Are there any signs of the market activity starting to soften? While it’s dangerous to generalise across markets, we’ve seen a slight change in buyer activity. Our metrics for home loan pre-approvals, open home attendees, and active auction bidders have all fallen from the incredible highs of February and March. And when we look at the ratio of the number of new listings to the number of sales per month, we dropped from 92 per cent to 80 per cent. There was also a 30 per cent fall in open home attendance in April from March, to 101,000 people. It remains our duty to understand each and every buyer’s dreams and remain engaged with them to help them achieve their ambitions. It needs to be remembered that all of our metrics remain very strong on a historical basis and when we consider that the expectations of our sellers have risen during this time, these results show a market with continued momentum.
In April we helped almost 15,000 people with their property ambitions and we conducted 23,000 property appraisals. Our final trading figures came in at $6.88 billion for April 2021 across Australia and New Zealand combined. Australia alone produced $4.9 billion in sales and once again all markets lifted strongly again with no areas of weakness or subdued activity. New South Wales / Australian Capital Territory was the strongest market in the group last month with $1.88 billion in unconditional sales and, up a whopping 160 per cent year on year – which reflects the depths of the pandemic in 2020. Our April results were very strong compared to prior years, and in fact our second best month ever, despite it being a short month and it included the Easter and Anzac Day breaks. However it was 20 per cent weaker than our March results. Only a year ago we wrote $2.54 billion in sales in April.
New listings added to the market are now well above long-term average but strong demand is keeping overall advertised stock levels low. The number of fresh listings added to the housing market has shown a substantial lift relative to the past two years. We added 14 per cent of the 40,000 new residential property listings to the market nationally over the four weeks in April. Some 8,213 new listing authorities were signed by a Ray White member in April across Australia and New Zealand, a rise of 11 per cent on the same month in 2019. The rise in new listing numbers signals an improvement in seller confidence. More homeowners are taking advantage of strong selling conditions while it’s still a sellers’ market. Our total advertised stock levels are down 30 per cent on two years ago at 15,000 listings across Australia. Such low total listing numbers, at a time when new listings are above average, reflects the strength of buyer demand, fueling the current rapid rate of absorption. Ray White’s real-time data tracks all the various types of listings but new properties which came to market in the past month are the only metric to watch. There are some early signs that May is shaping up to be monster month with big volumes predicted and more than 3,500 auctions scheduled already.
During the month of April we booked 2,875 auctions (an increase of 62 per cent year on year which shows you the depths of the pandemic) and this April we accounted for 23 per cent of the total auction markets. Auction clearance rates have consistently held above 80 per cent now since the start of February and agents are also still reporting strong private treaty sales. We had five registered bidders at every Ray White auction and we had active bidding on 91 per cent of all auctions.
Timing is everything in property and finance. One of the big themes of last month was consumers getting increasingly frustrated by the banks’ slow finance application process.
Six out of 10 home loan customers in Australia now source their funding through a broker. And the fact is they should have a better experience with their application. Loan Market Executive Director Andrea McNaughton said turnaround times from the majors were leaving customers unable to compete at auction or against cash-buyers in fast-moving private treaty campaigns. The Loan Market Group’s April results and insights have never been more crucial in cementing our confidence in the direction of our real estate markets. Loan Market Group’s brokers lodged $2.4 billion in credit applications in April. And a staggering $2.1 billion was approved.