Auctioneers forecast pre-Christmas listings spike

The number of houses likely to come to auction across the nation is expected to spike in the next few weeks as time runs out ahead of Christmas, reversing a recent trend of falling supply.

A report published yesterday by SQM Research shows asking prices in the major capital cities, except for Perth and Darwin, rose last month as the number of properties put on the market dropped.

Melbourne’s median asking price jumped 13.3 per cent for houses to $792,000 and 5.4 per cent for units to $458,200 compared with the same time last year.

In Hobart, median prices for units climbed 21.7 per cent from a year earlier and house prices were up 9.8 per cent.

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The average asking price for a Sydney house now sits at $1.165 million, which SQM’s director Louis Christopher said was relatively steady.

“Vendors for now appear to have been willing sellers at these levels and have not pushed harder,” he said.

Despite the solid price rises in Sydney and Melbourne, the number of properties offered for sale has weakened even though demand among buyers has remained strong.

The number of national residential property listings fell 2.1 per cent last month to 339,922 new listings, which was down 6.5 per cent from a year earlier.

Mr Christopher said a lack of supply was responsible for the growing pressure on property prices, especially in Melbourne, where listing numbers are off by 10.4 per cent.

“The shortage of properties for sale in Melbourne and Hobart is creating upward pressure on property asking prices, while growth in asking prices has cooled slightly in Sydney,” he said.

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“Quite frankly, to see listings fall during what is normally a month that records seasonal surges is a concern.”

Raine and Horne’s auction director James Pratt said buyers had become increasingly keen as the time to settle contracts before Christmas was running out.

Mr Pratt said next weekend was about the latest that people could buy and then hope to move in before the end of the year.

“For certain buyers in the property market, a standard property contract is 42 days settlement so for people needing to buy a property this year and wanting to move into it before Christmas time is running out,” Mr Pratt said.

“If I look at the number of auctions that I have booked over the next two weeks, I think we are going to see sale numbers really pick up.

“We are seeing a lot of people who had spoken to agents now starting to convert and list their properties for sale so I think we are going to see some big numbers coming up.

“That sense of urgency has kicked in and people are realising if they don’t buy now then they can’t settle until after the New Year and no one really wants to move house during that time.”

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Mr Pratt said an increasing number of “upgraders” were becoming evident in the major markets, especially in Sydney, and were looking at properties priced above $3m.

“We are seeing a lot of people who sold their house six months ago. They’ve waited and they’re cashed up and now starting to look around in that multi-million dollar bracket,” he said.

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