters we are talking about above.

Mmmmmmmm – 33 Deepdene Road Deepdene – 0 Bidders.

Toorak, 15 Evans Court. Passed in $6,400,000 0 Bidders

Toorak, 47 Bruce, Street. Passed in $5,000,000 0 Bidders

Malvern East, 8 Finch Street. Passed in $4,500,000 0 Bidders

Hawthorn, 8 Hawthorn Grove. Passed in $3,550,000 0 Bidders

Camberwell, 12 Beech Street. Passed in $3,200,000 0 Bidders

Brighton, 86 Halifax Street. Passed in $3,200,000 0 Bidders

St Kilda West, 9 Longmore Street. Passed in $3,000,000 0 Bidders

Deepdene, 33 Deepdene Road. Passed in $2,900,000 0 Bidders

Hawthorn East, 10 Nicholson Street. Passed in $2,800,000 0 Bidders

Toorak, 12a Martin Court. Passed in $2,600,000 0 Bidders

Malvern East, 6A Central Park Road. Passed in $1,800,000 0 Bidders

Brighton, 162 New Street. Passed in $4,800,000 0 Bidders

Read all 41 auction reports here

The Before phenomenon continues – a colossal 25%.

Today we had 5 auctions to buy – Campbell Ward, Stuart Evans, Duane Woloweic, John Chartres and Mark Earle. We bought 3 before (thank you E&A, L&A and M&D) including this absolute ripper at 7 Camden – 3 bidders @ $250,000 above the top end of the quote on a tight timetable on Wednesday. Great result for the seller, the selling agent (Stuart Evans) and the buyers.

P.S. With what we knew the quoting felt totally appropriate – it was buyer competition which pushed past a fair reserve. In fact, in all five above, we felt very comfortable that quoting was ethical, professional and even smart – it got our clients there, sort of happy to pay (smiley face) and happy afterwards. Win-win quoting was how we saw all 5 deals (bought 4, missed 1, next time P) 4 of the 5 had solid competition (3, 2, 2, 5 actual bidders).

Patience pays

This reference comment below (24/10/19) on 7 Camden was 2 and 1/2 years in the making and we bid only bid on two other homes during that time. Thank you M&D it was our pleasure.

Mal and Gina,  

We are very very happy indeed.
It was the absolute best decision we made to engage the both of you. We can’t speak highly enough about how much we have learnt from the wisdom of two experienced professionals who have helped us navigate through the process of buying a home.  And we enjoyed the process so much because we got to do it with two simply wonderful people who have incredible values.
You probably won’t need it but if you ever wanted another reference or testimonial we would be more than happy to.


Balwyn North, 15 Belle Vue Road. Campbell Ward (Jellis Craig) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Brighton, 3 Haileybury Street. Andrew Campbell (Marshall White) Bought before $ undisclosed

Brighton, 111 Carpenter Street. Alan McGillivray (Nick Johnston) Bought before $ undisclosed

Brighton East, 5 Lucas Street. Nick Johnstone (Nick Johnstone Real Estate) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Camberwell, 24 Morey Street. Duane Wolowiec (Marshall White) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Glen Iris, 11 Ferndale Road. Madeline Kennedy (Marshall White) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Hawthorn, 7 Camden Road. Bought before. Stuart Evans (Marshall White) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Kew, 3 Fenwick Street. Chris Barrett (Marshall White) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Malvern, 20 Hornsby Street. Abby Innes (RT Edgar) Bought before $ undisclosed

St Kilda West, 128 Park Street. Oliver Bruce (Marshall White) Bought before auction, $ undisclosed

Read all 41 auction reports here

3-5 Rimington Avenue, Kew, 2 Bidders………. It’s an unusual serving action Campbell Ward and Richard Winneke looks ready to return.

Albert Park, 57 Foote Street. Warwick Gardiner (Greg Hocking) Under the hammer $3,000,000 3 Bidders

Armadale, 10c Avondale Road. Justin Long (Marshall White) Under the hammer $2,635,000 2 Bidders

Armadale, 20 Elgin Avenue. John Chartres (Thomson) After auction $2,825,000 0 bidders

Brighton, 70 North Road. Passed in $2,850,000 1 Bidder

Brighton, 53 Comer Street. Jason Gill (Hodges) After auction $3,000,000 3 Bidders

Camberwell, 1 Kintore Street. Justin Long (Marshall White) After auction $ undisclosed, 2 Bidders

Canterbury, 1 Margaret Street. Passed in $2,935,000 2 Bidders

Elsternwick, 1 Long Street. Bill Stavrakis (Biggin & Scott) After auction $ undisclosed 1 Bidder

Hawthorn, 25 Kooyongkoot Road. Scott Patterson (Kay & Burton) Under the hammer $8,180,000 2 Bidders

Kew, 3-5 Rimington Avenue. Campbell Ward (Jellis Craig) Under the hammer $5,425,000 2 Bidders

Kew, 14 Belmont Avenue. Passed in $5,025,000 1 Bidder

Malvern, 90 Claremont Avenue. Andrew McCann (Jellis Craig) After auction $ undisclosed 2 Bidders

Malvern, 44 McKinley Avenue. Passed in $3,310,000 2 Bidders

Middle Park, 93 Armstrong Street. Simon Gowling (Greg Hocking) Under the hammer $4,900,000 3 Bidders

Sandringham, 31 Royal Avenue. Stephen Tickell (Hocking Stuart) Under the hammer $1,870,000 2 Bidders

Toorak, 16 Gordon Street. John Chartres (Thomson) Under the hammer $1,896,000 3 Bidders

Read all 41 auction reports here


Two weeks ago we featured an article on the apartment block @ 22 Powlett.  We described the auction, we outlined our values and we told of our client’s disappointment and our own disbelief that we were saying HEY, IT’S TIME TO STOP. The auction ran away to become a VOLCANO at $1 million over the reserve. Read the story here.

This week a fortnight later we are able to discuss in more detail our thoughts on 22 Powlett, as our client has now completed an off-market purchase of the apartment above (penthouse, identical floorplan, size and car park and better light) – granted an extra flight of stairs – but it is the penthouse and we all need the exercise hey!

The Lessons from the 22 Powlett Apartment Block

Buying / Lesson One – Capital Growth

It is possible to find older style blocks that have a history of good growth. Check out the growth in this BLOCK and then compare to your average High-Rise.

However, please never buy High Rise Off-the-Plan.

We have been saying this about High Rise Off-The-Plan apartments since 2003 (Our first published Marketnews was in the Business Review Weekly by Karin Derkley in 2003 and it was about don’t buy Off-The-Plans). In all our history, we have never, ever bought a High Rise Off the Plan and we have only bought 2 partially completed low rise Off the plans – the risks are massive for the buyer and the returns so poor for so many.

Older style, low rise and well-priced apartments can work for those that buy and hold long term. However, they need to be the right BLOCK. There’s an article coming on how to pick the right APARTMENT BLOCK – eg how to find growth.

Selling / Lesson Two – You don’t need a hammer and nail bag for values to go up.

Buy well, renovate minimally – this is the best formula for many – especially those like me who are “carpenterially” challenged.

Selling / Lesson Three – The Power of an Auction and the Power of a Volcano

As much as I bag auctions (now and again) there is no way anything other than an auction would have changed the price dynamic to this extent, in this block.

Buying / Lesson Four – In Apartment blocks Talk to Other Owners, Knock on Doors

One clear do, is when the going gets really tough, do get out of the heat and do find another apartment in the block (maybe quickly). Talk and Knock on Doors – we did! It took 8 days to knock on doors, get a contract drawn up on another apartment by a different seller and agree on a price. 8 days!

Buying / Lesson Five – It’s about the Light

With floorplans identical, the two best apartments were the top left two @ 22 (Richie Benaud) – due to the north light all the way along that side of the building.

Selling / Lesson Six – Good agents get good results

So Daniel Joyce, according to his reserve was looking at one sale at $1,600,000 two weeks ago. He now has two sales totalling $4,950,000. He tripled the opportunity and worked strongly for his clients – good agent.

Buying / Lesson Seven – Saying no as a buyer (agent) can sometimes reap rewards

Self-explanatory on Powlett – you can’t always do it, but sometimes stopping and regrouping is best. Our client banked “$350,000+” on buying a better apartment in the same block two weeks later, by having the guts to think clearly under pressure, park his ego and walk away from a frenzied auction – well done SP!


A solid managed sale result with our clients on the Peninsula mid-week. Thank you P&D.

Well done to Rob Curtain and his team from Sotheby’s – good price expectations, good campaign, good result.

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