Prices stable on very low volume
Mainland state capitals held a seasonally-low number of auctions on the weekend, with prices rising an average of 0.1 per cent in the week to Sunday, according to RP Data's figures. Prices have not moved significantly in a month. The nation remains on pace to match last year's torrid real estate growth – up 5.1 per cent for the year, compared with 5.0 per cent year-to-date in 2013. Prices year-over-year are up 10.2 per cent in Melbourne and 15.0 per cent in Sydney. Auction clearance rates last week fell to 65.9 per cent. But the number of homes for sale are down to about 79,000 right now, compared to 90,000 last year and 125,000 in the previous year. Melbourne sold only 397 of the 738 properties at auction, while Sydney scored a 75.5 per cent clearance on its 530 auctions. Supply constraint may be a factor in the rate of price appreciation, tempering concerns about speculation driving growth. Read the full story here.

REA Group will bring in new chief early to assuage clients
REA Group will turn over the reins to realestate.com.au earlier than expected to incoming chief executive Tracey Fellows, who faces incipient rebellion from some of its customer base. Interim chief executive Peter Tonagh implemented a major change to the firm's market strategy which raised advertising prices for many real estate agencies. Fellows has decided to take over on August 20 instead of waiting until September, to mend broken relationships with clients. Unwilling to pay the additional fees, a group of agents formed Real Estate Digital Marketing Services in June to negotiate ad rates with property marketing portals. Ray White Group co-chair Brian White backs REDMS. Read the full story here.

Political donations by developers can easily work like bribes
Former NSW premier Nathan Rees writes about banning political parties from accepting donations from property developers. “The people of NSW were entitled to a planning and governance system free of innuendo and corruption,” he wrote. “Nothing corrodes public confidence more than a belief that favourable decisions can be bought. It is the definition of corruption.” Developers have more motive and opportunity for corruption than any other industry, and in the face of mounting evidence of actual corruption require additional regulation. The Independent Commission Against Corruption heard tales last week of developers handing brown paper bags full of money to election candidates in a Bentley. “It doesn’t take a genius to realise the deeply damaging nature of this image.” Read the full story here.

The home in Sydney no one will buy
It's the city'’s oldest house listing. It's been for sale for seven years in a market where the average home is listed for less than 30 days. An expert – SQM Research’s Louis Christopher – looked at the listing for the 5000sqm double-storey house with a tennis court and pool, five bedrooms and bathrooms at $4.6 million and concluded that it's been poorly priced. But seven real estate agencies have had a crack at it … and haven't been able to convince the owner to accept a reasonable offer. “Something is putting buyers off, but it’s not being advertised and hasn’t been reflected in the price,” Christopher said. Read the full story here

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