Auction competition has become stronger amid lockdowns, with the number of bidders per auction reaching its highest level this year.

In recent weekends, an average of 4.6 bidders made offers at auctions around the country, compared to an average of 3.4 over the past 12 months. The trend has been rising over the past two months after hitting a trough of 2.8 in early July.

With little stock on the market, some bidders are trying hard to buy after months of searching, while others have decided to upgrade during the enforced time at home. “People want to buy but there’s not much stock available and sellers are understandably cautious,” says economist Nerida Conisbee. “They perhaps feel it would be better to sell when restrictions are relaxed.”

Despite the economic hit from extended closure of non-essential businesses in NSW, Victoria and Canberra, and earlier lockdowns in Queensland and South Australia, the job losses are concentrated in younger workers and renters, Conisbee says. Those still working tend to save money during lockdown.

Sydney has recorded clearance rates above 80% in recent weeks as buyers can still conduct private inspections. Clearances are still high in Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide. Bidder interest is defying expectations as potential buyers re-evaluate their homes in lockdown, BresicWhitney chief auctioneer Thomas McGlynn says.