Market again on hold but strong results prevail for good properties

The rollercoaster continues for the Melbourne property market.

Buyer demand remains strong and outweighs market supply.

Interest rates remain low, job security for the majority remains positive. Household saving amounts continue to build for some.

Clearance rates have been reported as high over recent weeks, with some big results selling well above the top of quoted range:

  • 14 Kanowna Street Hampton – modern two-storey home – $4.775m
  • 38 Manning Road Malvern East – $4.716m – two-storey home, undisclosed in the mid-to-high $4ms
  • 5 Kooyongkoot Road Hawthorn – basic home on 541sqm, undisclosed, in the high $3ms
  • 93 Sandringham Road Sandringham – renovated single-storey weatherboard, 563sqm – $2.93m
  • 25 Hume Street Armadale – Neil Clerehen designed home, undisclosed in the low $4ms
  • 28 Stanley Street Canterbury – land 753sqm, west rear, undisclosed in the low $4ms
  • 9 Dixon Street Malvern – modern two-storey home, a little dated, mid $4.5ms
  • 21 Alexandra Street South Yarra – undisclosed, almost $3m

As independent buyer advocates, we are constantly asked what is happening and what is about to happen.

Due to Government Lockdown Restrictions in Victoria, the only attendance currently allowed at properties are those (such as a final inspections) legally required to facilitate a move in or out of a sold or tenanted property.

This is in variance with other states, notably NSW where one-on-one inspections can take place. Many agents and industry bodies in Victoria are calling for this. We will have to wait and see what transpires on that front.

In the meantime, any potential properties coming up for sale can only be appraised and inspected virtually, assuming there is a vendor or tenant living in the property to facilitate a home walkthrough via Facetime, Zoom or a similar platform.

Other preparation required for a sale such as photography, copy and staging (unless in place prior to 5th August), is also on hold and cannot be undertaken during the lockdown.

Whilst this is no doubt terribly frustrating for some buyers and sellers (particularly those with a more pressing need to buy/sell), unlike other industries where transactions and sales may be lost, the property market goes into a form of ‘hibernation’ and when it re-opens picks up where it left off.

Vendors and buyers should be confident that this is the case, as we find it difficult to believe there are many buyers out there willing to transact hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars, to buy something sight unseen when there are so many things that can go wrong.

Many properties that were listed pre the recent lockdown and had a handful of inspections, have had an opportunity to sell either privately or via auction virtually (ie through Zoom or similar online portals) on or before the scheduled auction dates, if the agent and/or vendor felt there were good enough interest levels.

Those that have not yet sold are possibly because they have not had enough market exposure (ie limited inspections/limited interest) or unrealistic vendor expectation.

We are expecting more properties to come to market as Melbourne reopens, although it could take a week or so for advertising to take effect, given the lag time between opening and getting homes photographed and staged.

A number of properties may sell quickly and quietly during this time. Being ready and ‘buy fit’ will ensure you don’t miss an opportunity if the ideal property is available.

As to the future? It’s hard to predict, of course, however, we are hearing talk of:

  • shorter auction campaigns (possibly only a week or two, rather than three) and an increase in the number of open times within the shorter time frame. At this stage, it appears auctions will still the preferred choice of sale. The benefit for buyers is this process offers greater transparency and, for vendors, the buyer cannot cool off.
  • more off-market opportunities.
  • more private sales rather than auctions.

If we don’t open up for some time, will we see more virtual inspections offered and purchased without a physical inspection? We think this will be less likely to gain traction.

As one of the biggest purchases people make in their lives, this could be an extremely risky and expensive decision if you get it wrong. Consider:

  • How can the true sense of light and space be experienced?
  • Will overlooking windows from adjoining properties be shown?
  • What about senses of smell – how could you tell if dampness/mould was an issue?
  • Then of course there is also the gut feel or ‘feel’ factor, which most would acknowledge is critical in the purchasing process.

If you would like help to be in a winning position when Victoria reopens, let us show you our tried and tested purchase framework which makes sure you stay ahead of the market so you can buy your ideal property.

Winter selling. Why not?

It has been an uncommon mid-year/school holiday break.

Where the property market normally shuts down, it has continued throughout this winter break to allow for interrupted campaigns to conclude (as a result of our last lockdown).  In addition, we have also seen new listings popping up on the net daily, rather than waiting for holiday makers to return from their winter getaways.

Some trends have continued, others have picked up and we have seen some new ones emerging:

  • Generational and lifestyle homes are continuing to attract strong interest from multiple parties prepared to pay new record prices for the prize.
  • Single vendor one bedroom apartment blocks are becoming common on the real estate sales websites.
  • A good number of properties generally for sale (including family homes) on the real estate sites at the moment. It feels like far more than normal for this time of year and yet at one auction on the weekend, the auctioneer mentioned ‘there won’t be any choice for buyers until Spring (which isn’t too far away now), so buy now.’
  • We are also starting to see an increase in the number of two-bedroom units and apartments for sale (many of them ‘off market’), as more landlords are required to update properties to meet minimum rental standards, and many tenants are opting for larger properties to rent, as working from home becomes the new norm.
  • Very strong market demand for single level renovated period homes (ie 24 Kerferd Street Malvern East, 50 Wattle Valley Road Canterbury, which sold recently for very strong prices well in excess of $5m).

One trend, which may have been more understandable and forgivable earlier in the year before the market’s sudden rise, is the number of properties being advertised without any, or with irrelevant, comparable properties and what seems to be a low quote.

The number of homes sold over the past six months has been solid and we think (for most properties) there should be more than enough relevant sales to provide a reliable SOI. As an example, a small, three bedroom unit in Ormond quoted $800-880,000 sold very competitively for $1,156,000 last weekend – almost 45% above the bottom of the quote. There were five buyers of $1,000,000 and three over $1,100,000.

Interestingly, we don’t seem to have the same difficulty when preparing and providing our price analysis for clients.

All too often we hear ‘the vendor is a seller in the range’ which leaves us wondering whether they are receiving the right advice from their agents or underselling themselves.

There’s no excuse anymore. Buyers should expect to see more accurate quotes for the second half of the year. That said, they should always be prepared to do their own independent research.

We are also noticing a trend, post each lockdown, where frustration levels from both buyers and sellers are increasing, along with some ‘Covid fatigue’ which we think is affecting some decision-making processes.

So it’s all great for sellers? Well not really … where things can go wrong for vendors is if they overrate the home that they have within the current marketplace. The difference between an A grade property and a C grade one is considerable, and buyers are becoming more aware of this as they become more educated within the marketplace.

The costs for a mistake both emotionally and financially can be substantial, and life is too short (we think) to live in a dark, miserable home.

Finally, it will be interesting to see whether the extended lockdown in NSW, including the shut down of the real estate market, influences the decisions for overseas buyers wishing to return to Australia by diverting their focus to Melbourne and therefore adding to the buyer demand. And when the world does return back to some form of ‘normal’ life in the coming years, will the popularity of a safer island country go from strength to strength?

 

Some of the better properties on the market; an architect’s view

34 Stirling Street KewNicholas Franzmann/Nikki van Gulick, Marshall White

19 Pellew Street SandringhamLana Samuels/Marty Fox, Whitefox

                                                                                     

‘Off-market’ Properties:

  • Victorian family home, approx. 800sqm, Hawthorn – circa $5.5m
  • Family sized Californian Bungalow on good land, Camberwell – circa mid $4m
  • Extended semi-attached Art Deco, Prahran – circa $2m
  • Renovated Victorian home on over 900sqm, Hawthorn – circa $9m
  • 70s style home on approx. 540sqm, Camberwell – circa $3.25m
  • Updated single level Edwardian, Armadale – circa $4m
  • 1930s family home on good land, north rear, Armadale – circa mid $7m
  • Edwardian single storey home, approx. 350sqm, Hawthorn East – circa $2.2m
  • Single level Edwardian, approx. 560sqm, Malvern – circa mid $4m
  • Well renovated, 4 bed, Californian Bungalow, Malvern – circa mid $5m
  • Block of 12 one-bed apartments, approx. 705sqm, Armadale – circa $6m
  • Renovated double fronted Victorian, Windsor – circa $2.4m
  • Golden Mile Edwardian duplex, approx. 490sqm, Brighton – circa high $2m
  • Renovated Edwardian, approx. 900sqm, Brighton – circa $8m
  • Family home with good land, Hampton – circa mid $4m
  • Large modern family home, walk to amenities, Sandringham – circa $5m
  • 1920s with modern renovation/extension, over 900sqm, Aberfeldie – circa mid $4m
  • Fully renovated Victorian, over 600sqm, Essendon – circa mid $3m

 

Auction Spotlight:

Nick Johnstone working the crowd at the successful auction of 18 Champion Street Brighton

 

The single level home at 18 Champion Street Brighton has been renovated and is well oriented to maximise light.  The size of the secondary bedrooms may have held back families with growing children, so the home was possibly more suited to the downsizer market looking for a comfortable move in option, where the grandkids can still visit. The home was quoted $2.6-2.85m.  An opening bid of $2.8m started the auction with two bidders swiftly bringing offers up to $2.9m, where bidder one started to show some hesitancy. Without stopping proceedings, instructions were sought by an agent and the home was called on the market at $2.985m. While both buyers clearly wanted the keys, bidder two showed strength and confidence, outlasting the opposition and securing the property for only a small amount more.

Are things the same or are they different?

So much is the same, and yet many things are now different and could have an impact on the future direction of the property market:

  • Some banks have started to increase their fixed term interest rates.
  • Increases in stamp duty coming into effect (yet to be approved by the Victorian Parliament).
  • Increases in land tax coming into effect (yet to be approved by the Victorian Parliament).
  • Future building work costs are likely to increase due to a shortage of materials, skilled tradespeople and labourers.
  • Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act are now in place.

The second quarter results have been solid, with strong clearance rates consistently over 80%. There are some continued unexpectedly strong results: some compared to the quotes, which are often still based on 2020 comparable properties, and others where buyers have decided they’ve had enough and are prepared to spend more to get off the merry-go-round of inspections and auctions.

Current trends:

  • The finished product is still in high demand – stock levels remain low and many buyers don’t have the time, skill or inclination to tackle renovations.
  • Some homes are seeing fewer inspection numbers. Is this because there are fewer buyers, some quotes are more accurate or are some properties just not in demand?
  • Apartment blocks (one owner of the land and all the apartments) seem to be coming up for sale on a weekly basis at the moment; for example 37 Hope Street South Yarra (17 one-bedroom apartments) had been in the one family since 1986. Sitting on approx. 462sqm, it had flexibility for buyers as a new home site, boutique apartment or to update it as it is. Quoted $5.5-6m, it sold in excess of $6.6m at a mid-week auction.
  • Off market properties are increasing, particularly for homes that have been rented for a period of time and are needing work.
  • Many properties are selling before the scheduled auction date, although the majority of these are still competitive (often just bringing the auction date forward).
  • Some vendors have raised their expectations above current market prices.
  • Quotes are more confusing than ever for buyers – some are now very accurate and some are still absurdly low and buyers can be missing opportunities because they are relying on the quote too much to make decisions.
  • Many vendors have decided to hold off selling because they’re not sure what they can buy.
  • There are also a number of agents who have said they already having listings for Spring – if supply increases, this could further temper the current.
  • Some homes (usually the move-in nothing-to-do homes) are still attracting four, five or more bidders, while others are now seeing only one or two. As buyers for these homes thin, the clearance rate may start to drop as more homes have the potential to pass in if the reserves are not met.

What does all this mean for buyers still wanting to buy? We think it could create a little more uncertainty generally. Price increases are likely slow down and current levels will become the new normal. Methods of sale, away from auction, particularly for poorly presented homes, may increase.

When do we think these changes may become more noticeable? Probably after the mid-year holiday break. Most schools will have two or three weeks holiday across late June/July and historically agents have taken the opportunity to recharge before the Spring market returns.

Although, perhaps like Easter, there may not be a definitive break and auctions will continue across the holidays.

Highlights:

  • 9 Margarita Street Hampton – Jenny Dwyer/Steve Tickell (Belle Property) – renovated period home with pool, good street, approx. 770sqm, west rear, quoted $4.2-4.5m, sold for $5,050,000.
  • 11 Kingsley Street Camberwell – Campbell Ward/Cameron Edgoose (MarshallWhite) – single storey (comfortable but could be further improved) period home with pool, approx. 710sqm east rear, quoted $2.9-3.1m, sold for an undisclosed amount circa $4m.
  • 6 Gray Court Beaumaris – Campbell Cooney/Greg Ward (Hodges) – approx. 994sqm, south rear, large family home (circa 2000 in pretty original condition), quote $2.6-2.86m, sold for $3.36m.
  • 48 Kerferd Street Malvern East – John Morrisby/Sarah Sharp (JellisCraig) – approx. 682sqm, period home ready for next renovation/extension, quoted $2.6-2.86m, sold for an undisclosed amount over $3.8m.
  • 16 Cavendish Place Brighton – Chris Hassall/Todd Dixon (Buxton) – approx. 602sqm, solid brick, circa ’70/’80s home in original condition, ready for renovation or rebuild. Quoted $2.0-2.1m, sold for an undisclosed amount over $2.65m.

 

 

Some of the better properties scheduled for Auction the first weekend of June; an architect’s view

23 Gladstone Parade Elsternwick – Bill Stavrakis/Angelos Stefanis, Biggin & Scott

33 Dorrington Avenue Glen Iris – Hamish Tostevin/Justin Krongold, Marshall White

 

‘Off-market’ Properties:

  • Family home, weatherboard, approx. 690sqm, Beaumaris – circa $2.2m
  • Brick single fronter, 2-1-1, approx. 170sqm, East Melbourne – circa mid $2m
  • Two storey terrace, 3-2-1, busier road, East Melbourne – circa high $1m
  • Single level, 5-bed family home, ~960sqm, Brighton East – circa $4.4m
  • Edwardian family home, single level, pool, Malvern East – circa early $4m
  • Gascoigne Estate, Federation home, ~540sqm, Malvern East – circa mid $5m
  • Single level Victorian, approx. 930sqm, Toorak – circa mid $8m
  • Fully renovated family home w court & pool, ~1860sqm, Hawthorn – circa $14m
  • Corner land site, approx. 657sqm, Camberwell – circa mid $2m
  • Victorian single fronter, scope to improve, ~120sqm, Prahran – circa $1.3m
  • Period home needing major reno, Heritage overlay, Glen Iris – circa high $1m
  • Edwardian brick single fronter, approx. 306sqm, Caulfield North – circa $1.7m
  • Double fronted cottage, approx. 233sqm, Richmond – circa early $2m

 

Auction Spotlight:

Chris Hassall in action at the successful sale of 16 Cavendish Place Brighton

 

16 Cavendish Place Brighton attracted a large crowd, who were here perhaps not only for the coffee van, but also the opportunities on offer for this original, yet neatly presented, ’70/’80s solid brick home. The property is ready for an update or potential rebuild on the approximately 602sqm of east rear land. Commercial properties along the north boundary could have held back potential buyers, but the numbers on auction day seemed to show differently. Perhaps the flexibility of the office space or potential self-contained unit at the front of the home enticed a broader range of buyers. The property had been quoted $2.0-2.1m. With the crowd spread far and wide on both sides of the street, the opening offer of $2.5m surprised many and immediately put the property on the market. Four further bidders joined proceedings swiftly, before most stepped out again almost as quickly. The final two continued to push for the keys, with the home eventually selling for an undisclosed amount over $2.65m.

Traditional buying seasons blurred as market remains hot

It has been an interesting two weeks. For the first time since we can remember, we have attended auctions on the middle and last weekend of the ‘Easter’ holidays, as well as a number of new campaigns showing their first inspection at the start of the holidays, rather than the end.

For those who may be less familiar, the Melbourne market is usually broken into four quarters, defined by the school holidays. But this year that seems to have been put aside and, while auction numbers were lower than the last couple of weeks in March, they were considerably higher than we would normally expect. 

According to the REIV, this weekend had 907 auctions reported, with a clearance rate of 86%.  Compare this to the same weekend last year, with only 149 auctions held and you can clearly see the change in holiday activity.

With May this year featuring five Saturdays, the auction selling system for sellers is well catered for. At the end of this period, we should get a good understanding of where things are at. 

Selling a home can be expensive (advertising, staging, storing of furniture etc). In the past, agents and vendors have been reluctant to auction properties or commence new campaigns while much of their target market is on holidays. It appears that this year, the agents were either confident that no one was going away or there were enough buyers around that even if some were away there were enough remaining to create a competitive marketplace.

After attending some of the first opens and auctions (with inclement weather), we can confirm that this was correct. Many properties had large crowds and/or queues to inspect.

Buyer numbers are still increasing.  Two main reasons why (we think) are:

A number of local residents are coming to the realisation that even if they don’t want to work from home, it may be forced upon them. With a number of larger corporations restructuring or making plans to sub-let their floorspace, employees who were working from home in makeshift spaces (ie bedrooms, kitchen benches or tables etc.) are realising they are going to need a bigger/more functional home as the changes become permanent.

Expats coming back need somewhere to live. Australia is becoming increasingly desirable as other countries battle to get the virus under control. For those who have been living overseas, sometimes for 10 years or more, they are now returning to Australia, often with partners and/or extra children and often with deeper pockets.

Most property inspections we are attending feel more like a party line-up than a home inspection. The streets are lined with parked cars and there are queues (prior to the open time) of people waiting to get in the door.

Many buyers are making decisions out of fear and believe that buying something is better than buying nothing. Money is still ‘cheap’ and looks to remain that way for the foreseeable future. Unless history changes, however, rising markets (at some stage) come to an end and in the event things don’t turn out as planned, buying the wrong property now may cost more than waiting for the right one to come along in the future. 

 

Some of the better properties scheduled for Auction on 8 May; an architect’s view

48 Kerferd Street, Malvern East – John Morrisby/Sarah Sharp, Jellis Craig

1 Wolseley Grove, Brighton – Nick Renna/Andre O’Brien, Jellis Craig

 

‘Off-market’ Properties:

  • Townhouse, renovated, central South Yarra – circa $2.25m
  • Victorian family home on approx. 630sqm, Hawthorn – circa $3.5m
  • Large, renovated, Art Deco on good land, Elwood – mid $4m
  • Californian Bungalow on over 750sqm, north rear, Glen Iris – circa $2m
  • Contemporary home, approx. 1,200sqm, Hawthorn – circa $9.0m
  • Victorian home w. 2 studios at rear, pool, Balaclava – circa $2.4m
  • 2 bed Townhouse with north courtyard, Ripponlea – circa $1.2m
  • Family home in the Castlefield Estate, Hampton – circa mid $2m
  • Contemporary family home, pool, Hampton – circa $3m
  • Updated townhouse, 3-2-1, Windsor – circa $1.3m
  • Single level 3 bed home, prime Brighton East – circa $3.4m
  • Modern family home, tennis court & pool, ~1,300sqm, Surrey Hills – circa $5.3m
  • Development opportunity, Activity Centre, dual access, Highett – circa $1.65m
  • Double fronted Victorian on approx. 400sqm, Prahran – circa $2.85m
  • Californian Bungalow, heading work, over 950sqm, Hampton – circa $3m
  • Large family home, 3 levels, pool, Brighton East – circa $6m
  • Modern family home, very close to beach, Sandringham – circa $4.5m
  • Edwardian home on approx. 1,300sqm, tennis court & pool, Brighton – circa $12m

 

Auction Spotlight:

Matthew Pillios in full flight during the auction of 2 Killeen Avenue Brighton East

 

Immaculately renovated and presented, the single level home at 2 Killeen Avenue Brighton East was always going to be an attractive option for downsizers. Proximity to St Leonard’s College would also bring in smaller families. While Matthew Pillios from Marshall White had plenty of location benefits to talk about, the crowd was hesitant to start things off. After placing a vendor bid of $2.0m, it took some time for a bidder to offer $2.025m. More silence led to a lengthy ‘half-time’ break.  The vendors were clearly hoping for more (the home had been advertised at $1.95-2.1m), but no further bids were forthcoming.  The property was passed in, later selling for $2.265m. A good result for the seller we feel.

 

 

 

Melbourne property market: hot or not?

The Melbourne property market over recent weeks has been particularly strong. We believe one of the reasons is that there is still a great demand and urgency from property buyers to buy, for many reasons: fear of missing out, having a greater appreciation/need of living at home, greater savings and not having much to spend on…. the list goes on. There is a lot of talk out there about there not being enough supply. We feel that supply is not necessarily just the issue but also the high demand from buyers.

Some other key observations:

  • Bank loans are taking longer to process due to resourcing issues.
  • Many people that bought in regional/Peninsula areas are possibly starting to question that move. As employers demand more people return to the office in person, some people are finding the extra travel onerous.
  • While there will be a slight pause for Easter and school holidays, May is looking to be a particularly busy month (there are five Saturdays). With such a good steady run of selling opportunities, will this flush out a lot of the demand? By the end of May, we should know where the market is really standing.

All of the above is predicated on Melbourne not experiencing any significant future Covid-related interruptions.

As you might have read in the media, there have been some very strong results in the past few weeks.

Many homes have sold before auction, more often still with competition. There are some properties out there, however, that have struggled or failed to attract buyers.

As a general rule when out and about, many buyers have decided a good strategy is just add 10-20% to the quote and you’ll be about right.

That is one strategy, but what if the quote is accurate already? Do you add 20% and then make an offer? You could be the only buyer at this level and well above everyone else – or possibly on your own.

While the market is still positive, if vendors don’t get the quote right, or, more importantly, if their expectations are not in line with the market, then they may not see a positive result for their home. For example, here are some pass-ins from last weekend:

  • 16 Mountview Road Malvern – quoted $4.65-5.1m and passed in VB $4.65m
  • 24 Anderson Street Malvern East – quoted $3.8-4.1m and passed in for $4.055m
  • 22 Warley Road Malvern East – quoted $3.25-3.5m and passed in for $3.26m
  • 6 Lileura Avenue Beaumaris – quoted $2.3-2.5m and passed in for $2.42m
  • 20 Benson Street Surrey Hills – quoted $2.6-2.75m and passed in VB $2.6m
  • 20 Fairmont Avenue Camberwell – quoted $2.5-2.75m and passed in for $2.61m
  • 130 Sackville Street Kew – quoted $4.7-4.9m then reduced to $4.5m and passed in for $4.59m

For the type of properties these were, in the context of ‘their’ market, these results did not necessarily surprise us. Vendors need to know how their property fits into the market.  Just because a house around the corner achieved a certain price, it doesn’t necessarily mean that nearby houses will fetch the same.

There were also some very big sales over the last week:

  • 107 Prospect Hill Road Camberwell – quoted $2.7-2.9m, sold just under $3.3m
  • 72 Elgin Street Hawthorn – quoted $1.8-1.98m, sold for more than $2.4m
  • 31 Carson Street Kew – quoted $4.18m, sold for $4.563m
  • 12 Portland Place South Yarra – quoted $2.65-2.7m, sold for $3.34m
  • 42 Toorak Road West South Yarra – quoted $4-4.4m, sold for $5m
  • 11 Davie Avenue Cheltenham – quoted $1.85-1.98m, sold for $2.401m
  • 69 Kerferd Street Malvern East – quoted $2.27m, sold for over $3m
  • 30 Asling Street Brighton – quoted $2.7-2.8m, sold for just under $3.2m

So where to from here?

Easter (and the school holidays) may provide some time for buyers to pause and reflect. The recent results may also instill confidence in some vendors to take the plunge and put their homes on the market.

There could be an increase in homes for first/second time buyers in the market. Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act come into place this week, with landlords and their homes required to meet minimum standards of living for their tenants.

A number of landlords have owned homes for 20, 30, 40 years or more with little or no maintenance to the properties over the years. For some, costs to meet the new standards may be $50-100k or more, of which many may not have the cashflow to fund, possibly resulting in more choices for buyers if they are prepared to do some work. As we’ve found for some of our clients, looking for a B-grader that could become an A-grader could result in greater opportunities in the coming months.

Generally, however, Melbourne and Australia are continuing to prove a great and safe place to live. Expats are still moving back and families are wanting to enjoy their homes with the thought that if we are ever locked down again, at least it will be something a little more comfortable. Stock and interest rates remain low, so possibly things won’t be too different after all. But who really knows?

 

Some of the better properties scheduled for Auction; an architect’s view

 

85 Finch Street Malvern East – Joanna Nairn/Maria Vovos, Marshall White

44 Hawthorn Grove Hawthorn – Sam Wilkinson/Gerald Delany, Kay & Burton

 

‘Off-market’ Properties:

  • Edwardian on approx. 1,300sqm with court & pool, Brighton – circa $11m
  • Timber Edwardian on corner block, Malvern East – circa high $2m
  • Two storey brick Edwardian, 4-3-2, approx. 800 sqm, Malvern east – circa $5m
  • Fully renovated Victorian Terrace, 4-2.5-2, South Yarra – circa $5.65m
  • Brick Edwardian, 3-2-0, approx. 187sqm, Armadale – circa $1.8m
  • Well positioned older contemporary home, approx. 720sqm, Camberwell – circa $2.3m
  • Fully renovated/extended Edwardian w pool, Hawthorn – circa $6m
  • Fully renovated 3 bed home, close to beach, Sandringham – circa $2m+
  • Single level, fully renovated family home, Brighton East – circa $3.4m
  • 3-4 bed period home on approx. 505sqm, St Kilda East – circa $1.8m+
  • Contemporary family home on approx. 772sqm, Brighton – circa $5.75m
  • Large, renovated, family home, approx. 800sqm, Elwood – circa mid $4m
  • Updated 80s family home on over 700sqm land, Brighton – circa high $2m
  • Timber single level Edwardian, pool, Brighton – circa $2.5m
  • Extended period home, looking for update, Brighton – circa mid $3m

 

Auction Spotlight:

Positioned on the corner to Coppin Street, 52 Finch Street Malvern East offers the new owner the opportunity to work with the original front of the period home to create their dream family home (stca), on a good sized block of approx. 811sqm, with a bright north rear aspect.   The front rooms deliver lovely proportions to work with, while the whole rear would benefit from a fresh start.

A large crowd of interested parties and neighbours came to watch or participate in the auction, run by Iain Carmichael on behalf of the Jellis Craig team.  Opening with a vendor bid of $3.1m, two bidders dug deep to secure the property.  The home ended up selling for a solid $3.575m.

Strong market sees record highs

Buyers, sellers, agents, analysts and reporters woke on Saturday morning with an air of optimism as the Melbourne property market hosted the largest auction weekend since the pre-Covid days in early 2020. They weren’t disappointed. Traditionally the end of February is the first big weekend of a new year, as it is four weeks since school resumed and campaigns can run uninterrupted.

There was an 84% clearance rate and some of the highest results we have seen. This is not just compared to pre-Covid; many properties sold at levels higher than the highs of 2017.

Many quotes were smashed, sometimes by more than 20-30%, such as:

  • 62 Kinkora Road Hawthorn – quoted $4.7-5m, selling for $6.55m
  • 37 Gladstone Street Sandringham – quoted $1.9-2.09m, selling for $2.78m
  • 17 Dalmor Avenue Ormond – quoted $1.6-1.7m, selling for $1.967m
  • 58 Alfred Street Prahran – quoted $1.6-1.76m, selling for $2.25m
  • 26 Parslow Street Malvern – quoted $3-3.3m, selling for $3.675m
  • 36 Campbell Street Brighton – quoted $2.9-3.1m, selling for $3.5m

For many buyers, it will be back to the drawing board. For the moment there are three options:

  • Find more money
  • Move to a suburb (or two) further out
  • Be prepared to accept a less comfortable home

With the first option perhaps being the hardest for many buyers, recalibrating the search area and the property non-negotiables may be the best option for success.

We are encouraging our clients to be flexible with the property, with the knowledge that it can become what they want down the track. This isn’t always easy to determine. Having an architect on board certainly makes it easier to focus on the B graders that can turn into A graders. Not all homes can become what you want/need and some can cost a lot more money to achieve the same outcome. Buying well is important – and sometimes passing on properties is important too, as many properties are just not worthy (or possible) of a renovation.

On a brighter note for buyers, many homes currently on the market are likely to see an updated Statements of Information this week. Where it has been hard for agents to find sales within 2km, in the last six months, this is now no longer the case.

This could help buyers make better decisions around their chances of success, as some of the due diligence undertaken requires financial outlay such as contract checks or pest and building inspections with no certainty of success.

We saw many homes on the weekend sell with 3, 4, 5 or more bidders vying for the keys. That would suggest there are still multiple buyers searching for their new home. With the stock levels for ‘the right homes’ still very low, we don’t expect to see much change to the current market sentiment.

Of course if vendors suddenly decide that they want to sell and expect that the market will see 10% plus increases each week, the market could very quickly start to see some more pass-ins, as buyers may not be able to keep up with their expectations.

Open for inspections were also very popular on the weekend, with some agents recording groups of 50 or more on the well-presented and marketed homes. Are stock levels low? Well, not really if you look the numbers; however, the buyer numbers are so great now (i.e. those that still haven’t bought from last year, expats coming back and also many ‘new’ buyers), the demand is certainly outweighing supply.

 

Some of the better properties scheduled for Auction; an architect’s view

11 Lyall Street Hawthorn – Campbell Ward/Peter Vigano, Jellis Craig

6 Lileura Avenue Beaumaris – Errol Driver/Jim Kalogerakis, Hodges

 

‘Off-market’ Properties:

  • Land opportunity, wide north frontage, approx. 682sqm, Toorak – circa $6.6m
  • Fully renovated brick single fronter, 2-1-0, South Yarra – circa $1.2m
  • Art Deco family home, pool, DLUG, fully renovated, Ripponlea – circa mid $4m
  • Renovated single level brick Edwardian, 3-1-1, Prahran – circa $2m
  • Contemporary, dated, family home, approx. 700sqm, Hampton – circa $2.3m
  • Brick period with modern rear, 3-2-2, Elwood – circa $2.3m
  • Land with plans for dual occ or family home, Camberwell – circa $2.25m
  • Golden mile family home on approx. 360sqm, Brighton – circa $3.7m
  • Brick Edwardian semi on approx. 400sqm, Glen Iris – high $1m
  • Modern family home on over 700sqm, Glen Iris – circa $4.7m
  • Renovated 80s family home, Malvern East – circa $4.7m
  • Single level renovated home, Hawthorn – circa early $2ms
  • Gascoigne Estate, family home, two storey, Malvern east – circa $4.75m
  • Updated single level home, Malvern – circa $5m

 

Auction Spotlight:

Halli Moore from Buxton, with joint agent Jenny Dwyer of Belle Property, had a great crowd to work with at the successful auction of 46 Retreat Road Hampton

The home on offer at 46 Retreat Road Hampton ticked many boxes for families looking in the area – a well presented updated home with a good range of spaces. It’s proximity to shops and the suburb’s amenities, coupled well with the park only one door away. As a bonus, the playground is currently undergoing a major redevelopment.

The auction was late in the day, so a buzz of expectation was palpable in the crowd, having seen some strong results at auctions earlier in the day.  The opening bid was placed at $2.3m, matching the lower end of the quote range. From here it quickly went up in $50,000 bids, picked up another bidder, dropped the first and exceeded the reserve of $2.6m. More bidders stepped in, although offers now ranged between $1,000-$10,000.  The home was very nearly knocked down at $2.736m before a bid was placed in the very last second before the contract hit Halli’s hand. This brought forth a flurry of activity, with neither of the last two parties willing to give up the keys to the home.  The property was eventually sold for $2.872m to enthusiastic applause from the crowd. A reasonably strong result for the offering we think.

 

 

 

Our thoughts as the 2021 property market commences

Welcome back to the 2021 Melbourne property market.

What a difference Christmas and New Year can make to media sentiment. The doom and gloom being reported by the media for much of 2020 has now been replaced with positivity and talk of the strength and resilience of the Melbourne market.

With limited holiday opportunities, buyers have been eager to inspect the stock and many of Saturday’s open for inspection were greeted by long queues of hopeful buyers, some returning to continue their search and others out for their first inspections.

Stock levels, however, remain low. Although the unofficial opening of the market is not until next weekend (after the Australia Day holiday), our early conversations with agents suggest that there could be fewer homes again than normal for this time of year.

We expect to see more of the following:

  • Return of the traditional three week (four Saturday) auction campaigns, rather than zoom auctions.
  • More scheduled open for inspection times, rather than private appointments.
  • Good competition for homes that are ready to move in (no work required).
  • Good homes selling quickly, possibly before auction or closing dates.
  • Off market properties volumes remaining at similar levels.
  • Vendors wanting above market prices are still likely to find it harder to sell.

Saturday 27 February is shaping up to be the first high volume auction weekend for the year, which should provide a guide leading into Easter. What happens beyond Easter may depend on any future Covid-19 outbreaks, consumer confidence as JobKeeper/JobSeeker payments finalise and any changes to stock levels.

For the moment, though, the most important thing a buyer can do is be prepared so that if the right property does present, you don’t miss the opportunity to buy it.

 

Some of the better properties coming up for auction; an architect’s view

57 Mary Street Hawthorn – Cameron Ingram/Bruce Bonnett, Nelson Alexander

8 Kerferd Street Hampton – Peter Hickey/Sam Harrison, Buxton 

 

2020: a year in review

It’s hard to believe that we are coming to the end of another year when, in many ways, it feels like we are still just starting 2020.

The Melbourne property market has experienced a number of ‘firsts’ this year.  Some of the bigger firsts include:

  • first total lockdown (no physical inspections)
  • first only ‘one on one’ inspections
  • first ban on public auctions
  • first ‘online’ auctions

The media sensationally suggested the market would crash, anywhere from 10%-40%, depending on what you were reading.

We didn’t see it. 

Many Melburnians remained confident to both buy and/or sell.

The good properties, with realistic vendors, saw continued strong results. Our auction (when they returned) clearance rates were consistently above 70% and the last two weeks have been over 80%.

We saw a number of new buyers enter the market. Our forced lockdowns, for those lucky enough to remain employed, resulted in incomes being saved and not spent. Overseas holidays were cancelled; in fact, nearly all holidays were cancelled. Less money was spent on food and entertainment. Forced savings perhaps, but the results were the same and, for some, the savings were enough to take that first step into the property market.

Not everything sold though. A number of vendors (many with homes that came with some challenges) campaigned in search for a ‘dream’ price, well above the market, and will no doubt have some time over Summer now to reflect on whether they want to remain in their properties for 2021 or meet the market and move on with their lives and plans.

 

What does this mean for 2021?

 

We believe the 2020 year has resulted in buyers making more considered choices around where they want to live and how the house will work for them. Changes to lifestyle, including working from home, have identified some flaws in the modern floorplan. While open plan is good, breakaway rooms offering privacy and silence for meetings/calls make it much easier for larger families living under the one roof.

We are hoping the recent results will encourage more vendors to sell. If low numbers remain, it is likely the supply/demand scale will also remain, with demand, particularly for the good ones, resulting in competitive auctions and strong results.

Being optimistic, for younger/first home buyers, we may see an increase in properties in the second quarter. New tenancy legislation (postponed during Covid) is due to come into effect from 29 March 2021, with some changes around mandatory requirements for homes being tenanted. Depending on the condition of homes, some vendors may opt to sell their properties rather than undertake works to make them compliant, providing more choices for buyers.

In general, though, unless we see more instability, the market is likely to take off where it has finished up. 

As an Independent service which prides itself in only offering Buyer Advocacy real estate services, our best advice for buyers as they start their search in 2021 is be prepared. Have a plan and have your finances sorted, because if the right house comes up, it would be a shame to miss it because you weren’t prepared.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a wonderful break with your families and a safe entry into the New Year.

Melbourne property market making up for lost time

Off the back of a few weeks of 70% plus auction clearance rates, the property market in Melbourne is humming along nicely. In some cases, prices are surpassing historical records. The auction system is working well for the experienced agents and, as a general rule, the scales seem to be tilted in the favour of the seller – if the property is correctly priced.

Many agents have commented that when a new property lists, it is inundated with enquiry and inspection requests the first week.  If the buyer isn’t in that first enquiry mix, the property is more likely to take quite a while to sell.

Ready to move in homes are driving market success. Houses don’t have to be perfect in terms of current renovation, but they need to have a good floorplan with the right mix of rooms and good outdoor spaces. 

The desire to have one large open plan living area is not quite as high on the list as it previously may have been. COVID-19 lockdown has proven that breakaway rooms and studies are required for a family to function effectively for a long period of time in the home particularly if there are a number of parties needing privacy for calls or zoom meetings.  Bedrooms work to an extent for separation; however, it can become quite depressing if you are resigned to being in your bedroom all day and night.

Hampton, a market that has been particularly strong and forgiving of properties’ faults for many years now, faltered over the weekend. A number of properties advertised with ranges inside $2-2.5million were auctioned and passed in – 40 May Street, 122 Linacre Road, 108 Ludstone Street and 35 David Street (David sold later). Why? We think the homes had compromises – on offer were a mix of homes with orientation, slope, mixed levels, busy road and narrow road issues. Most needed more money spent on them to improve in some way. 

We mentioned in our June blog https://www.woledgehatt.com.au/20-june-2020/ that buyers were making decisions around lifestyle, in particular relocating to more rural areas such as the Mornington Peninsula, as working from home looked like becoming more acceptable post-COVID-19 and into the future.

It appears that the same decisions may also be being made more locally by buyers still wishing to stay closer to family, schools, work etc. However, this is more around the offering of the home itself rather than the position first. 

Highett has been considered the more affordable suburb to Hampton. 21 Haynes Street auctioned on the weekend. The property offered a quiet street, pretty façade, single-storey living, good bedroom separation, multiple living zones plus a study, along with a pool and outdoor entertaining area. While the Hampton properties struggled to find a bidder collectively on the weekend, 21 Haynes attracted six bidders, pushing the price to $2.1 million.

A similar property in Carnegie, not quite as current but with an equally functional floorplan, saw four bidders push the price to $2 million. 

We are not saying these properties were poorly located. On the contrary, both were in good positions with an easy walk to local shops and the station. What we have noticed, however, is that some buyers are choosing the better home in the slightly lower priced suburb over the suburb first. 

On the building front, renovations are becoming more expensive, often with unknown surprise expenses once you start. Of course, good planning and advice is key to avoiding surprises – many people we hear set off on the wrong foot (i.e. are poorly advised) and therefore fall into big trouble many months on. With the possible future economic uncertainty, quantified amounts seem to be preferred, particularly in certain price brackets. And it pays to get good advice from a qualified architect.

What do we expect for the rest of the year? We think a slow down as we edge closer to Christmas – but that may not be until December 24! Since the market resumed, agents have had to change how they manage their time. Private inspections and then strict number limits have meant many more hours have been spent at properties (compared with the typical 2 x 30 minute set times of the past), leaving less time to focus or the need to work longer hours to get everything done. The recent buying activity has meant more sellers looking to ‘test’ the market through a soft campaign (i.e. digital only). Traditionally, many agents like to be spending the next few weeks selling what is already on the market and with far fewer sales for this time of the year, compared with previous years, it is likely many will look to put 2020 behind them, and launch in early 2021. That’s not to say there won’t be any off-markets now; we have bought four in the past five days. Two were completely ‘off market’, the other two via a ‘blast email’ from the agency database. There are opportunities out there, you just need to know where to look and who to ask.

 

Some of the better properties currently on the market; an architect’s view

12 Sorrett Avenue Malvern – Abby Innes / James Tomlinson, Marshall White

18 Pasadena Avenue Beaumaris – Alex Schiavo / Eleisha Doherty, Kay & Burton

 

‘Off-market’ Properties:

  • Californian Bungalow looking for update, over 1,000sqm, Malvern East – circa $3m
  • Two storey family home with north rear, ~700sqm, Malvern – early $3m
  • Brick Edwardian, ~600sqm, north rear, Malvern – high $3m
  • Updated Victorian weatherboard, single level, Malvern East – circa $2.4m
  • 1940s single level, family home, ~520sqm, Elwood – circa early $3m
  • Double fronted Victorian, single level, Canterbury – circa high $3m
  • Californian Bungalow with a north rear, Hampton – circa high $2m
  • Hawthorne brick, 2 storey Victorian, ~1500sqm, Hawthorn – circa $10m
  • Victorian single fronter, 2-1-0, north-west rear, St Kilda – circa $1.3m
  • Family home, corner position, overlooking park, Sandringham – circa $2.3m
  • Large art deco home over two levels, Brighton – circa high $4m
  • Modern family home with pool, Brighton East – circa $3m
  • Californian Bungalow, near central park, Malvern East – circa $3m
  • Contemporary family home, good land, pool, Hampton – circa early $3m

Where to from here for the property market?

It feels like we have reached a juxtaposition where nothing is changing yet things are changing (finally). History may show that this period we’ve experienced in the property market will never happen again. Is this best for buyers or sellers? Time will tell.

Auctions can now take place outside with a maximum number of 10 persons, plus the agents and vendors involved in the sale. When the limit of 10 is filled, agencies are then using online portals to accommodate additional bidders. Will this radically change the way property is transacting at the moment?

While many agents are commenting on how much they are enjoying one-on-one inspections, others are mentally exhausted as they stand on one property for sometimes three or four hours or more as they allow individual 15-minute inspections to take place, one after another. As a buyer, you need to be super-organised, and for many properties 15 minutes just isn’t long enough to view the home, so buyers are needing to come back multiple times, or, in some cases, they are just finding it all too hard and moving on.

For some buyers, they are discovering that there are vendors happy to negotiate and sell before all the interested buyers have even inspected the home. As a buyer, it could be heartbreaking to find out the property you had been waiting for is going to sell before you’ve even had a chance to inspect it. Who would buy a home unseen? Well, some people have…

Agents are saying there are a number of new buyers to the market since this most recent lockdown. Some are ‘hot’ to buy; however, there are also a number of agents who have commented that some buyers are taking advantage of home inspections to get out of the house. Others are future vendors checking out, for their own interest, what similar properties are worth.

As a buyer, it is important to be front-of-mind with the agents; however, to do this you are likely to need to disclose a lot more information about yourself, your budget, your potential to sell (if you buy) etc. than you would have done pre-Covid. You may even need to provide finance approval documentation. This may not necessarily be in your best interest as a buyer, particularly if you are the only party interested in a property, but withholding information may result in missing out on some homes for sale, particularly ones for sale quietly.

Asking prices are also harder to judge. Many quiet properties are asking for ‘high’ prices, well above what makes sense. Others, however, are very reasonable. As a buyer, knowing the market you are buying in is even more important, as the ‘social proof’ provided by ‘open for inspections’ and ‘public auctions’ of the past is not currently available.

Where to from here? With restrictions easing, we will see more properties come on the market publicly and, due to limited time running in to Christmas, we will see auctions take place on days (possibly mid-week evenings) other than Saturday, which is the traditional auction day in Melbourne.

Large numbers of off market homes are also likely to remain until the end of the year. It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of an ‘off market’ but many of these homes can be overpriced or have other concerns. Due diligence is important when considering off market properties.

Finally, with interest rates remaining low and finance possibly becoming easier to obtain in the new year, combined with no real pressures (yet) for vendors to sell, a shortage of quality stock will likely remain the issue for buyers.

 

Properties we like currently on the market; an architect’s view 

28 Claremont Avenue Malvern – Simon Curtain/Hamish Palmer-Hill, Abercromby’s

54-56 Bamfield Street Sandringham – Greg Downes/Campbell Cooney, Hodges

 

Some of the better ‘Off-market’ Properties we have been privy to:

  • Contemporary family home, adjoining park, Brighton East – circa $3.3m
  • Large modern family home with basement, Brighton East – circa $5.2m
  • Edwardian home on large land, Hampton – circa $2.7m
  • Townhouse, 3 homes from the beach, Black Rock – circa $2.25m
  • Single level weatherboard home, Beaumaris – circa $1.45m
  • Large family home on good land near beach, Black Rock – circa $3.3m
  • Renovated Victorian, 2 storey, 5 bed, 2 bath, 2 OSP, Armadale – circa $3.45m
  • Fully renovated Victorian, 4 bed, Malvern – circa $6m
  • Newly renovated Edwardian, Malvern – circa $3m
  • 1960s style home or over 700sqm land, Malvern – circa $2.6m
  • Renovated brick Edwardian, north rear, Malvern – circa $4.5m
  • 1990s two storey family home, 5 beds, pool, Malvern – circa $6m
  • Californian Bungalow family home, fully renovated, Malvern East – circa $3.75m
  • Semi attached art deco looking for renovation, Kooyong – circa $1.75m
  • Edwardian brick family home, Malvern East – circa $2.8m
  • Modern family home on good land, Camberwell – circa high $3m
  • Adjoining homes for individual sale or development w. plans, Camberwell – circa $5m
  • Edwardian family home with tennis court and pool, Canterbury – circa $6m
  • Edwardian family home on large block, needing update, Camberwell – circa $7.5m
  • Californian Bungalow family home, Glen Iris – circa $2.5m
  • Californian Bungalow, renovated, 3 bed, 2 bath, 1 garage, Hawthorn east – circa $2.7m
  • Weatherboard single fronter, needing reno, South Yarra – circa $1.45m
  • Edwardian brick single fronter, fully renovated, Prahran – circa $1.35m
  • Spanish style, river facing, looking for update, South Yarra – circa $4.5m
  • Contemporary renovated home, 3 bed, 2 bath, 2 garage, Prahran – circa $2.3m
  • Refurbished Californian Bungalow with studio, Prahran – circa $1.9m
  • Victorian timber single fronter, 4 bed, 2 bath, 2 OSP, Windsor – circa $2.2m
  • Townhouse, 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 garage, Elwood – circa $1.3m
  • Fully renovated period home, 4 bed, 2 bath, 2 car, St Kilda East – circa early $2m