Australia's housing market finished 2017 on a weak note

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Clearance rates across Australia’s capital cities edged higher last week, assisted in part by fewer properties being taken to auction ahead of the Christmas break.

According to CoreLogic, a preliminary combined capital city clearance rate of 64.2% was achieved last week, up marginally on the 63.1% preliminary level reported one week earlier.

Source: CoreLogic

2,865 properties nationwide went under the hammer during the week, down from 3,353 in the first full week in December.

“The number of homes taken to auction fell this week after the surge in activity recorded over the [prior month] when volumes remained consistently above the 3,000 level,” the group said.

Of those, CoreLogic received results from 2,241 auctions with 1,448 of those properties selling.

Despite the small lift in the preliminary reading, the large number of unreported results suggests there’ll be another sharp downward revision to the final reading when released on Thursday.

Previously, the 63.1% preliminary reading was revised down to a final clearance rate of 59.5%, the first sub-60% reading in close to two years. It was also well below the 71.6% clearance rate reported in the same corresponding week in 2016.

Source: CoreLogic

By individual capital, Adelaide, at 70.7%, recorded the firmest preliminary clearance during the week.

Of the larger markets, Melbourne’s figure was near unchanged week-on-week at 67.3% while Sydney’s figure rebounded to 60.8% from 58.7% a week earlier.

Final clearance rates for both cities last week stood at 65.4% and 52% respectively. For Melbourne, that was the lowest level since June last year. For Sydney, excluding a soft result in the first week of 2016, it was the weakest result since December 2012.

Given the large number of unreported auction results in both cities in the preliminary figures, those records could well go again when the final figures are released later in the week.

Of Australia’s remaining capitals, preliminary clearance rates fell in Perth, Canberra and Hobart but rose in Brisbane.

CoreLogic will release updated house price data for Australia’s five mainland state capitals later today.

Mirroring the deceleration in clearance rates, annual house price growth has slowed sharply in recent months, led primarily by a slowdown in Sydney and Melbourne.

Last week, coinciding with fresh multi-year lows in clearance rate, prices in Sydney and Melbourne both decreased.

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