The Barry Plant Teddy Bear Trick

By Cate Bakos on 24 Sep 2013
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On Saturday, a wonderful client had me bid on a house at 1/1 Westwood Drive, Bulleen.

This house wasn’t just a house – it ticked every box on the criteria checklist for my client’s home. From the dual living areas to the updated kitchen, from the open fireplace feature to the yard for her little boy to play… it had it all.

We had been searching for exactly three months and one week and this property completely made the grade. The only catch was that in a sea of interested buyers, I had to buy it, and at a fair price.

The Auction Warm Up

In Barry Plant fashion, the red carpet was rolled out and the lollies and complimentary water bottles were handed to buyers as they arrived.

The sun was shining and the house and yard was brimming with people… but none were showing any signs of bidding.

As a trained bidder, I know what behaviours and body language to spot when I see prospective bidders. Just as I was starting to relax, a guy pulled up in his red Alfa.

“We had been searching for exactly three months and one week and this property completely made the grade.”

My client’s heart fell. I wandered over to the agent, who at this stage I had built up a good rapport with. I asked him who this Alfa-man was. I was told that he was the front-runner, but he had possibly been enticed by another property that had just hit the market.

Did that mean he was bidding? Or was he bidding to a more reasonable limit? I would have to work that out for myself. His body language signalled that he was only there to watch.

How I Analysed The Bidders

As the clock approached 11am, I singled out the three other bidders and found my place on an elevated patch of lawn on the nature strip.

The most obvious of each of the three bidders was pacing, folding and unfolding his arms, checking his watch and holding one elbow so tight I could see his white knuckles. 

My buyer stood close to me and I could sense her anxiety. This house represented everything to her and she was understandably nervous. I had to channel my focus and make sure I tactically bid so that she had every chance of buying within her budget.

Mark Di Guilio started his precaution amble and surprised me with a Bulleen fact. Did we know that Bulleen is such a tiny suburb that it only has five thousand houses, while neighbouring Doncaster and Doncaster East have 60,000 and 90,000 respectively?

And why do people ask “Bulleen? Where is that?”, when Bulleen is just 12km from the city? With the arterial only two minutes’ away and Northland within a short distance, Bulleen deserves to be more recognised.

How The Auction Kicked Off

The bidding kicked off at the quote price ($570,000) and Mark called for $20,000 increments. By the mid-sixes, four bidders had shown their hand, but the property was still not at reserve.

The agents referred inside to chat with their vendors and my buyer asked me if I thought we had a chance. I did feel confident.  The bidding had slowed and our nervous-knuckles guy seemed edgy.

I chimed in at $655,000 once bidding recommenced, and the property was promptly placed on the market. The nervous-knuckles guy was out at $680,000 and it was just down to us and one other… Which is when things got cute.

The Barry Plant Teddy Bear Trick

The Barry Plant boys interrupted the auction to get “the bear”. My buyer was handed a mid-size teddy bear wearing the Barry Plant jersey and from that moment the mere thought of handing over the bear to the competing bidder would have ramped up any emotional bidder’s willingness to blow the budget and hold the winning position.

It was a clever tactic, because it’s a primal sense for any of us if something we are physically holding is under threat of being taken away from us.

I bid slowly and carefully in $1000 increments. My decision for such a tactic was determined by my competitor’s level of discomfort with each bid. In every round, the auction closing call seemed to pain her.

The Final Result

The hammer finally fell on our bid after several drawn out closers, and my lovely buyer proudly handed the bear to her son.

The neighbours came over to greet her and welcome her into the street and the vendors kindly offered their new trampoline to her little boy as part of the chattels.

The agents joked that we’d finish signing the contracts only to find a pot of bolognaise and a bag of lemons on the front porch. It was indeed a special auction. Sometimes it’s about more than the house – and in this case the warm neighbourhood was a superb bonus.

For more information about Bulleen, read our suburb profile here

Points of Interest in Bulleen, Postcode 3105

Bulleen Heights School
Marcellin College
Bulleen Plaza Shopping Centre
Bulleen Library
Manningham City Council

About the Author

Cate Bakos is an independent buyers advocate and qualified property investment advisor and has proudly been a property investor for 17 years. Cate has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry (Hons), Certificate 4 in Property Services (Real Estate), a Certificate 4 in Financial Services (Mortgage Broking). She is also a licensed real estate and a Qualified Property Investment Advisor accredited by Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA).

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