As overseas buyers are retreating from the Melbourne auction market, real estate agents are bracing themselves for a surge in late-winter auctions brought about by local families wanting to upgrade. According to Hodges Beaumaris director Michael Cooney, requests for valuations and appraisals increased sharply last month.

"The appraisals have been increasing each week, and today the numbers out at open-for-inspections were double or triple what we were expecting," he said. "This is the busiest I've seen it on the long weekend."

Jenny Dwyer, an agent at Hocking Stuart Sandringham, also said that open houses are now well-attended, with local families beating overseas buyers in auction contests. James Buyer Advocates' Mal James also noted that even those beaten in auctions last year are returning to buy this year.

"The market is being driven by local buyers," James said. "Chinese buyers at the moment are very beatable and they are no longer the driver of the market. There are other drivers around now; the main driver is that people are quite positive."

The playing field is more level now, said Jelli Craig's Steven Abbott. His company has seen a steady stream of $4 million to $6 million sales in Kew, Canterbury and similar suburbs, although many buyers are also not prepared to overpay.

"Vendors have to adjust their expectations in line with the 2016 marketplace," he said. "If they do that, they're selling—and some are achieving very strong results."

Melbourne is expected to see one of its strongest June auction markets next weekend with more than 980 auctions scheduled.