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The year to remember!

By Mikaela Fowler

Our results for December 2020 were fittingly as remarkable and unique as the 11 months prior, putting an exclamation mark on a record-breaking year.

In our final chapter of 2020, we wrote a total of $6.1 billion in unconditional sales in December, up a staggering 60.7 per cent on the year prior. In Australia alone, we recorded almost $4 billion in sales, up 50 per cent, with a record result in Victoria to cap off an incredible recovery given extended lockdowns across that state. New Zealand recorded its sixth consecutive record month, with $1.9 billion in sales which was 87 per cent higher than last year.

This huge increase in sales results in December occurred as the number of new listings increased by only 8 per cent on the prior year but strong buyer demand resulted in an extremely high proportion of stock being sold. This buyer activity was perhaps best evidenced by continued record high auction clearance rates and that auction prices achieved under the hammer were on average 11.24 per cent higher than the highest offer pre auction.

In terms of the full calendar year, we sold $53.8 billion of property, which was $10 billion or 23 per cent higher than our 2019 trading. All markets set record months during the year. Regional markets regularly outpaced the capital cities. All price brackets performed strongly. Investors were less active this year, reflecting softness in the inner-city rental market. However, the biggest market story of 2020 had to be New Zealand, where records kept falling as the market surged post the March/April lockdown.

So 2020 finishes with record-breaking buyer metrics, such as loan pre-approvals, open for inspection numbers, registered auction bidders, online enquiries and so on. These metrics continue to give us confidence that the current extraordinary momentum should endure well into 2021, especially as our central bank continues to forecast very low interest rates for at least the next three years.

The excitement of 2020 extended to the way our members adapted their operations in light of pandemic restrictions. Adjusting at speed while keeping our members and our clients safe was our top priority. The embrace of new technology to conduct digital inspections, auctions, and document execution ensured we put our customers in the best position to take advantage of market conditions, and it resulted in enhanced customer experiences and business efficiency. The “future” was quickly brought forward, and we are well placed for more innovation in the year ahead.

As we all desperately searched for information as to how our markets would react to the pandemic and lockdowns, we launched our “Now” platform. It generates real-time insights into the key metrics that underpin current activity, and in turn assist our customers in their decision making especially at a time when doomsday predictions from so many commentators dominated the media. Since launching in June, our weekly Now publications have been viewed 390,000 times. With our data team expanding to 23 members, our Now insights are poised to become even more valuable in 2021 and beyond.

It was also a year for the true believers of the auction method. In times of uncertainty such as what we experienced during lockdowns, we believe that buyers need to see clear evidence of other buyers and their bidding intentions in order for them to transact. So we put everything into auctions. In 2020, we scheduled a record 21,827 auctions, and on average welcomed 4.38 registered bidders per auction which was up 1.1 on 2019, and achieved an auction clearance rate of 63.2 per cent which was up 10 per cent on 2019. We are very proud that our total share of auctions across Australia grew to 29 per cent and we can confidently claim that we are the competitor creators.

The results from Loan Market in December is another promising sign for 20201. It booked a record $2.1 billion in lodgements and a massive $1.4 billion in settlements. The insights from Loan Market, especially during March and April 2020, were pivotal in building our confidence in the underlying strength of our real estate markets this year which we communicated in Ray White Now.

As an industry, we appreciate that we were much more fortunate than so many others during 2020. As our communities in Australia continue to deal with new COVID cases as the new year begins, 2020 gave us confidence that we will be able to continue to serve our customers whilst keeping them and our members safe.

Our success in 2020 was the result of the hard work and creativity from all of our members, and their determination to do everything they could for their teammates and customers during uncertain times. We are so grateful for the extraordinary leadership of our business owners in 2020 for the environment they created for all our teams to perform so brilliantly.

Dan White

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