Storms fail to deter confident buyers

Friday night's storms in Melbourne did not put off determined property buyers, who pushed the weekend auction clearance rate to 74 per cent, the highest since the 2010 peak.

Friday night's storms in Melbourne did not put off determined property buyers, who pushed the weekend auction clearance rate to 74 per cent, the highest since the 2010 peak.

Agents report buyers are increasingly confident the market is going to remain steady and perhaps improve in the next 12 months, rather than slip backwards.

Sydney also posted another strong clearance rate: 78 per cent from 300 auctions.

The buoyant results will be one plank of the economic data the Reserve Bank of Australia will consider when it meets on interest rates on Tuesday. It is widely believed the RBA will hold the cash rate steady.

Melbourne's clearance rate was derived from 721 results. Of the 190 properties that passed in, 107 did so on a vendor's bid. Seven results have yet to be reported.

Another sign of the strengthening market was the number of properties sold before their scheduled auctions over the weekend - 113, or just more than 15 per cent of properties.

Buyers' advocate Mal James reported that 12 homes in the $1 million-plus bracket sold before auction day.

"This trend seems to be driven by buyers' fear of missing out on a good property in a rising market," Mr James said.

And in the outer-eastern suburb of Mulgrave, four out of five properties sold before their scheduled auction as first-home buyers acted swiftly to secure a property before the state government grant runs out at the end of the month.

The executor's auction of 15 Westley Street, East Hawthorn, just off the mansion row on Harcourt Street, demonstrated the market's renewed health.

The two-bedroom house was one half of a duplex, in need of serious renovation. Its adjoining neighbour, in a similar state, sold about 12 months ago for $690,000.

Woodards agent Caroline Hammill was expecting a slightly higher result this year but six bidders competed strongly and it passed its $700,000 reserve to sell for an impressive $811,000.

Woodards director John Piccolo, who conducted the auction, said the two properties presented a rare opportunity to compare like with like or "apples with apples".

"That was a 17 per cent difference in price in just over a year. At the end of 2012, I said there would be 4-6 per cent price growth this year and this result suggests I've been proven right and it might do even better," he said.

"But the price is also an indication of how rare entry-level properties, that aren't apartments, are in East Hawthorn."

There was also a bumper result in Doncaster East, where an extensively renovated, 28-year-old house at 14 Ashton Rise, behind The Pines shopping centre, sold under the hammer for $1.52 million - 26 per cent higher than its $1.2 million reserve.

Barry Plant agent Adele Kocuk said: "We thought we'd exceed the vendor's reserve, but not by that much. It was a great home and a great location."

The biggest price was achieved at 15 Fellows Street, Kew, which passed in, after bidding by two parties, for $4 million. It sold shortly afterwards, but Jellis Craig director Simon Shrimpton said both buyer and vendor would not disclose the sale price.

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