Property executives are watching the housing market closely as signs of weakness in listing numbers and auction volumes build and compound the effect of weak results throughout March and April.
About 1718 homes will be auctioned around the country this weekend, down from 2000 last week, driven by big falls in auction numbers in Sydney and Melbourne.
Clearance rates have fallen for three consecutive weeks, reaching 67.7 per cent nationally this week, despite the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to lower interest rates to a record low of 1.75 per cent and evidence that foreign buyers are pulling back.
“We’re at that watch-and-wait stage, where we don’t know which way it will go. All we know is that we’re working harder to get the listings ... there’s a lot of uncertainty out there,” Richardson and Wrench Sydney agent Aris Dendrinos said.
Listings around the country are 2.7 per cent lower than this time last year, with a 12.7 per cent drop in the number of homes on the market in NSW, a 2 per cent fall in Victoria and an 18 per cent drop in Canberra.
While policymakers hope that lower interest rates will spur more buyers into home ownership, reluctance among home owners to put property on the market so close to an election is keeping a lid on turnover and price growth, Mr Dendrinos said.
But equities analysts point to broader issues hampering activity within the sector, including regulatory restrictions and a tighter lending environment, which mean buyers are still facing stiffer hurdles for finance, even though borrowing costs have dropped.
And other primary indicators continue to track lower.
Housing finance figures fell during March, and CoreLogic RP Data indicates that settlement risk is steadily rising as a tidal wave of new apartments approach completion along the eastern seaboard.
Against this backdrop, agents including Mr Dendrinos are reassessing commissions to be more competitive.
Mr Dendrinos aims for a 2.2 per cent commission, which he argues has become a 2 per cent commission, with GST inclusive.