Auction clearance rate hits 80 per cent
The weekend property auctions saw a clearance rate of 80 per cent nationally with some strong gains in many markets. The rate was 16 per cent higher than Easter weekend. Figures from Australian Property Monitors show that Sydney’s rate rebounded to 87 per cent having been down to 68 per cent last weekend after two weeks at 84 per cent. In Melbourne where the clearance two weeks ago was 75 per cent managed 77 per cent on Saturday; Brisbane cleared 42 per cent having been at 45 per cent two weekends ago; and Adelaide soared from 65 per cent two weeks ago to 79 per cent.

Lending activity flat
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal that lending activity was flat in February. The Real Estate Institute of Australia says that in trend terms the number of owner-occupied finance commitments rose by 0.2 per cent. If refinancing is excluded, in trend terms for February, the number of owner-occupied finance commitments fell by 0.2 per cent. REIA President, Neville Sanders says: “Decreases were recorded in all states and territories except for New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. New South Wales had the largest increase of 1.2 per cent. The largest decrease was recorded in the Northern Territory – down 3.0 per cent.” He believes that talk of an over-heated property market should be laid to rest from the latest data. First home buyers make up the lowest proportion of owner-occupier mortgages since May 2004 but did nudge slightly higher to 13.7 per cent (from 13.6 per cent in January.)

House building drives growth in construction industry in March
New figures show that Australia’s construction industry showed growth in March, driven by a solid increase in house building. The Australian PCI from the AI Group and Housing Industry Association shows that the industry grew by 6.2 points to reach 50.1; anything above 50 shows growth. The house building sector was up by 10.4 points to 55.8 following three months of contraction. Apartment building also increased although by a more modest 1.8 points to 54.9. HIA senior economist commented: “Residential construction is the only area of domestic demand seeing significant growth at this time. It is therefore important that new home building activity does not end up being stifled by the unhelpful policy settings in place, both for the sake of economic growth in the short term and Australia’s housing requirements over the longer term.”