Not even a pick-up in Melbourne auction activity and successful sales could prevent a decline in the national residential property market this week as the preliminary auction clearance rate fell to 69.4 per cent, the poorest response this year.

The Victorian capital chalked up a preliminary rate of 69.7 per cent – up from an initial rate of 68.9 per cent a week earlier – even as the number of scheduled auctions rose to 1606, the most this year.

Sydney’s preliminary rate slipped to 68.1 per cent from 69.7 per cent last week as the number of scheduled auctions rose to 1100 from 1029. The inclusion of more results in coming days will probably drag down final clearance rates, and experts suggest the level will stay low in the run-up to the May federal election.

‘‘I don’t think this slowness is to do with the election at this point, but what it means is it’s unlikely we’ll see any sudden pick-up in the lead-up to the election,’’ SQM Research managing director Louis Christopher told The Australian Financial Review yesterday. ‘‘We can see this type of languishing market last until the election now.’’

In the Mornington Peninsula, the playground of Melbourne’s wealthy, a five-bedroom family home sold at auction on Saturday for less than it could have fetched late last year.

The house on 2642 square metres at 13 Caraar Creek Lane in Mornington was passed in on a vendor bid of $10.85 million and later sold after negotiations within the $10.5 million to $11.55 million range.

It was less than the $12 million-plus figure someone had offered for the property in December, David Morrell, who represented the successful buyer, said.

‘‘We bought it in excess of $1 million less than what someone else offered prior to Christmas,’’ he said.

Selling agent Liz Todd did not dispute higher offers had been made and said the vendors had hoped to be able to get the house on Beleura Hill ready to sell in October, but had not been able to do so in time.

Some properties are still pulling strong results.

A two-bedroom townhouse in Sydney’s northern beaches, at 17/153 Garden Street, Warriewood, that exchanged hands 17 months ago for $1,112,500 sold last week before the scheduled auction for $1.55 million, reflecting a 39 per cent jump in price.

The buyers were a downsizing couple not reliant on finance and able to offer a good price early to avoid an auction, McGrath sales agent Jill Rafferty said.