Slowing auction rates indicate red-hot Australian housing market might be cooling down

Modern house at blue hour.
Photo by Brian Babb on Unsplash.

Alongside another unseasonable spate of rainfall, the flash-hot Australian housing sector has experienced a week of cooling off. 

According to data released this week from Corelogic, the number of homes for sale nearly 25% less than what it was this time last year. A total 1,864 auctions were held across the country’s capitals this past week, and only 55% have sold so far – the slowest sales rate since April 2020.

Last year's property boom surged house prices to record heights, but amidst turmoil from inflation and Reserve Bank rate hikes, sales rates have been falling for the last few months. The rising cost of financing a home loan could spell the slowdown experts have been predicting would arrive by 2023.

More homes available in Australian capitals might improve property prices

Collage of people in their homes comparing property prices for their home loan search.

Sydney stayed on top as the busiest market, hosting just over 40% of all Australian capital home auctions. According to preliminary data from Corelogic, 53% sold successfully, a dismal drop and the first true low since 2020. 

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s housing market nearly halved from last week, hosting just 628 auctions. Of results collected so far, 57% were successfully sold, far lower than predictions. This same time last year, 73% of auctions were successful.

Keep in mind though, more homes on the market can mean that the supply outstrips the demand. Given last year’s unpredictability, there may have been more buyers than homes available. 

Across Australia’s smaller capitals, sales rates have fallen dramatically despite ample supply. Of the specific cities, Canberra remains strong with roughly 88% of its 101 properties selling, but the others returned dwindling figures: 

  • Perth sold 50% of 10 properties.
  • Adelaide sold 71% of 108 properties. 
  • Brisbane sold 44% of 105 properties.

A lighter level of competition can mean better pricing for prospective buyers, but this is certainly troubling news for those hoping to hit the market with a sale.

What do falling sales rates mean for the housing market?

Like the rest of the economy, housing is driven by supply and demand. This week, the number of properties on the market seems to indicate we still have plenty of supply – however, the slowing sales rates tell us demand is going down.

Lacklustre demand has already slowed house prices, which Corelogic's dwelling value index falling -0.6% across capitals last month. More buyers often means intense competition and price hikes, which partially fuelled the 2021 boom, but unenthusiastic buyers means market drag.

For those hoping to break into the property market, auction rate numbers make a critical bellwether for the market with the potential to signal a market downturn.

Outlook for the Australian housing market in 2022

Collage of a man walking down a white crack in a blue field.

Predicting the rise and fall of the housing market can sometimes feel like reading a crystal ball. However, economists and housing market experts have taken stock of the trends and learned valuable lessons from 2021, with many expecting lower sales and falling property prices well into 2023.

Rising interest rates, expensive housing oversupply, and affordability constraints underpin these forecasts: with too many new properties and mortgage rate hikes limiting prospective buyers, we’re unlikely to see the sale rates that caused the 2021 Australian property boom.

Considering this week’s Corelogic report, we may already be seeing the effects of these changing market dynamics. 

In the meantime, if you’re considering investing in property, we’ve compiled a list of competition home loans on offer.

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