Declining residential property auction clearance rates are the result of a surge in the number of auctions, rather than a fall in the number of sales, according to industry analysts CoreLogic RP Data.
The property market research firm's head of research, Tim Lawless, said on Thursday that auction clearance rates in the key markets of Sydney and Melbourne have been heading lower, with Sydney's falling to a two and a half year low of just 58.4 per cent last week.
But Mr Lawless warned that the low clearance rates - the proportion of auctions leading to a sale - are down, the supply of properties coming onto the market has risen.
"Over the first 10 weeks of spring we have recorded 25,727 auctions which is 3,138 more auctions that at the same last year and 22 per cent higher than the 10 weeks leading up to spring," he said.
"With auction volumes higher, even though the clearance rate is moderating, the raw number of successful auctions has held reasonably firm."
The figures used by Mr Lawless apply to the spring season so far, but the latest weekly numbers suggest that, although Melbourne is holding firm, cracks are appearing in Sydney's market.
The CoreLogic RP Data figures show that Melbourne had 1,204 auctions last week, up from 1,139 in the corresponding week of last year.
Melbourne's clearance rate last week was higher as well, at 69 per cent compared with 65.5 per cent a year ago, meaning the number of homes sold in Melbourne last week was about 11 per cent higher than a year ago.
But Sydney is a different story based on the latest weekly data.
The latest round of auctions numbered 1,248, very close to the 1,259 auctions in the same week of last year.
However Sydney's auction clearance rate last week was well down on last year, at 58.4 per cent compared with 68.1 per cent.
Put those two numbers together, and it appears that the calls of "going once, going twice, sold!" last week were about 15 per cent lower than a year earlier.