Clearance rates across capital cities rose during the first quarter, with Sydney posting the highest quarterly clearance rates, according to the latest CoreLogic Quarterly Auction Market Review.

Nearly half of all homes up for auction in the capitals were sold during the period, showing a clearance rate of 49.9%. This marks an increase of 6.6 percentage points over the December quarter results. However, figures are lower than the clearance rate of 64.6% logged at the same time in 2018.

“Auction volumes and clearance rates are mirroring the broader slowdown in property transaction and housing market conditions. Auction clearance rates over the March 2019 quarter were 14.7 percentage points lower than they were over the March 2018 quarter,” said Cameron Kusher, CoreLogic’s research analyst.

Quarterly clearance rates climbed in all capital cities except for Hobart (-5.2 percentage points) and Canberra (-1.6 percentage points). Canberra reported the most significant decline year-over-year, with clearance rates dropping by 22.6 percentage points to 45.6% in the March quarter.

The report revealed that Sydney had the largest improvement in auction clearance rates. Vendors in New South Wales’ capital achieved the highest quarterly clearance rates, with 53.2% of the 5,278 properties for auction selling in the three months to March. The clearance rate is up by 10.1 percentage point relative to the December quarter, but down by 10.4 percentage points compared to the past year.  

Melbourne, meanwhile, was still Australia’s busiest capital city market over the March quarter. There were 6,375 auctions scheduled (51.8% clearance rate) in the city—down from 12,372 in the last quarter and 9,488 a year ago.

While Tasmania had the fewest auctions scheduled with 45 properties for sale, it was the only capital city to report an increase in auction volumes over the past quarter.

Across the combined capitals, 14,647 residential auctions were scheduled in the March quarter. This is much lower than the 25,894 in the December quarter and 20,701 over the March quarter a year ago.

“Vendors are less confident of achieving a positive result at auction, and this has further impacted auction volumes during what is traditionally a quiet start to the year,” Kusher said.