SYDNEY, March 23 (Reuters) – Australia’s property market is on the verge of another downturn as new social distancing measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus threaten to scuttle auction activity, data showed on Monday. Preliminary auction results showed the clearance rate slumped to 61.3% last weekend from above 70% in recent weeks. It was likely the figure would be revised lower to below 60% for the first time since mid-2019 as more data is collected, according to property consultancy CoreLogic. In another worrying sign, the auction withdrawal rate, which was averaging around 5% across Australia’s capital cities, jumped to just above 8% on Sunday. “In all likelihood we will see more vendors choosing to withdraw from the market until confidence and selling conditions improve,” CoreLogic said. Economists are predicting a 10-15% fall in prices this year as activity slows and the unemployment rate rises making fewer people eligible for new loans to buy homes. Westpac economist Matthew Hassan said auction rates were showing “a clear and fairly rapid cooling” which was consistent with “outright stalling” in price growth. The slowdown comes as the housing market was recovering from a long downturn that ended in mid-2019. The sector was… Read full this story
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