A sandstone mansion in Hunters Hill that sold for $8.5 million – $2 million above guidance – was Sydney’s highest auction price of the weekend, and its only on-site marriage proposal.
Bidding opened at $6.4 million and jumped in $100,000 increments among three parties. An inner west couple secured the five-bedroom, 1850s home originally built for Hunters Hill’s first mayor, Didier Joubert.
This property at 28 Joubert Street in Hunters Hill sold on Saturday for $2 million over the guide.  
As soon as the hammer fell, the male buyer dropped to his knee and proposed to his partner, who was still clutching the auction paddle. Having secured a house and an engagement ring within a matter of seconds, the overwhelmed girlfriend accepted the offer, much to the delight and applause of the stunned backyard onlookers.
Selling agent Nicholas McEvoy, of BresicWhitney, said the downsizing vendors were “ecstatic”.
“Houses like this are hard to anticipate,” Mr McEvoy said. “There were two very emotional – and competitive – bidders.”
The Hunters Hill sale contributed to the 67 per cent preliminary clearance of 2999 properties sent to auction across combined capitals, according to data house CoreLogic. That figure was up on last week’s 65.9 per cent.
In Sydney, the preliminary clearance rate remained stable at 68.5 per cent across 1112 properties, just two basis points down on last week’s 68.7 per cent across 1142 homes sent to auction.
In Melbourne, preliminary rates tracked slightly up, hitting 64.6 per cent compared to last week’s 64.1 per cent. The Victorian capital had the most homes sent to auction, with 1380 homes selling under the hammer, compared to the previous week’s 1309.
Brisbane clocked a preliminary clearance rate of 76.1 per cent across 178 auctions, while Adelaide recorded a preliminary clearance of 77.4 per cent across 190 properties.
In Melbourne’s Highett, a three-bedroom home sold to a young couple with plans to renovate for $1.175 million – $175,000 over reserve.
Selling agent Trevor Bowen, of Ray White, said the result showed buyer and seller expectations were aligning.
“The market is very balanced at the moment,” Mr Bowen said. “Well-presented homes with realistic vendors are achieving great results while homes that are overpriced are being punished.”
SQM Research’s Louis Christopher said that while preliminary clearance rates appeared stable, final numbers would be “significantly down”.
“There has been a large increase in the number of withdrawals and properties passed in, which will be reflected in final numbers” Mr Christopher said.
CoreLogic’s Tim Lawless said last week’s final clearance rate across combined capitals– revised down to 60.8 per cent – was the year’s lowest.
“Over the past month it’s pretty clear we have seen clearance rates fading to be consistently above average, to a little below average,” Mr Lawless said.
Mr Lawless said increased stock levels in the lead-up to Christmas meant market conditions had shifted “slightly in favour of buyers”.
Mr Christopher said buyer advantage depended on which end of the market they were shopping in.
“The top end of Sydney and Melbourne market is still going strong, but it’s the market between $1 million and $3.5 million where I see the greatest weakness,” he said.
The property expert also said “looming caution” – driven by interest rates and global uncertainty – was set to dampen the price gains of the past year, resulting in declines of between 4 and 5 per cent in Sydney and Melbourne next year. However, Mr Christopher said the dip would be temporary.
“This downturn will be a one-year wonder, and will probably come to an end when the RBA starts cutting interest rates,” he said.
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