Around half of all homes up for auction across Australia’s capital cities sold during the first quarter of 2019, with the latest CoreLogic Quarterly Auction Market Review showing a clearance rate of 49.9 per cent across the combined capitals. This is an increase of +6.6 percentage points on the December quarter results.

While clearance rates for the March quarter are on the up, they pale in comparison to the same quarter last year, when 64.6 per cent of properties across the combined capitals sold at auction.

“Auction volumes and clearance rates are mirroring the broader slowdown in property transaction and housing market conditions. Auction clearance rates over the March 2019 quarter were 14.7 percentage points lower than they were over the March 2018 quarter,” says Cameron Kusher at CoreLogic.

Across the combined capitals, 14,647 residential auctions were scheduled in the March 2019 quarter compared to 25,894 in the December 2018 quarter and 20,701 over the March quarter a year ago. “Vendors are less confident of achieving a positive result at auction, and this has further impacted auction volumes during what is traditionally a quiet start to the year.”

Sydney posted the largest improvement in auction clearance rates relative to the December quarter last year

The CoreLogic Quarterly Auction Market Review found that quarterly clearance rates increased across all capital cities except for Hobart (-5.2 percentage points) and Canberra (-1.6 percentage points). Canberra reported the most significant drop year on year, with clearance rates falling by -22.6 percentage points to 45.6 per cent in the March 2019 quarter.

Sydney vendors achieved the highest quarterly clearance rates with 53.2 per cent of the 5,278 properties for auction selling in the three months to March. This was +10.1 percentage point increase relative to the December quarter, but -10.4 percentage points lower than 12 months ago.

Melbourne remained Australia’s busiest capital city market over the March quarter, with 6,375 auctions scheduled (51.8 per cent clearance rate), down from 12,372 in the last quarter and 9,488 a year ago. Tasmania had the fewest auctions scheduled with 45 properties for sale, however it was the only capital city to report an increase in auction volumes over the past quarter.

Capital city auction clearance rate & volumes, March quarter 2019

Sydney 53.2 % (5,278 auctions)

Melbourne 51.8 % (6,375 auctions)

Brisbane 31.3 % (1,062 auctions)

Adelaide 48.8 % (933 auctions)

Perth 31.4 % (317 auctions)

Tasmania 44.8 % (45 auctions)

Canberra 45.3 % (637 auctions)

Combined capitals 49.9 % (14,647 auctions)

Sydney

Quarterly clearance rates improved across 14 out of Sydney’s 15 sub-regions, with the Central Coast the only sub-region to experience a decline in auction sales since December 2018 (-0.9 percentage points). Ryde reported the highest increase in quarterly clearance rates, with 61.9 per cent of auction properties selling, an increase of 20.7 percentage points over the past three months. Year on year, Blacktown (+ 5.7 percentage points) and Ryde (+ 8.5 percentage points) were the only sub regions with improved clearance rates.

All regions had a lower volume of auction properties in the March quarter compared to the previous quarter and the same quarter last year. The North Sydney and Hornsby region maintained its popularity as an auction hot spot, with the highest number of scheduled auctions (839) and the highest clearance rate (62.0 per cent).

The Eastern Suburbs was the next busiest region with 832 auctions taking place (56.6 per cent clearance), while the Outer West and Blue Mountains held the fewest auctions. Sellers were also least likely to secure a sale in the Outer West and Blue Mountains where the clearance rate was only 30.0 per cent over the past quarter.

Across the suburbs, Erskineville boasted the highest clearance rate at 83.3 per cent, closely followed by Cremorne (80.6 per cent), while Randwick had the highest number of scheduled auctions.

Melbourne

Melbourne quarterly clearance rates improved in all regions, with the greatest improvement occurring in the Inner East (+ 12.7 percentage points). The Inner East also had the highest clearance rate over the quarter at 57.0 per cent. At the other end of the scale, the lowest clearances rates were in the West (44.4 per cent) and the Mornington Peninsula (44.5 per cent).

Year on year, the North West suffered the biggest slump in clearance rates, dropping -23.7 percentage points since March 2018.

Auction volumes were highest in Inner Melbourne, which had 1,288 properties under the hammer over the March quarter. The Mornington Peninsula had the least activity with only 213 properties scheduled for auction in the first three months of the year.

Craigieburn and Reservoir were Melbourne’s busiest auction suburbs, with 99 scheduled auctions over the quarter. Vendors were most
successful in Hillside with a clearance rate of 75.0 per cent, Fitzroy (73.9 per cent) and Caulfield South (71.1 per cent). 

Highest number of auctions for the quarter across capital city suburbs (based on total auctions held across the suburb over the reporting period)

Melbourne: Craigieburn & Reservoir 99 

Sydney: Randwick 73 

Brisbane: Sunnybank Hills 24

Adelaide: Norwood & Adelaide 15 

Canberra: Curtin 23

Perth: Dianella & East Perth 10

Highest clearance rate for the quarter by capital city suburbs

Calculated when there have been at least 20 auction results reported over the period

Sydney: Erskineville 83.3% (captured results: 24, scheduled auctions: 24, sold: 20)

Melbourne: Hillside 75.0% (captured results: 20, scheduled auctions: 22, sold: 15)

Brisbane: Sunnybank Hills 35.0% (captured results: 20, scheduled auctions: 24, sold: 7)

Geelong records highest regional clearance rates despite declining auction volumes

The CoreLogic Quarterly Auction Review also analysed regional auction volumes and clearance rates across the Hunter, Geelong, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Wollongong. 

Quarterly auction volumes fell in all regions except for the Gold Coast, which had by far the most activity with 635 scheduled auctions (up from 616 over the last quarter). With 242 scheduled auctions, Geelong reported the biggest decline in annual auction volumes, down from 458 in the March 2018 quarter. 

Geelong recorded the highest clearance rates with 45.5 per cent of properties sold at auction, followed by the Hunter at 41.6 per cent. The Hunter experienced the biggest quarterly growth in clearance rates, with an increase of 8.7 per cent.