Auction Markets Still Hot Despite Flood Of Listings
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Auction Markets Still Hot Despite Flood Of Listings

A sharp rise in auctions had little effect on clearance rates.

By Terry Christodoulou
Mon, May 3, 2021 10:00amGrey Clock < 1 min

This past Saturday, May 1, saw the home auction markets resume at full pace with a total of 2287 auctions reported in the nation’s auction capitals, an increase of 33.9% over the previous weekend and the highest offering since the Super Saturday of March 27.

Despite the surge in auctions, the average clearance rate held firm at 83.3%, just below the 83.4 of the previous weekend.

The Sydney auction market continues what is the strongest start to the year for the local housing market since 1989.

Reporting a clearance rate of 84.6%, Sydney fell just shy of the 85.1% recorded the previous weekend, and well above the COVID-impacted 52.4% recorded this time last year.

While Sydney’s Saturday result was the second consecutive weekend of marginally lower clearance rates, it was achieved despite a 39% increase in the number of homes offered for sale.

A total of 934 auctions were reported on Saturday, compared to the previous weekends 672, while the median price of $ 1,590,500 for houses sold at auction at the weekend was 9.7% higher than the $1,449,900 reported over the previous Saturday.

Melbourne fared similarly with the auction market recording its highest clearance rate in a month – a figure of 80.1% – up on last week’s 79.0% and well ahead of the COVID-impacted 34.7% of the same weekend last year.

The strong result comes as 1084 homes were listed for auction on Saturday, well above the 835 of the previous weekend and the 157 auctioned over the same weekend last year.

Melbourne recorded a median price of $1,001,000 for houses sold at auction on the weekend which was 2.6% higher than the $975,000 recorded over the previous weekend.



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Stronger demand in some areas is pushing unit rents up faster than houses

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Renters are returning to the apartment market, leading to higher growth in weekly rents for units than houses over the past year, according to REA data. As workers return to their corporate offices, tenants are coming back to the inner city and choosing apartment living for its affordability.

This is a reversal of the pandemic trend which saw many renters leave their inner city units to rent affordable houses on the outskirts. Working from home meant they did not have to commute to the CBD, so they moved into large houses in outer areas where they could enjoy more space and privacy.

REA Group economic analyst Megan Lieu said the return to apartment living among tenants began in late 2021, when most lockdown restrictions were lifted, and accelerated in 2022 after Australia’s international border reopened.

Following the reopening of offices and in-person work, living within close proximity to CBDs has regained importance,” Ms Lieu said.Units not only tend to be located closer to public transport and in inner city areas, but are also cheaper to rent compared to houses in similar areas. For these reasons, it is unsurprising that units, particularly those in inner city areas, are growing in popularity among renters.

But the return to work in the CBD is not the only factor driving demand for apartment rentals. Rapidly rising weekly rents for all types of property, coupled with a cost-of-living crisis created by high inflation, has forced tenants to look for cheaper accommodation. This typically means compromising on space, with many families embracing apartment living again. At the same time, a huge wave of migration led by international students has turbocharged demand for unit rentals in inner city areas, in particular, because this is where many universities are located.

But it’s not simply a demand-side equation. Lockdowns put a pause on building activity, which reduced the supply of new rental homes to the market. People had to wait longer for their new houses to be built, which meant many of them were forced to remain in rental homes longer than expected. On top of that, a chronic shortage of social housing continued to push more people into the private rental market. After the world reopened, disrupted supply chains meant the cost of building increased, the supply of materials was strained, and a shortage of labour delayed projects.

All of this has driven up rents for all types of property, and the strength of demand has allowed landlords to raise rents more than usual to help them recover the increased costs of servicing their mortgages following 13 interest rate rises since May 2022. Many applicants for rentals are also offering more rent than advertised just to secure a home, which is pushing rental values even higher.

Tenants’ reversion to preferring apartments over houses is a nationwide trend that has led to stronger rental growth for units than houses, especially in the capital cities, says Ms Lieu. “Year-on-year, national weekly house rents have increased by 10.5 percent, an increase of $55 per week,” she said.However, unit rents have increased by 17 percent, which equates to an $80 weekly increase.

The variance is greatest in the capital cities where unit rents have risen twice as fast as house rents. Sydney is the most expensive city to rent in today, according to REA data. The house rent median is $720 per week, up 10.8 percent over the past year. The apartment rental median is $650 per week, up 18.2 percent. In Brisbane, the median house rent is $600 per week, up 9.1 percent over the past year, while the median rent for units is $535 per week, up 18.9 percent. In Melbourne, the median house rent is $540 per week, up 13.7 percent, while the apartment median is $500 per week, up 16.3 percent.

In regional markets, Queensland is the most expensive place to rent either a house or an apartment. The house median rent in regional Queensland is $600 per week, up 9.1 percent year-onyear, while the apartment median rent is $525, up 16.7 percent.

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