AFTER a year of uncertainty, buyers went to the wire in 2012 with at least two substantial commercial property deals concluded on Christmas Eve, insiders say.
A burst of activity in St Kilda Road, one of Melbourne's prime office strips, during December and January saw several buildings change hands or hit the market.
Start-up syndicator Newmark Property Group finalised an $81 million transaction for 417 St Kilda Road, first mooted in September last year. Challenger's annuities fund, Challenger Life, put the building on the market in May.
Director Chris Langford confirmed investors in the group's unlisted property trust had bought the 10-storey office block that came with at least 20,000 square metres of net lettable area and major tenants Oracle and the Red Cross.
"Certain office markets are performing very well and there's strong demand," Mr Langford said.
In another deal, 332 St Kilda Road was sold by interests linked to the late property developer and philanthropist Isador Magid.
Agents Knight Frank and DTZ would not comment on the deal but sources said the seven-level building with a net lettable area of more than 5000 square metres was purchased for an undisclosed sum by a Melbourne-based private investor.
Buyers have maintained the momentum this year, Lemon Baxter director Paul O'Sullivan said.
"Demand already this year has far outstripped what I've seen in the last five years. That's going to lead to real yield compression and competition for quality assets," he said.
Two St Kilda Road buildings are undergoing due diligence and a third has come on the market.
An undisclosed party is looking at 324 St Kilda Road and further along the boulevard, APN Property Group is looking at 541 St Kilda Road, a six-storey building with more than 8000 square metres of lettable area occupied by SEEK.
Next week, Jones Lang Lasalle is expected to begin an expression of interest campaign for 432 St Kilda Road, a refurbished building with a net lettable area of 9100 square metres owned by investment and funds manager Prime Value. Also on the market is 615 St Kilda Road.
In a deal on Christmas Eve, 436 Johnston Street in Abbotsford sold for about $32 million to Prime Value, sources said. Agent Dawkins Occhiuto would not comment.
Other year end sales include:
■Hallmarc bought 14 Queens Road for $13 million through agent MP Burke Commercial.
■101 Cremorne Street in Richmond was believed to have changed hands for about $15.5 million.
■71 Moreland Road in Footscray was sold by Centuria Funds to a private investor for $14.4 million.
■The AAPT building in Burnley Street, Richmond, was believed to have sold for about $20 million.
Colliers International, which dealt with the last three sales listed, would not comment.