Melbourne turned in a strong auction clearance rate of 73 per cent on the weekend and Sydney's burgeoning market posted a boom-time 79 per cent as buyers shrugged off any concerns about the economy, employment or the election.
Low interest rates and steady employment are driving a confident return to the property market after more than two years in the doldrums.
Figures from the Real Institute of Victoria show Melbourne has averaged a 70 per cent clearance rate for the past month and in Sydney Australian Property Monitors data reveals an average 75 per cent rate.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria recorded its clearance rate from 617 auctions results. A further 33 results are outstanding but should not affect the final clearance rate by much. Last week's 72 per cent was revised to 70 per cent after more results were reported midweek.
In Melbourne, a grand two-storey Victorian at 12 Grandview Grove in East Prahran fetched the highest price, after auction, about $4.7 million, through RT Edgar. After desultory bidding by two parties, it was passed in at $4.62 million
Buyer advocate David Morrell said the mood at the top end was cautious, but there was plenty of activity around $1.5 million.
Unrenovated houses in the inner suburbs proved very popular. The "blue houses", a pair of terraces at 55-57 Faraday Street, Carlton, sold for $1.8 million with six bidders.
The houses had been in the one family for more than 40 years and needed substantial work. The buyers, who have family close by in the area, entered the auction at the last minute and well past the house's $1.5 million reserve.
Nelson Alexander director Arch Staver said the market has proved stronger than anticipated with unexpected buyers emerging.
"Sentiment is pretty strong. People are doing things like buying the house next door. You've got to be pretty confident to make those kinds of decisions," Mr Staver said.
Biggin & Scott director Russell Cambridge also noted the presence of unexpected buyers at the auction of 80 Lyndhurst Street, Richmond. "There were seven bidders. We only knew three of them and only two of them ended up bidding," he said.
A young woman beat the other six, paying $1.405 million for the house, which has views of the Dandenongs from an elevated 384-square-metre corner block.
The deceased estate had 14 beneficiaries.
"We were thinking it would sell for about $1.1 million, but I didn't want to lock them into a reserve and as it turned out, we just sailed past that price," Mr Cambridge said.
The auction started at $1 million and did not miss a beat.
Mr Cambridge said he thought prices had risen about 5 per cent in the past few weeks, driven more by owners than investors.
"Ten years ago, it was 50-50 in Richmond but it's now more 70 per cent home owners," he said. "The only part of the market that's struggling is the newish apartments."
Hocking Stuart director Rob Elsom said investors, shying away from apartments and the low end of the market, were looking for good yields from houses in the $700,000 to $800,000 market. "They are wary of buying into the volatile apartment market," Mr Elsom said.
His group also got a good result with an unrenovated 1920s property at 20 Beaver Street, East Malvern, which sold for $2.26 million, well past its reserve of $1.85 million.
In the outer eastern suburbs, the first home buyer market is strengthening as the June 30 deadline for the first home buyer grant on existing properties starts to loom.
Carter Real Estate agent William Lyall sold a post-war weatherboard house at 15 Heywood Street, Ringwood, for $525,000.
"It was an exceptional result. We had a reserve of $450,000 and there were five bidders. The ultimate buyer was a first home buyer," Mr Lyall said. "In the past 10 to 14 days we've seen a number of first home buyers wanting to buy before the end of the financial year," he said.
"There seems to be a reasonable expectation of stable employment for people. They're fairly confident and not just the younger buyers, but the older more mature ones as well."
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