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VIRUS OUTBREAK

Australia home sales slump after public auctions banned

Sydney

WHAT was set to be the busiest week of the year so far for home sales in Australia has turned into a fizzer, after public auctions were banned as part of social-distancing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 3,203 properties were scheduled for auction across the combined state and territory capital cities in the week ended March 29. However, 40 per cent were pulled from the market after the ban was announced, data provider CoreLogic said in a statement on Sunday.

Of the auctions that did proceed this weekend, just 51.4 per cent of houses sold - the lowest clearance rate since June 2019, when the property market was starting to emerge from a near two-year slump.

Last Tuesday, the government banned open-house inspections and public auctions as part of more stringent measures to combat the virus.

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Individual inspections of properties are rare in Australia's major cities. Auctions, a popular way of selling properties in Australia, are often held in the front yard, attracting crowds of bidders and onlookers.

While some listings will switch to a private sale - where the buyer and seller negotiate directly - "Others will likely pull their property from the market altogether until confidence and selling conditions improve," CoreLogic said. BLOOMBERG

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