'We're seeing a return to strong levels': Sydney, Melbourne auctions at February record

24 Feb 05:30 PM
Michael Bleby, Su-Lin Tan
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Auction numbers will hit record numbers in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra this weekend as vendors throw open their doors for the first large weekend of 2017.

Sydney is on track for its biggest February ever with 950 auctions, up from 675 last weekend and up 45 per cent on the 654 on the same weekend a year ago.

Melbourne auctions will also be a February record of 1400, up from 908 last weekend and up on 1214 a year ago, figures from Fairfax Media-owned Domain Group figures show.

The three busiest suburbs for auctions nationally will all be in Melbourne: Reservoir in the northern suburbs with 28, followed by Bayside St Kilda (26) and Elwood (20), consultancy CoreLogic says.

It's logical that this weekend is strong. It marks the end of four-week sales campaigns that kicked off after the Australia Day weekend in January. But agents say the high levels of listings will continue into March, suggesting that a change is coming to the stock-starved eastern capitals.

"We're seeing a return to strong levels," said Nick Dowling, the chief executive of Jellis Craig, a real estate agency franchise in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. "Last year was often termed as lower volume, but that's coming off the back of a year or two of high volumes. We've all of a sudden stepped back into a higher volume market again."

Including Saturday, Sydney will have had 2455 auctions to date this year, 621 more than it had in the first five weeks of last year. The rising numbers will ease pressure on a real estate industry pressured by low stock levels.

"Listings are tight but not critical by any means," Ray White chairman Brian White said. "No one is saying we are in a crisis."

Rising stock numbers are also likely to bring some relief, with a slowing in price growth and lower clearance rates, Mr. Dowling said.

"From a clearance rate and price point of view, both will be tested," he said. "Not so much this weekend, but towards March when we are getting heavier volumes than this weekend."

Numbers are up across the country. Canberra's 79 auctions, up from 58 a year ago also marks a February record. Adelaide is up to 85 from 76, while Brisbane has 119, just below the 124 of a year ago.

Uncertainty about the second half of the year may be one reason prompting owners to sell now, given the talk about rising rates (even if not from the Reserve Bank of Australia, but from commercial lenders) and are putting stock on, Domain chief economist Andrew Wilson said. "There may be a sense in the market that rates are going to rise and that means a tougher environment for sellers," Dr Wilson said. "They're taking advantage of a strong early season."

Canberra owner Greg Feeney is selling his four-bedroom house at the foot of Mount Ainslie on Saturday. Mr. Feeney and his wife bought a townhouse off-plan last year but had to stay in the 242 Duffy Street home until it was complete.

"To sell in spring last year was too early for us," said Mr Feeney, a former finance department assistant secretary. "We didn't want to leave it to next spring. You've got a market that is really picking up in Canberra and very susceptible to government policy."



Read more: http://www.afr.com/real-estate/were-seeing-a-return-to-strong-levels-sydney-melbourne-auctions-at-february-record-20170224-gukkbm#ixzz4aEDXwkNP