The Easter weekend hiatus hit the real estate auction market hard this year, with the number of houses heading under the hammer hitting a national seven-year low.
For real estate agents and vendors, it was the quietest Easter weekend since 2012, with just 378 homes taken to auction in Australia’s capital cities.
That compares to 1799 auctions nationwide at Easter 2018
In fact, in some cities, the number of scheduled auctions last weekend could be counted on little more than two hands.
There was more gloom for vendors in the sales rates, too. The preliminary clearance rate for the weekend sits at 49 per cent, just under the 52.2 per cent recording last week for 2276 auctions held across the capitals.
Unsurprisingly, Easter – along with sporting grand finals and other long weekends – is traditionally a quiet time for auctions. But CoreLogic’s head of real estate, Geoff White, said this year’s low numbers reflected the broader market.
“The reason why this Easter is quiet is simply because of the overall market and the decline in clearance rates that we’ve seen over the course of the last 12 months,” he told The New Daily.
“The volume of auctions is down week on week, so this Easter is just falling into line with what we’ve expected.”
The market was in similar doldrums in 2012, Mr White said.
“It was a cyclical thing in 2012, where the market did see a decline, growth was on the decline, so were clearance rates.”
“This time it’s somewhat different because it’s not driven by economic effects, except the cooling of the market and access to finance has been a major contributing factor.”
LJ Hooker senior auctioneer Ben Mitchell agreed there was “nothing surprising” about the low numbers.
“I’ve never called any auctions on Easter,” he told The New Daily. “It’s interesting, it’s pretty controversial because it’s a religious holiday and even if you’re not [religious], you lose that chunk of the population who is.”
This year, the lull was bolstered by Easter running into the Anzac Day holiday on Thursday.
“This year, a lot of people are having 10 days off. So they’re capitalising on that and they’re going away. I’ve got a busy weekend coming up, but my guys are very quiet – this whole two-week period has been tricky.”
Hold on to your gavels
Easter, Anzac Day and the looming federal election are contributing to ongoing uncertainty around auction numbers and clearance rates for the coming month.
While a federal election did not normally reduce auction numbers, this year would be different, Mr Mitchell said.
“Normally it’ll be busy, people just stop off before or after the auction to vote, but this year I don’t think people want to risk it. The three biggest months in real estate are March, May and November, and I think we’re in for a bumper May.
“There’s a lot of people holding off for the 18th (election day). So I think the 25th this year will be our super Saturday.”