The spring auction season is ending with clearance rates falling despite sellers and buyers racing to get deals done before 2023 ends, in a sign that the market has started to turn towards buyers.
The urgency meant well-positioned properties changed hands at prices higher than their auction reserves, including a five-bedroom house on Sydney’s northern beaches that sold $1.5 million above its guide price.
The home at 12 Edgecliffe Esplanade, Seaforth, sold at auction for $12 million, which was the highest price in the suburb this year. The sale was handled by BresicWhitney’s Anna Chen.
The view from the Seaforth home. 
But the national preliminary clearance rate fell about 3 percentage points to 65.9 per cent – the lowest since mid-March – in a clear sign that selling conditions are swinging back towards buyers, CoreLogic’s Tim Lawless said.
“At the moment, it’s looking increasingly likely that selling conditions will continue to soften into 2024,” Mr Lawless said.
Sydney and Melbourne’s preliminary clearance rates were at below average levels despite total listings rising above the five-year average. Sydney’s preliminary clearance rate fell 30 basis points to 68.7 per cent from last week, while Melbourne fell from 68 per cent to 64.1 per cent.
While Australia’s two biggest markets were starting to soften, the smaller capital cities were still seeing strong bidder activity, according to CoreLogic data.
Adelaide and Perth were the strongest of the smaller capital city auction markets, both recording a 76.9 per cent preliminary clearance rate. Brisbane’s clearance rate, meanwhile, rose slightly from 58 per cent to 61.7 per cent on the back of 141 results collected so far, according to CoreLogic.
Ray White chief economist Nerida Conisbee also said parts of the residential market were starting to become more favourable for buyers.
“The market is definitely favouring first homebuyers. There’s a lot of the investors now that are really struggling to pay mortgages in the higher interest rate environment,” Ms Conisbee said.
“It’s harder for us to track but we’re definitely hearing of investors selling. That typically benefits first-time buyers but it doesn’t benefit renters because it will take stock off the market for renters.”
Prestige buyers’ agent David Morrell took a different view, saying the pendulum had not swung towards favouring buyers as yet as buyers and sellers were trying to secure deals before the holiday season.
Mr Morrell said buyers were still scrambling to find homes, especially with only three more weekends to go until the start of the Christmas, due to concerns about low supply next year.
“Buyers are worried that if they don’t find a property in the next two to three weeks, that it will be ‘That’s All Folks’ situation where they have to wait until the middle of the next year,” he said. “They’re not talking about interest rates, they’re worried about supply.”
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