Sydney auctions: buyers get upper hand as competition weakens

Bidding opened to mostly silence at Sydney auctions this weekend as buyers became increasingly reluctant to put in offers on properties.

There were nearly 240 Sydney homes scheduled to go under the hammer via online bidding platforms Saturday but just over 70 were withdrawn just before the auctions were due to start.

Early indicators suggested few of the auctions that went ahead delivered strong results for vendors.

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Home prices continued to grow despite COVID-19

Most of the auctions observed by The Daily Telegraph passed in on a vendor bid or, in some cases, without any bid.

Auctions tended to be drawn out even when bids were placed, with offers in increments of $1000, $2000 and $5000 often dominating.

12 Comin Place, Abbotsbury passed in at auction.

Auctioneers also frequently put auctions on pause as agents sought advice from vendors given lower than expected bidding.

The auctioneers were left having to pad out the auctions with small talk and descriptions of the property while they awaited directions.

Some attempted to create a sense of urgency with mixed results.

One auctioneer calling bids on a North Parramatta house frequently gestured he was about to drop the hammer only for the auction to be put on hold later on as the agents sought direction from the sellers.

67 Caddies Boulevard, Rouse Hill passed in.

It then became apparent none of the previous bids had been close to the reserve despite the auctioneer threatening to drop the gavel. The property passed in.

But there were some successes for sellers. A three-bedroom house on Park St in Epping sold for $1.32 million after going to market with a price guide of $1.15 million-$1.265 million. The property had last sold for $640,000 in 2007.

Bidding opened at $1.17 million and more than 50 bids were placed from the five active bidders, mostly in increments of $1000.

Selling agent Betty Ockerlander of McGrath-Epping said there was strong interest because the property was priced below other homes in the area.

12 Eve St, Strathfield sold for $180,000 over reserve.

Cheaper properties were generally better received, she said.

“Buyers seem to be waiting to pick up a bargain,” Ms Ockerlander said. “Whatever price (guide) is provided they want to go under, even when it’s been revised because of the dropping market.”

A two-bedroom house on Eve St in Strathfield sold for $1.18 million after a drawn out auction. Bidding opened at $950,000 and was dragged up across more than 50 offers from four bidders.

The price was $180,000 over the reserve and a big win for the sellers considering the property last sold in 1988 for $185,000, according to CoreLogic sales records.

5 Park St, Epping sold for $1.32 million.

Selling agent Vivek Tailor of Richard Matthews Real Estate said the Eve St property offered an attractive price point considering most Strathfield houses sold for upward of $2 million.

“COVID-19 has had a big impact but there are still buyers out there. Everyone coming through inspections is a genuine buyer. No one goes through the effort of attending (private) inspections if they are not serious,” Mr Tailor said.

In the Central Coast suburb of Pretty Beach a two-bedroom house on a waterfront block on Heath Rd sold for $1.065 million after attracting four registered bidders.

Selling agent Lea Turner of Ray White Killcare said the online auction went smoother than expected.

175 Heath Rd, Pretty Beach sold for $1.065 million.

“The market is actually really good for us at the moment. Out of two properties today we sold one prior and one under the hammer,” Ms Turner said.

“The key during these times is to keep a positive focus moving forward – we have to focus on what we can actually control and we’re still seeing the inquiries flow through.”

CoreLogic will release preliminary auction clearance rates for Sydney Sunday morning. The final clearance rate reported for last week’s sales was 40.3 per cent, with close to three quarters of properties withdrawn from auction.

More than 1200 homes had originally been scheduled to go under the hammer this week before Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced bans on open for inspections and on-site auctions two weeks ago.

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