The biggest auction weekend
By Roxanne James

Australia Breaks Auction Record amid Concerns of Unchecked Urban Sprawl

Melbourne staged the biggest auction weekend in the nation's history at the end of November, marking a buoyant year for the city's real estate market. The city held 1,810 auctions over the weekend of 28th-29th November, according to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV).

The weekend's property auction activity smashed the previous national record of 1,740, which was set on 25-26 October 2014. November is also set to be the biggest month in Victoria's auction history.

REIV said the state carried out 5,800 auctions, breaking the previous record set in November 2014, when more than 5,300 homes went under the hammer.

REIV chief executive Enzo Raimondo said this has been a remarkable year for the state's property sector, particularly in Melbourne.

Mr Raimondo said that more homes have gone to auction than ever before: 37,700 across the state in the year to 23 November, which is up five per cent on the same period last year.

Auctions in outer suburbs, previously the domain of private sales, have continued to grow, following a trend that began in mid-2014, according to Mr Raimondo.

"Victoria's buoyant property market has recorded solid price growth over the past year, with buyer demand and record low interest rates encouraging more vendors to sell their homes at auction," he said.

"High auction numbers are creating unparalleled opportunities for buyers, with multiple auctions held in more than 300 Melbourne suburbs over the month of November".

He added: "Melbourne property buyers are currently spoiled for choice, with high auction numbers forecast until mid-December".

With Melbourne's property market booming, buyer interest has extended to greenfield sites on the city's periphery, leading to increasing urban sprawl expanding along the undeveloped fringe at record rates.

Data just released by the National Land Survey indicates that the sales of greenfield lots in Melbourne have hit an unprecedented high, surging well past previous peaks for the city.

According to the National Land Survey Melbourne saw nearly 1,900 lot sales during each calendar month of the September quarter - a figure roughly 25% higher compared to the last cyclical high six years ago, when purchases were spurred by home ownership incentives.

There are concerns that investment is better directed to improving Melbourne's infrastructure rather than concentrating on development at the city's periphery

Carolyn Whitzman, professor of urban planning at the University of Melbourne, called for the government to place significant restrictions on the expansion of sprawl in the Victorian capital.

"A first step is to do what other cities have done: set a growth boundary and stick to it," she said. "We need to stop the speculation at the edges and fund infrastructure to keep pace with the population growth".

The Victorian government's Plan Melbourne discussion paper also seeks to mitigate sprawl expansion, proposing that established parts of the city absorb 70% of new housing needed by mid-century. According to the paper, less than a third of the 1.6 million new homes that Melbourne's growing population will require by 2051 need to be built in greenfield areas.

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