Sydney's two typically hottest regions underperform at auctions

The recently fragile Sydney auction market held the line at the weekend, despite a surge in listings after the previous Saturday's Labour Day long weekend holiday.

Sydney reported a solid clearance rate of 69 per cent on Saturday, which was higher than the year-low 65.3 per cent recorded over the previous weekend but still well behind the 78.8 per cent reported over the same weekend last year.

Auction numbers were predictably higher at the weekend, with 679 auctions scheduled on Saturday which was well ahead of the previous weekend's 429 and also higher than the 649 auctioned over the same weekend last year. Auctions will rise again next weekend with well over 700 homes set to go under the hammer.

Two regions that have typically led the charge at auctions - the northern beaches and the inner west - took an uncharacteristic downwards turn in terms of clearance rates.

Sydney recorded a median auction price of $1,150,000 on Saturday, higher than the $1,080,000 reported the previous weekend but 3.9 per cent lower than the $1,196,500 recorded over the same weekend last year. A total of $310.9 million of property was reported sold at auction in Sydney at the weekend.

Low mortgage rates continue to be a driving force for the Sydney housing market with the Reserve Bank predictably deciding to keep rates on hold over October at last week's meeting. Official rates have now been on hold at the current record low of 1.5 per cent since August last year with the clear prospect that they will remain steady for the foreseeable future.

The national economy remains perplexing for policymakers despite some improvements recently in full-time jobs growth, a steady unemployment rate and a slight improvement to the federal budget bottom line.

Chronically subdued income growth and low inflation despite an improved jobs market are challenging the orthodoxy of current macroeconomic policy.

Latest national retail sales data reflects low income growth, with the ABS reporting a decline of 0.6 per cent over August seasonally adjusted, which was the sharpest monthly decline since September 2010. The August result was also the second consecutive month of falling sales for the first time since July 2011. National retail sales have now been flat or fallen over five of the past nine months.

And all states and territories recorded falls in retail sales over August, with NSW down by 0.2 per cent.

The latest weak retail sales data together with sharply lower home building approvals - and an intractably high dollar - points to an economy in need of more stimulus with predictions of higher interest rates increasingly fanciful.

Sydney's prestige inner suburbs held the market up this weekend, reporting clearly the highest clearance rates of all the regions. The city and east and the lower north led the pack with near-identical strong clearance rates of 80.3 per cent and 80 per cent respectively.

Canterbury Bankstown was next highest at 72 per cent, followed by the upper north shore 69.8 per cent, the inner west 69.6 per cent, the northern beaches well down on recent results with 67.4 per cent, the south 66.1 per cent, the north-west 65.4 per cent, the west 63.6 per cent, the central coast 60 per cent and the south-west with a low 40.7 per cent clearance rate from 27 reported auctions.

Notable sales reported at the weekend included:

The most expensive house reported sold at auction was a four-bedroom home at 7 Torrington Road, Strathfield, sold for $5.1 million by Strathfield Partners. The most affordable property reported sold at the weekend was a two-bedroom unit at 22/16 Oxford Street, Blacktown, sold for $411,000 by Laing and Simmons St George.

This story Sydney's two typically hottest regions underperform at auctions first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.