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Homes move but on slow burn

Cautious bidders took 90 minutes to get to a sale price at an East Doncaster auction on Saturday, giving the auctioneer and gathered spectators a dose of sunburn.

Cautious bidders took 90 minutes to get to a sale price at an East Doncaster auction on Saturday, giving the auctioneer and gathered spectators a dose of sunburn.

Barry Plant agent Spiro Drossos said the auction took so long some of the neighbours went inside to watch the racing on television, only to find the proceedings at 6 Nedlands Court still going on when they came outside again.

"From the start, it was really tough," Mr Drossos said. "We started at $1 million and the bids came in $5000s, $2500s and the occasional $10,000. I'm sunburnt today."

The reserve was $1.275 million and the four-bedroom house was sold under the hammer for $1.29 million after bidding from five parties.

"The people who started the auction were downsizing from Donvale and they ended up buying it," Mr Drossos said.

The auction clearance rate held steady at the weekend with the Real Estate Institute reporting a 71 per cent clearance rate from 910 auctions, slightly lower than Australian Property Monitor's (owned by Fairfax Media) 72 per cent from 625 results and RP Data's more bullish 74.8 per cent clearance rate from 1046 results.

Sydney's bumper run of auction clearance rates eased slightly, recording 80 per cent from 425 results, according to APM.

In Melbourne, 123 properties were sold before auction as nervous vendors took early offers rather than risk an auction. Of the 264 properties that were passed in, 143 of them did so on a vendor's bid; 136 results are yet to be reported to the REIV.

Median-price figures for the September quarter indicate a solid increase in property prices over winter and early spring.

REIV data shows the median price for a house increased 7.3 per cent to $590,000 (or 8.8 per cent seasonally adjusted to $595,000) in the past quarter and 15 per cent (14.9 per cent seasonally adjusted) for the year. Units and apartments increased by a smaller 3.8 per cent to $479,500, (or 4.8 per cent seasonally adjusted) and 9.6 per cent from September 2012.

Some of the strongest median-price growth came in the upper end of the market, where the 85th percentile rose 7.1 per cent for the quarter to $1.05 million, or 20.7 per cent for the year.

And contrary to all the buzz over the inner suburbs, the middle ring suburbs showed the greatest growth: 7.1 per cent, compared with 3 per cent closer to the city.

Families upsizing to bigger houses in the eastern suburbs are driving much of the growth.

Balwyn jumped to the top of the list with a median house price of $1.75 million, based on a 26.8 per cent increase for the quarter, followed by Brighton, where the median fell 2.6 per cent to $1.705 million.

The median house price is the middle price of all sales in a suburb or overall market. So, a fall in the number of high-end sales will drag down the median, whereas an increase in more expensive properties will result in a higher median.

Toorak, where fewer than 30 results were recorded, boasts a median of $2.39 million, a fall of 4.2 per cent for the quarter and 26.8 per cent for the year.

RT Edgar agent Glen Coutinho said a shortage of family-sized homes in the eastern suburbs was driving growth.

On Saturday, Mr Coutinho auctioned 7 Widford Street, East Hawthorn, for $2.776 million, with six bidders pushing the price $376,000 above its $2.4 million reserve.

"The underbidder then went across Anderson Park and paid $2.425 million for 28 Anderson Road. Some of the other underbidders went to 14 Cooloongatta Road in Camberwell, which then sold for $2.5 million."

"That's three $2.5 million-plus sales in an hour. Families trying to get into areas near schools are behind it. It shows some pretty good strength in the market," he said.

Next week, a staggering 1600 auctions are scheduled before the market pauses for Derby day and Cup week.

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