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Victoria fires up for biggest spring selling season of the decade as interstate buyers look to return

By Mo Zeitouneh

Victoria is headed to its biggest spring selling season since the turn of the decade, and it’s our battler ‘burbs poised to make the most of it.

And while the nation’s banks have predicted a home price wipe-out, a growing chorus of economists and experts are warning buyers not to set their hopes on drastic falls, with signs the market could be buoyed by former Melburnians who fled during lockdowns returning.

PropTrack figures released this week show the city’s typical home price has fallen to $838,000, about the same level it was a year ago.

Victoria is heading towards its biggest spring selling season since the turn of the decade. Meredith Wilde is selling her Footscray home at auction — pictured with kids Fergus and Charlotte and border terrier Razzle. Picture: Jason Edwards

That’s good news for buyers as we kick off the first fully-unlocked spring market since 2019, with 2990 properties slated to go under the hammer in September, and multiple Super Saturday sales events with 1000+ auctions already locked in before the end of the month, according to Real Estate Institute of Victoria figures.

Properties in Frankston North could home to the biggest results this spring, such as 18 Manna Court which heads to auction on Saturday.

That’s more than double the number of homes auctioned across the past two September’s combined, with just 63 held in 2020.

And some of the city’s most affordable markets could be home to the biggest results, with Frankston North, Rowville and Heidelberg Heights all still holding clearance rates above 90 per cent for the year so far.

Victoria’s hot and not auction suburbs.

The news isn’t so good in Watsonia, Seddon, Altona North, St Kilda and St Kilda West, which round out the state’s five least successful auction markets for the year so far, with more than four in every ten homes falling short at auction.

The ANZ have predicted an 17 per cent drop in Melbourne house prices by the end of 2023 amid rising inflation and interest rates, but REIV president Richard Simpson said buyers were getting used to a new normal and demand could be strong as buyers realise this spring was their best chance of buying a home for the next 6-12 months.

“And if you’re buying and selling in the same market you’re not going to lose out too much,” Mr Simpson said.

The Rowville market is set to see high clearance rates over the coming months, with 1/2 Reeve Place also going under the hammer this weekend.

Sellers in Heidelberg Heights are also expected achieve cracking results in spring. 2/3-5 Chauvel St is heading to auction later this month.

Ray White chief economist Nerida Conisbee said the firm, Victoria’s largest real estate agency, had been surprised to see non-Victorian buyers snap up more than one in every 12 homes they took to auction in May this year.

Ms Conisbee said interstate and offshore buyers could return this spring as more pronounced value falls in Sydney and comparatively lower prices in Melbourne made our city more attractive.

“The other thing that might happen, is people who moved interstate returning to Melbourne,” she said.

“At the time they left it felt pretty dire … but life in Melbourne does seem to be back to normal, and they may also be looking to come back, or have to come back, for work.”

Advantage Property Consulting director and buyer’s advocate Frank Valentic echoed this notion and said interstate buyers and “Aussie expats” were moving back to Victoria — with hopes of scoring a property in the first spring out of lockdown.

Also in Heidelberg Heights, 6 Thames St is for sale with a $1.7m-$1.8m price guide.

“We’re seeing an increase in interstate and regional buyers coming back to the city,” he said.

“Melbourne and Sydney also tend to be popular over the long-term and I don’t expect prices to fall as much as some of the predictions.”

He noted Toorak house price records had been cemented in the past month showing clear demand for trophy homes, adding that renovated family homes would also “continue to be star performers”.

Buyer’s advocate Emily Wallace also noted buyers had the upper hand this season and could expect more choice this spring, but advised vendors to listen to their agent — especially if they should sell before auction day.

Ms Conisbee said she expected home values would generally still continue trending down this year — an 18 per cent or worse wipe-out would be the worst in Australian history for a capital city — and was very unlikely given many positives for the economy and employment.

“I just can’t see the double-digit decline that are being predicted actually happening,” she said.


Meredith Wilde with kids Fergus, 10, and Charlotte, 8, have had their 29 Commercial Rd, Footscray, home in top shape ahead of its auction this Saturday. Picture: Jason Edwards

Spring has Meredith Wildes’ Footscray garden in bloom, and she’s hoping it will fire up bidders as it goes under the hammer today.

Ms Wildes and husband Ross bought the Victorian-era home at 29 Commercial Rd in 2015 but are selling up for a bigger garden and more space for kids Fergus, 10, and Charlotte, 8, as well as their border terrier Razzle.

“It’s a beautiful house with lots of light and has a great feel to it,” Ms Wildes said.

“But I’ll really miss the neighbours and the community. It’s been a really lovely place to live, I do a lot of gardening and so I meet a lot of neighbours while pottering away on the weekends.”

She said while she was nervous going to auction as interest rates rose and demand fell, she was still quietly confident.

“I feel like it’s balanced out a little bit,” Ms Wildes said.

“But there’s not a lot like this sort of house on the market at the moment. Regardless of the time, it’s a really lovely home and so hopefully there will be some people that want it.”

The 29 Commercial Rd home in Footscray has a $1.3m-$1.4m price guide ahead of its auction on Saturday. Picture: Jason Edwards

However, for the wider market she said she was expecting spring to be slower this year compared to when the restrictions came off the market in 2021.

“It’s not the same market as when things were really peaking. But not being in lockdown means people can get out and about and think about buying more easily.”

Jas Stephens director Tate Moore said after 15 years working in Melbourne’s inner west, the home was one of the area’s most recognised and with a location on one of the suburb’s top streets there had been strong interest in the home.

“I think the initial shock of the back-to-back interest rate rises probably spooked the majority of the market, but people now know what they are dealing with and it feels like buyer numbers are coming back into the market,” Mr Moore said.

He added there were also signs of returns from both investors and former Melburnians who had fled the state during lockdowns.


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