An estimated $85m worth of Canberra property went under the hammer last Saturday, making it one of the ACT’s biggest auction days on record, according to the Domain Group.

ACT auctions were set for 96 properties, and Queanbeyan auctions for 12. There were modest townhouses and large homes in prestige suburbs as well as a Lyneham three-block package. 

Domain Group claims that the previous record was last year, when 92 properties had been auctioned on a Saturday before Easter. 

Canberra hosted 28 more mid-week auctions, and two more were set for Sunday.

The ACT is seeing an increase in the popularity of auctions

Peter Walker, principal of Peter Blackshaw Real Estate Belconnen said that auctions are quickly gaining popularity as they both benefit buyers and sellers. 

“An auction is the most transparent means of negotiating for ownership of a property,” Walker said. “The great thing for the seller is the property is sold at the fall of the hammer. There’s no uncertainty about whether the sale is going to proceed.”

Director of Luton Properties Richard Luton said that auctions have become the preferred method of selling houses in all segments of the residential market. “This year we’ve had record prices and properties selling well above reserve,” he said.

Market competition is driving strong clearance rates across all types of housing. There is also strong demand for large blocks.

“Because people are seeing a surge in property values they have a sense of urgency,” Walker said. “I can see it continuing in the short term. Blocks in the new suburbs aren’t as large as the established suburbs. Anyone wanting a decent block where their kids can play in the backyard are wanting to buy them while they can still afford them.”

Many homeowners feel now is a great time to sell.

Andrew Wilson, chief economist for the Domain Group, estimates that Canberra’s listings last Saturday were worth approximately $85m.

“This year you would have thought there would be a tapering of numbers, as Easter is a month later compared to last year, but that hasn’t happened,” Wilson said. “It does characterise what a very solid market Canberra has been.”

Wilson said that 2017’s first quarter was strong. Many homeowners feel now is a good moment to sell. “There’s a sense of a rush to market, but certainly the results are there,” he said.“It’s not putting off buyers. Buyers love to see clearance rates increase and we have strong buyers. [price] growth.”

Canberra’s median house price surged 5.6% over the December quarter to $684,395, according to data from the Domain Group. Despite the strong growth, Wilson doesn’t expect Canberra’s prices to reach or surpass Sydney’s median house price of $1.1m. 

“I think prices will continue to grow but I think … you’d be very heroic to expect another very big quarter like the quarter that we’ve just had,” he said.