Property ‘panic buying’ at last-minute auctions

Auctions are rolling out across Melbourne as real estate agents fast-track sales campaigns and stage four restrictions kick in.

More than 60 auctions were brought forward to Wednesday night before further coronavirus restrictions began, which have forced the industry almost entirely online.

Properties are going under the hammer every day this week, including more than 130 still scheduled for Saturday, according to

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Last-minute sales on Wednesday night produced strong results across the city, including for a two-bedroom unit at 1A Elizabeth Street in Bulleen.

Phillip Webb auctioneer Anthony Webb said the property soared $171,000 above reserve to sell for $771,000 as nine bidders competed for the keys.

“It almost felt like panic buying,” Mr Webb said.

“With the uncertainty of the property market looming, the buyer indicated they were going to keep bidding almost irrespective of the price.

“The bidders seemed determined to get something before the next six weeks, which are full of uncertainty for real estate.”

A three-bedroom Reservoir house sold $42,500 above reserve at an auction held on Google Hangouts an hour before the 8pm curfew kicked in.

Ray White Preston agent Ian Dempsey said 21 Croft Street attracted seven registered bidders and 30 bids to achieve a strong $892,500 sale.

“(The buyer was) a middle-aged lady who had been looking for a while,” he said.

“She’d never done an online auction before, so I had to give her a bit of coaching.”

Mr Dempsey said a lack of available housing stock had ensured buyer demand remained high for quality properties, despite Melbourne’s escalating COVID-19 lockdowns.

He said he had notched a 100 per cent clearance for online auctions over the past three weeks.

But the stage four shutdown had already caused new appointments with prospective sellers to “pretty much stop”.

Buxton Hampton East agent Paul Sibley said his office had sold eight of 10 properties that were scheduled to go to auction this weekend.

He sealed a deal for 67A Raynes Park Road, Hampton above its price guide for $1.39m on Thursday morning.

“There might be a few selling online this Saturday that were seen enough times by buyers to be comfortable,” Mr Sibley said.

“But any new campaigns will be put on pause, as we’d be very surprised if anyone buys a property without seeing it first.”

A terrace in Ascot Vale, a Thomastown townhouse and an apartment in South Yarra’s renowned Beverley Hills building are all among properties still going under the hammer this weekend.

Online auctions and virtual inspections are permitted activities during Melbourne’s stage four lockdown.

— with Samantha Landy

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