Spring is here but it doesn’t feel like it in the Melbourne property market.

We’ve just had the first weekend of Spring. It was supposed to be a Super Saturday (with over 1100 homes advertised for auction), but it just didn’t feel like it. The clearance rate figure advertised was not totally accurate, with 200-300 properties being withdrawn from auction due to limited and/or no buyer interest (this happens most weeks, yet the number on the weekend we felt was a bit higher than normal).

If vendor expectations were realistic and/or the product good, properties did sell. 

A few strong auctions of note:

  • 9 Cowper Street Brighton – approx. 305sqm, corner block with (heritage listed) Victorian home, needing a full renovation, very close to the shops/station – quote $1.2-1.3m, sold for $2.02m
  • 4 Dominic Street Camberwell – large, comfortable (could move straight in) family home with flexible floorplan – quoted $3.5-3.8m, sold for $4.515m. Great single level renovated home and had a high scarcity factor. Multiple bedroom/bathroom options (which is prized for multi-generational living).

However, for many who sold on the weekend, the sales results were in (or not too far from) their quote prices:

  • 38 Hardy St South Yarra  quoted $1.25m-$1.35m, sold for $1.355m
  • 123 Leopold Street South Yarra  quoted $3-3.3m, sold for $3.040m
  • 1/39 Grandview Grove Prahran  quoted $1.75-$1.85m, sold $1.865m
  • 26 Studley Road Brighton East – quoted $3.2-3.42m, sold for $3.275m
  • 8 Elgin Street Hawthorn – quoted $2.5-2.75m, sold for undisclosed price, just over top of the quote.


Agent feedback and insights

 When questioning the volume of properties being auctioned on Saturday, many of the agents we spoke to in the southeastern suburbs had consistent feedback:

  • Stock remains tight – particularly for the A graders
  • There has been a slight improvement to stock levels
  • Many more investors selling (see below for more detail)
  • Quoting the property and realistic vendor expectations is all important – buyers are price sensitive for the B and C graders


Off-market properties

We note an increasing number of properties, originally available for sale as ‘off market’ homes, being realised at public auctions with results often 10-15% or more below their original ‘off market’ asking price. 

Maybe vendors are thinking ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. The problem with this though is that it can diminish the effectiveness of an advertised campaign, as many key buyers have already been through the property and others get confused about what the vendor is actually trying to achieve.  Are they really sellers and what is the real price?

We feel a high number (although not all) of the off market homes are overpriced at the moment and, on occasion, a vendor may get lucky selling quietly at their inflated asking price. 

It is becoming apparent that the romance and excitement of buying a property ‘off market’ can often over-ride normal due diligence, including an understanding of where the property may sit ‘price wise’ in the market.

Where buyers are often far more considered when it comes to their spending on the general household, when it comes to the biggest purchase they may ever make, there is still a perception that the agent is ‘helping’ them secure the property for them. 

 Make no mistake, they’re working for the vendor and if they think you are their best option to achieve the vendor’s price, they are not going to be advising if the property is heavily inflated or not. They are relying on your desire to purchase something you think no one else knows about.  

With modern technology that can advise a full office database within seconds of a listing, you could be just entering a ‘smoke and mirrors’ process where the agent can more easily manipulate you into paying the price they want you to pay, rather than a price the property may be worth.

Having said all that, the good ones can sell well ‘on market’ or ‘off market’, as a  couple of recent results in Surrey Hills show, including one in Middlesex Road (just shy of $5m) and Guildford Road (in excess of $4m).

Of note, these were both good, well-presented properties and doubtless the agencies would have loved to have seen these being showcased in the public forum.

There are a number of ‘off market’ homes asking big prices that don’t have the same strengths that these properties offered.

As a buyer, who has your best interests at heart?


Changing vendor profile and landscape

A key change to the property market is the number of rental properties up for sale (and these are not just your typical $400-600K apartments). Some of the reasons for the increase in the sale of rental properties include:

  • increased interest rate payments and land tax payments.
  • greater tenancy rights (often to the detriment of vendors who own the properties).
  • increased council rates, insurance, management and renovation costs.
  • problematic council orders (mostly relating to cladding issues).
  • owners needing to liquidate money for business or personal reasons.
  • annual/bi-annual safety checks.
  • return on investment just not there, many people see greater value in shares.

There are perhaps two main reasons why ‘others’ don’t want investment properties to be sold:

  • it is going to place an increased pressure on the number of homes (or lack of homes) available for the rental market, making it even harder and more expensive to find somewhere to live for many people.
  • it is reducing the value of ‘rent rolls’ for agencies who rely on this to cover their regular office outgoings as well as its saleable value for the future – and this can be very valuable.

We think the number of rental properties coming on for sale will continue to increase as we head toward the end of the year, as many vendors won’t want to incur new or increased land tax bills come January 1, 2024. As a buyer you really need to do your homework  as always a good understanding of the due diligence required and understanding of price is key (rather than predicting the next best area and projected yields).

With the footy finals now upon us, the focus for many turns to post-Grand Final, when children are back from school holidays and there are less interruptions to the real estate program. Maybe then we will see the return of the Super Saturday.


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


33 Jordan Street Malvern – Will Bennison/Carla Fetter, Jellis Craig

139 Thomas Street Hampton – Robin Parker/Kate Fowler, Marshall White



‘Off-market’ Properties:


  • Modern newly built family home, 4-3-0, South Melbourne – circa $3.45m
  • Contemporary family home, 4-3-2, ~420sqm, Malvern East – circa $3.0m
  • Modern 3-3-2 over 3 levels, near amenities, South Yarra – circa 3.5m
  • Edwardian brick single fronted, 2-2-0, Malvern – circa $2.0m
  • Single level Victorian, 3-1-0, ~270sqm, Hawthorn – circa $2.5m
  • 1930s 2-storey semi attached, 2-1.5-2, ~500sqm, Camberwell – circa 2.5m
  • Edwardian family home, 4-2-1, ~560sqm, Surrey Hills – circa $3.3m
  • Art deco family home 4-2-2, ~850sqm, Ivanhoe – circa 2.75m
  • Californian Bungalow, 4-2-2, ~710sqm, Kew East – circa $3.8m
  • 2-storey Victorian, 3-2-1, ~190sqm, Prahran – circa $2.6m
  • Double fronted Victorian, 4-2-1, ~260sqm, Armadale – circa $2.2m
  • Brick Edwardian on ~900sqm, 3-2-2, needing update, Malvern East – circa $4.9m
  • Edwardian family home, 4-3-2, north rear, ~930sqm, Malvern East – circa $5.4m
  • Edwardian renovated 3-2-1 double fronted, Malvern – circa $2.4m
  • Hamptons style TH, 3-2-1, ~170sqm, Malvern – circa $2.0m
  • Californian Bungalow near amenities, ~400sqm, Hampton – circa $2.4m
  • Striking modern family home, 4 bed, ~890sqm, Hampton – circa $5m+
  • Contemporary 2-storey family home, 4-2-2, Beaumaris – circa $2.45m
  • Family/multi-generational home looking for update, 5-3-2, Beaumaris – circa $1.95m
  • Fully renovated Victorian, 2-1-0, Albert Park – circa $1.575m
  • Renovated contemporary family home, 4-2-2, Elsternwick – circa $1.9m


Auction Spotlight

Lachie Fraser-Smith heads up the Jellis Craig team at the auction of 3 St James Road Armadale.


On a beautiful spring sunny Melbourne morning witnessed by a small crowd of around 30 people, 3 St James Road Armadale went under the hammer with Jellis Craig. A well-presented single fronted 2-bedroom Victorian Terrace with a north-facing courtyard, well located to shops, transport and amenities.  After a slow opening, the auction eventually opened with a bid of $1.5m. From here, it then quickly moved, with two bidders pushing it to $1.7m when the property was announced on the market. The eventual purchaser came in late and it sold for $1.720m. We have recently been seeing properties that start off as an ‘off-market’ opportunity, and if they then don’t sell within a few weeks, they are converted to a campaign (as was the case here). This can sometimes have an adverse effect on a result as the off-market price is normally higher than an advertised campaign price and buyers can get confused.