If a vendor won't meet the market, the property will not sell

There was a very interesting article by Chris Vedelago in The Age on Sunday concerning listings in Melbourne that have been hanging on the market for an extended period of time, and have subsequently dropped significantly in price.  I’ve often commented how good property will sell well in any market, and it’s an adage that carries a lot of weight.  Therefore, considering the catchy headline “The strange cases of the good houses that just won’t sell”, it’s worth noting in more detail why these Victorian listings in question haven’t sold, and whether we can attribute it to the current doldrums surrounding the real estate market, or if there are other factors to take into consideration.

2506/83 Queensbridge Street, Southbank, has reportedly been on the market since October 30, 2010. Listed initially at $2.15 million, the asking price has now reduced some $500,000 to $1.65 million. This property regularly features on SQM’s top 10 most discounted list. The property is a luxury penthouse apartment with a family-sized interior and views extending to Mt Martha.  Situated on the border of what is now considered the world’s “most liveable city”, it’s also in an area serviced by the best amenities Melbourne has to offer – so why hasn’t it sold?

Melbourne’s Southbank – once an industrial area – was initially converted into a high-density, high-rise city, in the 1990s as part of the urban renewal program.  Purchasing in a penthouse may sound like the lap of luxury, however it’s a common misconception and subsequently there is a very limited buyer market for this type of development.  Typically when built, high-rise developments will sell at the lower levels before the upper levels.  This is because buyers like a sense of relativity.  There’s something rather unnatural about being perched up high.  Even though the adverts spruik stunning city views and close proximity to inner-city amenities, if you dip into the archives and read about the experiences of residents who have lived in these developments, they often paint descriptions akin to living in a hotel room rather than a ‘”home”.  The lifestyle lacks a sense of community and can be very sterile – therefore there are often reports of renters not fulfilling their promised term of tenancy, units having high turnover rates, or views being built out – (not to mention the high owners’ corp fees which generate into the thousands – the higher up you are, the higher the bill).

This unit is right next door to Crown Casino.  The location may be OK for a holiday destination, but how many home buyers would want a large casino on their doorstep? Apartments like this are always sensitive to market movements and traditionally suffer high volatility. They appeal to a luxury elite market (often an Asian market who are more adept to high-rise living) and considering the global tribulation  we’ve experienced in recent times – there’s obviously not going to be a queue of buyers lining up for this type of development.  It passed in earlier this year for $1.35 million on what was reportedly a genuine bid – with a reserve of $1.6 million. The last comparable apartment to sell in the block went for $1.1 million at the end of the boom in 2007.  Therefore if you factor in the rises and falls the million-dollar-plus market has experienced since 2007, $1.35 million wasn’t a bad achievement!  After a year of marketing obviously the vendors aren’t under pressure to sell; therefore they may be able to hang out until we move into the next upturn of the property cycle and buyer activity increases.

23 Gallica Close,  Niddre Situated 13 kilometres north west of the city, this property was initially listed on April 23, 2011 for $1,195,000, however the price has now reduced to $890,000. The house itself is unusual to say the least.  The room dimensions are compromised by a circular design, and it’s quite obviously something that would only appeal to the “odd” property buyer.  Furthermore, the street is on a very steep gradient, which further reduces its appeal.  I recall attending an auction in this street some years ago and struggling to stand upright or even obtain a secure foothold. Trying to sell a house like this in a soft market is always going to present a challenge – and even more so if not priced correctly.  As is typically the case when properties are overpriced, the vendors have only held the home for a short period of time.  This property was last purchased in March 2008 for $900,000.  They’re obviously hoping to cover their expenses and get a profit on the price they paid, however with a property like this, it’s not going to be easy in the current market.  It’s now listed for auction with a price quote of $890,000-$960,000.  Maybe it will have better luck finding a buyer as we move into the warmer months.

118 Carpenter Street, Brighton This might sound like a dream address.  After all, it’s close to Brighton’s top shopping strips, walking distance to middle Brighton train station, and in a suburb that’s tightly held because of its bayside appeal.  Considering it’s only 11 kilometres away from the CBD, you may be wondering why it hasn’t been snapped up.  Take a closer look and you’ll also see it also backs onto a train line, has a small land size for the area, and is situated next to a funeral parlour.  The home was initially listed on June 4, 2011 for $1.15 million, however after a few weeks and no result, the price was reduced to $890,000. Unfortunately it’s another example of vendors trying to get a profit after only a short period of ownership.  The house was initially purchased just over a year ago for $850,000 and therefore it’s unreasonable to expect a much higher price considering our current flat market conditions.  However in this case the price reduction worked.  The house sold earlier this month on September 2nd for a result just in excess of the last quoted price.

1/9 Albert Place, Hoppers Crossing, - Situated 23 kilometres west of the CBD, Hoppers Crossing isn’t one of the most sort after locations in Melbourne.  However the median house price in this area is currently $330,000 and considering this is $260,000 below the metro median, it’s obviously going to attract buyers looking for affordable options within a commutable distance to the CBD.  There’s nothing quintessentially wrong with this property, however it does have a rather unusual looking blue facade that won’t hold wide appeal.  It was initially listed May 27th for $545,000 however it’s now advertised at $400,000-$425,000. It’s on a subdivided smallish block of land and yet homes in the same street, on larger blocks of land, have been selling in the mid $300,000 – that’s some $100,000 less than the current advertised price range.  Therefore until the vendor is willing to “meet the market”, it’s unlikely to achieve the desired result.

It’s always hard to be completely accurate assessing a property’s worth without viewing it, however we live in one of the most transparent real estate markets in the word and there is a myriad of information available to help home buyers assess comparable value before they dig into their wallets.  Purchasers are generally taking a cautionary approach to property buying.  Vendors who need to sell have been forced to “meet the market”, and if they’ve held their homes for an extended period of time, they have no doubt made a profit upon the initial purchase price.  However those that aren’t under pressure to sell will have to hold out for better times if they want to achieve the ‘wish’ price many of them are still expecting. Good property will sell in any market, but poorly located homes that are generally overpriced won’t!

Catherine Cashmore is senior buyer advocate for JPP Buyer Advocates – the largest dedicated buyer advocacy service in Victoria. With extensive experience in all matters regarding real estate, JPP successfully purchases and negotiates more than $100 million worth of property each year.

Catherine Cashmore

Catherine Cashmore

Catherine Cashmore is a market analyst with extensive experience in all aspects relating to property acquisition.


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