New buyers have emerged in the market this year who weren’t there last year, perhaps assuming they’re going to find a bargain — but a litmus test is ahead.
“Many have made a decision that 2019 is the year they’ll buy,” says McGrath agent Eitan Rubinstein.
“But no-one really knows how strong the market is … February 23 is shaping as the first real test.”
CoreLogic auctions commentator Kevin Brogan agrees, though auction numbers are starting to build. There are 432 Sydney auctions scheduled for this Saturday and 629 the next.
“February 23 is the one to watch,” Mr Brogan said.
Last weekend there were 299 auctions and a 46.5 per cent clearance rate. But there’ve been too few auctions so develop a proper understanding of the state of the auction market this year.
Mr Rubinstein reports high inquiry levels at his open homes.
Apart from the properties he has scheduled to go under the hammer in Maroubra and Kingsford for February 23, he also has one lined up for next Thursday night.
But demand has been so strong for a three-bedroom top-floor apartment at 21/65 Coogee Bay Rd, Randwick with a $1.5 million price guide that he’s expecting it to sell prior.
Along with downsizers, he’s got interest from two expats.
“The weak Australian dollar is making property here more affordable for people working overseas,” Mr Rubinstein said.
The 200sqm apartment, which has only one common wall and panoramic views across Randwick and Coogee to the ocean, has a two bathrooms and double parking.
The Maroubra auctions proceeding on February 23 include a five-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a $2.1 million guide at 23 Edgar St — one of the suburb’s best streets — which is appealing to families; and a two-bedroom semi at 38 Holmes St with a $1.5 million guide that’s attracting both young couples and downsizers.
Then there’s the three-bedroom Californian bungalow at 25 Rigney Ave, Kingsford — in the same family for 70 years — where 10 siblings grew up.
The charming home is attracting the interest of plenty of new families loving the north-facing back yard. It has a $1.8 million price guide.
At the top end of town in the exclusive east, the end-of February and early March auctions are looming which are set test the market’s strength.
But the early signs are positive. Some agents are finding that properties that failed to sell at the end of last year are finding a buyer in fresh campaigns this year.
Brad Pillinger and Michael Paroulakis sold an Art Deco landmark at 39 Queen St, Woollahra, ahead of its February 25 auction for $3.55 million.
Although it was down on its $3.85 million guide, Mr Paroulakis declared it “a good result”.
“It didn’t sell last year, but this lady walked in and she was a real straight-shooter: she just fell in love with it!
“We advised our vendor to take the offer.”
Currently configured as two whole-floor two-bedoom apartments, there’s the possibility of operating a commercial premises on the lower ground: it had once been a gallery.
Mr Paroulakis also has interest in a sub-penthouse with a $4 million price guide at 11/535 New South Head Rd, Double Bay up for auction in early March.
“It’s still early, but things seem a little bit better than they were at the end of last year,” he said.