Property sales surge as confidence returns

By Nila Sweeney

Real Estate group Ray White recorded $2.37bn in sales last month, encouraged by the government boost for first homebuyers and record low interest rates. The strong showing was 15% higher compared to a year ago, and was the group's strongest sales in 18 months.

The company also credited its new auction focus for the increase. Ray White had more than 700 auction properties for sale, taking place at 25 different locations in the second half of March.

"The property market was unexpectedly strong at this point in time and if the federal government extends the grant past 30 June this year, that would help to maintain activity at the lower to middle end of the market," said Ray White CEO for Growth Mark McLeod. "We're pleased with the clearance rate and expect more properties to sell in the weeks ahead. We've made a bold and positive statement to the marketplace and sent a clear warning shot across the bow to all competitors that auction is the way forward in 2009."

The biggest success of the auction spectacular was in NSW, where there were a total of $34m in sales from 14 auctions. Queensland was not far behind, at $28m, followed by Victoria at $9m.

McLeod said thousands of people attended the auctions, showing the immense competition in the market.

"It's a highly competitive environment and there's a sense of urgency which stimulates buyer interest and a call to action," he said.