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Weak Q1 for REA Group as softness lingers

REA Group has blamed lingering housing market weakness for a decline in Q1 earnings

REA Group has blamed a first-quarter earnings decline on the lingering effects of the housing downturn, although the online advertiser expects things to improve as sellers return to the market.

Group earnings excluding joint ventures and associates fell 14 per cent to $114.9 million for the three months to September 30 as national listings decreased by 15 per cent, dragged down by a 22 per cent decline in Sydney listings and 21 per cent in Melbourne.

Revenue after broker commission dipped by 9.0 per cent to $202.3 million but the News Corp-owned entity said it had been buoyed by a recent market recovery.

"We know the buyers are back and it's only a matter of time before the sellers follow," REA chief executive Owen Wilson said.

"In September, enquiries for properties for sale on realestate.com.au increased 30 per cent year on year, while average auction clearance rates have returned to the levels we were seeing before the market correction."

Still, REA said the Australian market had not fully recovered and residential listing volumes were down 15 per cent in October, compared to a year ago, with declines of 15 per cent in Sydney and 17 per cent in Melbourne.

Price increases that took effect on July 1 are helping to offset the declines, REA Group said.

At 1030 AEDT, REA shares were down 2.8 per cent to $103.73.