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04 Aug 2021

Sydney's red-hot housing market lights up the lockdown gloom

Sydney's red-hot housing market lights up the lockdown gloom

SYDNEY, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Crippled by its tightest lockdown since the pandemic began, Sydney's construction industry has slowed to a crawl, throwing many builders out of work, while shopping malls have shut - but the housing market has never been hotter.

That exuberance has stunned many as prices crack new records, with national home loan growth at its strongest in 2-1/2 years, compared to the gloom over Australia's economic outlook cast by Sydney's strict stay-home orders since June-end.

"The confidence in the market is very strong," said Alex Pattaro, chief auctioneer for real estate agency Ray White Australia, who conducted seven auctions on Saturday and has more lined up.

"I have five auctions this coming weekend and we're excited about them."

Among his sales last weekend was a A$3.6 million ($2.6 million) house in the city's northwest suburb of Ryde that sold at about 30% above the price guide.

Even though the coronavirus stay-home orders have forced all auctions online, 580 homes went under the hammer across Australia's largest city on Saturday, with clearance rates of about 75%.

Market players say the pandemic curbs are feeding the frenzy.

"The question is…is this possibly the best market a seller could ever take advantage of?" David Murphy, principal of his eponymous property firm, asked clients in a newsletter. "Frustrated, and greying, locked-down buyers fuelled by rosé (wine) and desperation."


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