oc | Sunday 1st November

I know the newspapers are running scared, but it still feels good, real good!

Out and about today 24 Clara St. South Yarra with Gowan Stubbings. Yeah I knew you like that joke about Mike Gibson

Out and about today, 24 Clara Street, South Yarra with Gowan Stubbings. Yeah, thought you’d like that joke about Mike Gibson.

Out and about today - Randall Smith, one of the searching stalwarts sniffing around on and off amrkets for our clients. This was at 11 Montclair Avenue with Ben Thompson

Out and about today – Randall Smith, one of our searching stalwarts sniffing around on and off markets for our clients. This was at 11 Montclair Avenue, Brighton with Ben Thompson.

41 Thanet St Malvern today with Fiona Ansell-Jones. They are both so polite, you can't tell who is winning the argument.

Out and about today: 41 Thanet Street, today with Fiona Ansell-Jones. They are both so polite, you can’t tell who is winning the argument.


With serious numbers of auctions not starting ’till the end of the month, this week has been about pre markets, off markets and continuing to assess the market temperature.

As you can see throughout this report, we are out and about and reporting from around the grounds, on the streets, about things that are happening.

And things, even at this early stage, are happening.

Seven clients went into our negotiation category today – meaning seven clients who were not bidding yesterday, now may have found the home they may want to bid or offer on, in the next few weeks.

This supports the feeling that Gina and Randall, Sim, Kathy, Rhi and I got at open for inspections, off markets and private visits today – and also when talking, coffeeing or lunching with agents during the week.

The market feels good – it feels solid – it feels balanced.

But of course it’s early days and we recognise this is completely at odds with what we are all reading in the papers, hearing on the news, perhaps thinking about, in our quieter moments.

However, as yet, none of us have seen or felt that sense of panic, that seems to be gripping our friends on the computer screens.

Will it happen next week? – maybe? – but it’s not happening now and not looking like it will anytime soon.

From a macro point of view, three thought patterns continue to cross my mind, as I read the words of panic and fear on the internet:

1) We deal in homes, family homes – people understand them, people need them – they are not as prone to calamity as balance sheet corrections, tricky boards and overseas change.

2) Last year I was wrong – I really didn’t think that Scott Morrison, the Reserve Bank,  APRA or the FIRB could do anything to halt the runaway market. What they have done at the Top End through leaning on banks to get their lending books in order, by increasing certain taxes for overseas buyers; has had a softer landing effect for now and has reduced the fervour in demand, without creating a huge vacuum.

I sincerely believe it was these sensible and in unison policies that have done that – and I have to admit that I didn’t think they could do it. Well done Scott Morrison, Philip Lowe and Wayne Byres (APRA) and David Irvine (FIRB) – but please keep it going gentlemen. Can you set your mind to helping out our younger homebuyer fraternity please?

3) As boring as it is – Demand and Supply, remains a life force. People are still coming into Melbourne – skilled people by the plane loads – they need to live somewhere and they have the skills and resources, for that somewhere to be nice (for Demand Inner Melbourne) AND there is less as population increases and some of that “home” is being taken away, to build apartments and other infrastructure (Supply).

Maybe I’m kidding myself – maybe I have a bias – but it all seems positively normal out there in Inner Melbourne.

Still two more weeks before our first Bidderman and Auction reports – so to fill the gaps we thought we would look at values and pricing.

This week is the first of our ongoing series of articles into Inner Melbourne Values and Pricing.

54 Wheatland Avenue Malvern today - Daniel Wheeler as helpful as ever, but I think his new offsider below needs to open up more.

54 Wheatland Avenue, Malvern today – Out the front Daniel Wheeler was as helpful as ever, but I think out the back, his new assistant below, needs to open up more when I ask the easy price quote questions.


Value Price

Value is not a number, it is a feeling.

Price has no emotion, no conjecture, it’s factual.

Price is not value and value is not price.

I buy a number of family homes for people –  perhaps more than anybody else in Melbourne, perhaps not – and at some point in the client and buyer advocate discussion we will get to money, to worth, to how much?

So when asked the question, how much should I pay Mal?

My response is often seen as flippant or evasive – as it’s never a question I answer directly.

In my opinion, your dream home has a value to you – as much as you think it is, at any point in time – not a dollar more and not a dollar less.

That is often very different from the price, I think a buyer may buy at or the seller may sell at.

This is value vs price.

Value is a feeling, an emotion and price is a number, a fact.

Good negotiators separate the two key concepts of price and value and they do so whether buying or selling.

Value is what an individual feels and price is what an individual does.

As you go up the food chain, establishing clear distinctions will enhance your ability to negotiate effectively, especially when much of your negotiation will be in isolation – with only advisory opinion fed to you (second hand) with little or no factual vindication.

So we help buyers and sellers with value, we give them pricing – but we don’t determine their value.

A working start point.

If you don’t have a clear starting point, then your negotiation position(s) are merely reflections of others (usually your opponents opinions). History shows this is not always a sound basis for effective negotiations, if your main aim is to achieve a result, in your best interests.

Over the years, I have found that a price range is superior to a single price because it allows better decision making.

If I give you a single number and it’s high, we pay high and we didn’t need to. If I give you a single number and it’s low, we miss out and you didn’t want to.

I accept that a single imposed “value” price is necessary in such matters as business accounts and divorce. However, in the matter of family home negotiation, it is an outdated concept; one that relates back to early last century law, when the notion of a “price at which one willing buyer and one willing seller, both with full knowledge and neither under pressure would pay” was the manner in which value was assessed for exchanges to take place.

In Melbourne in 2018, and in fact in many parts of the world, with massive population increases and the prevalence of moral and immoral, highly sophisticated selling techniques, the paradigm has changed. There can now be three willing buyers for the same one willing seller, the participants can be under “agent” pressure and more often than not, one or both or all of the participants, lack full knowledge.

A professional’s price range should contain the likely three key opinions on value (buyer, seller, highest other bidder).

Out and about today with Duane Woloweic at 15 Laxdale Road Camberwell

Out and about today with Duane Woloweic at 15 Laxdale Road, Camberwell

I’m a total believer in a simple algorithm to assist in giving initial guidelines of a possible pricing range and below are my current workings on three suburbs, expressed in $ per sqm. I keep lots of little notebooks – I think the internet and algorithms and software are all great sources of information, but to rely on them exclusively, is in the end to think………….. well to think, what everybody else thinks.

And this is where I part company with so many today. I feel that many completely abandon any satisfactory form of post-algorithm negotiation process, to test the validity of their initial pricing theory.

So this may seem a paradox, a catch-22 statement and possibly hard to pack away mentally, if you are new to pricing;


Once you have calculated price range AND if you are really, really good at your job, you will then assume you may be wrong AND as a true expert negotiator you will remain of that opinion, until the deal has been consummated between two parties, in writing.

More on that another time…..let’s not get too bogged down on theory.

So how do we at James Buyer Advocates establish initial pricing parameters on a targeted home? We use a process which we call our James Control Price Range?

Like any good accounting system we have checks and balances – it’s a triple entry system.

  • Land plus Building plus Emotion
  • Comparable to other similar homes
  • Totem Pole

Below we have started showing initial land values as we see them, in three key precincts, within key suburbs – Toorak, Hawthorn and Brighton – three of Melbourne’s four jewels.

The algorithm for land is often a simple multiplication – size by $ per sqm.


Well why do you buy potatoes by the kilo, material by the metre and hamburgers by the number? Practicality, convenience and history are a large part of that – the trick to good price negotiation, is to know more than just what you are initially told, by any party to the transaction – eg the fact is the land size and the $ per sqm the opinion.

Over the next few weeks/months, we will cover all major suburbs in Inner Melbourne for land pricings.

We will also examine pricing on all major building types.

And finally the Emotion factor – the number that improves negotiations to such a degree, that it gives your figures a rigor, that they simply would not have without the emotion component.

Land + Building + Emotion = Price Range.

But that’s for next week’s article.

I leave you this paradox

The pricing system we use is the one we use, because we have found it is the one that works best for our clients – simple as that.

It is one of checks and balances.

It is a combination of algorithm and mind craft (science and art) and when we arrive at the final “expert” price range – one of the key and immediate next steps we have found in effective negotiations, is to potentially distrust our own assumptions and begin the game with an open mind.

If you’re still with me, until next week then, when we examine specifically and simply;

Land + Building + Emotion = Price Range.


With Gerry Gordon today inspecting 11 Montclair Brighton.

With Gerry Gordon inspecting 11 Montclair, Brighton – out and about today.

One of several interesting family homesI visited in Bayside mid week - click on  picture to go through to rating.

One of several interesting family homes we visited in Bayside mid week – click on picture to go through to our James Home Rating.

James dollar per square metre prices we are using for Brighton land Dec 2017 to Feb 2018.

James $ per square metre pricing we are using for Brighton land Dec 2017 to Feb 2018.


83 Sackville Street Kew with Ross Savas today. On this photo imagine a thought bubble coming from each and then imagine what the contents are. Big prize for first correct entry opened and Ross I think you've broken my knuckle.

Up the stairs at 83 Sackville Street, with Ross Savas today. On this photo imagine a thought bubble coming from each and then imagine what the contents are. Big prize for first correct entry opened and Ross, I think you’ve broken my knuckle.

A Sackville Ward benchmark coming up for auction. Click on picture for James Buyer Rating.

A Sackville Ward Kew pricing benchmark coming up for Expressions of Interest. Click on picture for our James Home Rating.

James $ per square metre prices we are using for Hawthorn land Dec 2017 to Feb 2018.

James $ per square metre prices we are using for Hawthorn land Dec 2017 to Feb 2018.

 Cheer Up Andrew none of us here at James ever win the debates either. Out and about today at 59 Manningtree Road Hawthorn

Cheer Up Andrew (Harlock) – none of us here at James ever win the debates either. Out and about today at 59 Manningtree Road, Hawthorn


Inspecting today: 802 Orrong Road Toorak with Marcus Chiminello and Nicole French - $13,000,000 to $14,300,000

Inspecting today: 802 Orrong Road, Toorak with Marcus Chiminello and Nicole French – $13,000,000 to $14,300,000.

Liked it last time around and like it again. Click on picture for James Home Rating

Liked it last time around and like it again. Click on picture for our James Home Rating

James $ per square metre prices we are using for Toorak land Dec 2017 to Feb 2018. Full tables available for James Buy/Sell clients.

James $ per square metre prices we are using for Toorak land Dec 2017 to Feb 2018.


 East Malvern – Maasai – Serengeti – PlasterHouse


Sarah, oh Sarah how does the song go…..

Well nothing like what my 16-year-old daughter Maddie and her school friend Molly witnessed on our most recent visit to Africa, specifically Maasai country in northern Tanzania.

On our third trip back in four years – 24 hours via Doha and Nairobi – I stand here looking at what one woman has achieved in the face of great odds.

In ten years from a virgin piece of pastoral land overlooked by the substantial Mt Meru, with Mt Kilimanjaro backgrounding that; Australian Sarah Rejman has forged a major rehabilitation hospital, a major outreach service and a major community gamechanger (The PlasterHouse); that sees young African of Maasai, Chagga, Muslim, Christian backgrounds with disabilities such as burns, cleft palates, bow legs (due to water), club feet and more, much more – found, surgically fixed and returned to their community in better shape, life changed forever – full stop.

Sarah’s story is one of incredible mental toughness – the kind you may have witnessed at an Olympic Games, or a Super Bowl or a major final.

It is also a story of incredible bravery – not the same, but perhaps not unlike what an Everest climber exhibits or one that is at war or …………..

And her story is one of determination over a sustained period of time, where a forty year old (three young kids and husband Jack) from East Malvern, has completely reshaped how disabled children are viewed on the plains of the Serengeti.

Yes we’ve all heard recent opinions on Africa and Africans and if you’ve bothered to go there before passing judgment, then you will begin to understand the complexities of a migration from Black to White culture – but you may also begin to feel that unless you’re in the footsteps of those you judge, you can never truly understand just how hard life can be.


Disabled children in northern Tanzania have another level of harshness extra to that, added onto their routines of poverty, changing (even disappearing) cultures and the uncompromising law of the jungle.

Many disabled children don’t become disabled adults – while that will have a level of shock, as you work your way through that outcome – it also doesn’t have to be like this. Sarah has shown many in Tanzania, in the US and in Australia just that.

These children – when found by Sarah and her team (almost all local Tanzanians), when operated on, when rehabilitated at The PlasterHouse and when returned to their community, within a matter of a few days, weeks or months depending on surgery availability and recoveries – will begin to lead normal African lives.

Why PlasterHouse, why Sarah Rejman?

Hey, have you seen an intensive care unit in Africa – for a very few in the occasional big city it would be like walking into the Alfred – but for the vast majority, many in the outlying areas; an intensive care operating room, looks a lot like an admin office, down the back of the Kew tram depot and has about as many resources.

Hey, do you know how it would feel to walk your entire childhood on your ankles, with your feet turned backwards or to have fallen asleep into a cooking fire, in a moment of carelessness and be in pain for the rest for your life (when you didn’t have to be). Nope few of us do in Australia.

In Africa things are different and in some cases that’s a good thing; such as customs, culture, animals and people – why would Tanzanians want to have our levels of stress, lack of family bindings, time addictions and so on.

However in one case, not having what we have in Australia, is a bad thing – a good medical set up and improving views on fixable disabilities.

SarahRejman 2

So Sarah is a force, a Swahili speaking redhead:

a ginger nut in a sea of non blueys and yet all at the PlasterHouse rehabilitation hospital seem ok taking her directions. Staff are sent out on outreach, children are shepherded to the local hospitals for their repairs and those that remain under PlasterHouse post-operative care are checked and re-checked.

Sarah Rejman is a wonderful woman and yes there are a few wonderful Australian women in Africa (but you can count them on one hand, and Africa is a big place) – Sarah is making a huge difference to the lives of so many and yet so few – and it’s not political, it’s not religious – it’s purely medical.

Someone else will help – I don’t need to do anything.

That was the attitude I took with two people on an outreach visit I took with Sarah in 2016. Between that time and Jan 2018, I lost my way on those two people – they simply needed some funding for an eye complaint and a prosthetic. On my return a fortnight ago I found neither the eye problem was solved, nor the prosthetic acquired and yet the solution was simple. My point, unless you do it – in Africa the poverty is such, that nobody else will.

I haven’t made the same mistake this time around.

Sarah hasn’t made that mistake for over 10 years.

You too can help.

Twice every year, Sarah needs to raise $A50,000 to pay for hospital care for 90 to 100 children, who are operated on by American surgeons who fly in, fix and fly out (at no charge) to help these young children – not all Americans think poorly of Africa!

$A50,000 is hard to find and on top of the ongoing running costs Sarah has to raise for the care of around 500 children per year (on average every day 50 children medically under The PlasterHouse’s care).

If you could find within your heart to help Sarah, the East Malvern Australian (near saint) and qualified Occupational Therapist, then three things:

  • your donation is tax deductible and you only lose 7.5% in Aus admin costs before the balance is put directly into hospital fees.
  • you could actually go and see where your money goes, we are going back a fourth time in Jan 2019 and you’re welcome to come with us – our family and work has contributed significant amounts over 3 years AND
  • you will be making an incredible and permanent difference to another fellow human beings life. $500 dollars to fix a foot, a face or a lip for each child or give in bulk – $A50,000 and help 100 surgeries. WOW.

Want to know more?

Sarah Rejman will be coming to Australia again mid year and is happy to meet and talk to groups and individuals about what she does and how you can help.

You can book her through our office (work hours) 03 9596 8822.

The website is www.plasterhouse.org

Contact me, Mal James – 0408 107 988 or speak to my daughter Maddie James or her school friend Molly Hill, both seen below with Issa, a local Maasai.


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