Spring selling rush will hit Sydney later than usual

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The traditional spring house-sale season will start late this year, leaving homeowners competing for an unusually sparse supply of properties and paying higher prices.

This time of the year normally sees a big jump in listing activity, but the usual flood of auctions has yet to eventuate and only a trickle of properties have gone under the hammer compared to previous years.

Yesterday marked the first “super Saturday” of auction activity, with more than 700 auctions scheduled. But auctioneers warned buyers they won’t see another day of mass sales until early November.

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Less than half that number of properties are due to go under the hammer over next week’s long weekend, while volumes during much of October will be only marginally higher, realestate.com.au data shows.

Auctioneer Damien Cooley said bidder numbers are increasing. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Director of Cooley Auctions Damien Cooley said the low supply of properties was pushing up clearance rates and helping vendors sell for well over their reserve prices in many instances.

“There’s more buyers in the market and less properties,” Mr Cooley said. “Last year you’d be up against one or two registered bidders at most auctions, now it’s averaging five. That’s helping sellers get great prices.”

CoreLogic data showed 77 per cent of Sydney auctions this week were a success, but clearance rates were as high as 85 per cent in the Hills, north shore and northern beaches.

CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said the low stock levels were accelerating price increases.

Preliminary figures showed Sydney’s median house price inched up another 1 per cent during September — the fourth consecutive month of growth since the Reserve Bank cut interest rates in June. Prices had been falling for the two years prior.

Auctioneer Rocky Bartolotto said some homeowners were waiting for the market to improve. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Auction Services director Rocky Bartolotto said the slow start to spring meant sellers stood a strong chance of selling successfully under the hammer.

Weekly auction clearance rates have hovered around the 80 per cent mark for much of September — unusually high for spring and the highest level since autumn, 2017.

Mr Bartolotto said auction numbers were down this spring because homeowners were waiting on more signs the market would improve after being spooked by the two-year downturn.

Many homeowners with plans to sell were also reluctant to list until they found their next property, which was further draining the supply of properties, he said.

“In this market, most people want to buy first and sell after because finding that next home will be a struggle, so you have a situation where no one lists because no one else is listing,” Mr Bartolotto said.

He added that the deadlock won’t break until November when those who needed to be in a new home by Christmas or the new school year would have to sell to be able to reach settlement before agents and solicitors went on end of year holidays.

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