Sydney and Melbourne's auction markets have been going in different directions since the recent lockdowns started, with the latest figures showing further proof of the divergence.

Over the past weekend, 609 homes were taken to auction in Sydney and 531 in Melbourne, according to CoreLogic.

While the difference in auction volume in the two cities were not that wide, the disparity was more apparent in the clearance rates.

During the period, Sydney recorded 84% success rate while Melbourne hit a much lower clearance level of 44.5%.

The reason behind Melbourne's lacklustre clearance rate was the high levels of withdrawal.

More than 50% of the scheduled auctions in Melbourne were withdrawn over the week, dragging the preliminary clearance rate down.

Furthermore, more than half of the successful results were sold prior to the scheduled auction date.

Melbourne reported its lowest clearance rate since mid-September 2020 over the preceding weekend when it hit a final success rate at 35.9%.

CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said recent auctions results showed how Sydney have remained busy amid lockdown conditions.

"Since the week starting 28th of June, when a city-wide lockdown was in place, the auction clearance rate has averaged 75.9% through to late August," Ms Owen said.

In fact, the volume of properties clearing auction in the city averaged 474 weekly, the highest since 2015.

On the other hand, Melbourne's final clearance rate has averaged 59.4% since the onset of the lockdown.

"The low clearance rate across Melbourne is largely due the portion of properties being withdrawn from auction altogether, amid a relatively high volume of auctions scheduled before lockdowns," Ms Owen said.

From the 5th to the 22nd of August, around a third of the properties scheduled to go under the hammer in Melbourne were withdrawn.

"It is important not to dismiss the portion of auctions withdrawn as merely ‘distorting’ the clearance rate, because it does reflect a loss in demand and vendor confidence," Ms Owen said.

This substantial share of withdrawn properties could be attributed to the ban on private inspections, which the city plans to lift once it reaches its vaccination goal.  

Divergence within Sydney

Despite the stronger success rates in Sydney, not all markets within the city performed the same during the lockdowns.

In fact, the strongest auction markets were recorded in the Inner South, Ryde, and North Sydney and Hornsby regions.

On the other hand, Central Coast, South West, and Parramatta regions were on the bottom of the ladder after reporting lacklustre success rates.

These three worst-performing regions came from strong levels of auction sales prior to the lockdowns.

The lacklustre performance of Melbourne’s auction market continues to drag the overall clearance rate across all capital cities.