Sydney and Melbourne led a surge in auction clearance rates, despite record numbers of listings, as buyers who missed out late last year competed with a new wave of buyers.
Auctions cleared in the NSW capital jumped to a preliminary figure of 81.5 per cent from 80.6 per cent last weekend and to 80.1 per cent from 75.7 per cent in Melbourne, CoreLogic figures on Sunday showed.
Nationally, the average clearance rate lifted to 78.6 per cent from 74.9 per cent.
The first weekend since the start of the year that allowed homeowners to auction their dwellings after a traditional four-week campaign, it was a record February for listings in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
Big show, despite the rain: Auctioneer Jesse Davidson at the sale on Saturday of 5 George Street, Marrickville, which sold for $3,870,000. Fiona Morris
Some agents expect listing numbers to grow further next month, suggesting a turnaround from as recently as last month, when numbers almost half of their level a year earlier were putting the industry under pressure to cut commissions and staff.
"It is a buyer's and buyer's advocate's worst nightmare," said Melbourne buyers' advocate David Morrell. "We didn't want the market to come out this strongly. We thought sanity would rule over the Christmas break and someone would let the air out the tyres. Instead, they've pumped it up."
In Melbourne' upmarket eastern suburb of Malvern, real estate agency RT Edgar employed traffic control to manage cars and the crowd at the auction of a newly built three-level, four-bedroom townhouse.
"The intention was to slow them, but the crowd was so big – I thought about 350 people - that the guys said there were so many people and so much traffic they closed the road when I started the auction," agent Mark Wridgway said.
But the disruption didn't last long. The opening bid was $100,000 over the $4.3 million reserve and it sold after just 17 bids for $5,075,000 to a local owner-occupier – 18 per cent above reserve.
Preliminary auction results for week to 26 February, 2017. CoreLogic
"It was not even 60 seconds," Mr Wridgway said. "The auction lasted three minutes and two of those were me pleading for anyone else to bid."
In Marrickville, in Sydney's inner west, competition between developers pushed a four-bedroom home in an area zoned for redevelopment to $3.87 million, nearly double the $2.1 million reserve.
Away from Sydney and Melbourne, results were mixed.
In Canberra, the clearance rate slipped to 77 per cent from 79 per cent a week earlier on a record February number of 79 auctions, data from Fairfax Media-owned Domain Group show.
Candid camera: Traffic control was employed to manage cars at the auction of 17 Spring Road, Malvern, Victoria. Supplied
Preliminary figures from CoreLogic for the nation's capital showed the preliminary clearance rate slipped to 77.3 per cent from 80.2 per cent last weekend.
Retired public servant Greg Feeney's four-bedroom home at the foot of Mount Ainslie was passed in after a vendor's bid of $1.95 million failed to get a higher price.
"We're still in negotiation with some parties," Mr Feeney told The Australian Financial Review on Sunday. "We expect to have a sale this week."
In Brisbane, the preliminary clearance rate of 63.6 per cent, based on the results of 99 auctions reported, was well up on the 47.1 per cent figure of a week ago.
The three-level townhouse at 17 Spring Road, Malvern, Victoria, was bought by a local owner-occupier. RT Edgar Toorak
Adelaide's 76.3 per cent – on 80 reported auctions – was also higher than last week's 65.8 per cent.
Preliminary figures showed Perth's clearance rate, based on results of 14 of the scheduled 46 auctions scheduled, slipped to 21.4 per cent from 31 per cent a week earlier.