Distractions aplenty, but buyers remain riveted by auctions

A long weekend, the NRL grand final and a harbour full of boats for the International Fleet Review were no distraction from the business of buying property.

A long weekend, the NRL grand final and a harbour full of boats for the International Fleet Review were no distraction from the business of buying property.

Sydney had a lower than usual number of auctions scheduled but still turned in a strong clearance rate, calculated by Australian Property Monitors (owned by Fairfax Media) at 82 per cent from 206 auctions.

The highest-selling property sold at auction was in the hot inner west, where a new double-storey house at 14 Melville Avenue, Strathfield, fetched $2.73 million.

Devine Real Estate agent Ray Agha said more than 200 people turned up for the auction and a dozen people registered to bid for the five-bedroom, five-bathroom house.

Bidding started at $2 million, with six parties pushing the price well above the reserve, which was believed to be about $2.3 million.

"Interest rates are at an all-time low and money is cheap," Mr Agha said.

But not all the bidding was white-hot. At Ramsgate Beach, on Botany Bay, a triple-storey beachfront property at 6 Florence Street fell just short of its $2.4 million reserve to sell for $2.3 million.

Raine & Horne Sans Souci agent Ray Fadel said "the bidding stopped at that point and the vendor made the decision to sell".

There were seven registered bidders for the house with four bidding on the day.

"Traditionally, the inner west and the inner eastern suburbs are the stronger markets because they are closer to the city but, here in St George, we offer better value," Mr Fadel said. "We're only 20 kilometres from the city but we have bigger blocks and bigger houses."

Sydney clearance rates have been stronger than in Melbourne all year, partly because of lower stock levels. Melbourne's clearance rate of 71 per cent over the weekend was derived from 712 results reported to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, although RP Data and Australian Property Monitors reported a 75 per cent clearance rate from fewer results.

David Feeney, the new Labor MP for the inner-city federal seat of Batman, was spotted among the house hunters on the weekend, at the auction for the stables of the old Northcote bakery.

While Mr Feeney kept his hands firmly in his pockets during the auction of 14-16 Eastment Street in Northcote, he confirmed he was still looking for a property in his constituency.

Mr Feeney, and other buyers, will have many more properties to choose from in the next few months. More than 1000 properties are set for auction next weekend and about 10,000 for the rest of the year.

The Eastment Street auction, conducted by Nelson Alexander's Arch Staver, yielded no bidders and was passed in on a vendor bid of $1.7 million, against a reserve of $1.895 million.