Property Stock Slow to Bounce Back After Holiday Season

By Louis Christopher on 6 Mar 2014
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Vendors In No Rush To Sell

Photo: Adam J.W.C.

The number of Australian residential property listings rose slightly during February, recording the most modest monthly rise during this period since January 2009.

Nationally, stock on market came to a total of 346,289 – a monthly increase of 1.3 per cent.

That said, material increases occurred in Sydney (+13.1 per cent) and Melbourne (+6.8 per cent), which is in line with the standard seasonal increases recorded in February.  

On a yearly basis, stock levels are down in most localities as can be expected, with Sydney continuing to lead the capital cities with the most substantial yearly decrease: -16.1 per cent.

“Vendors are in no rush to sell and existing stock is being absorbed at a quicker rate than usual.”

Conversely, stock levels in Darwin have risen 16.1 per cent since February 2013 – the only capital city to record a yearly increase in listings.

The count of national listings suggests a residential market that is in a moderate uptick.

Normally, listings jump in each February following its hiatus in the holiday season. However, this year there was only a modest rise in stock level.

That would suggest to me that vendors are in no rush to sell and existing stock is being absorbed at a quicker rate than usual.

Asking Prices in a Lull

Along with total listings rising by just 1.2 per cent in a month that normally sees much larger rises, there have been some interesting results during February.

Asking prices for the eight capital cities remaining unchanged for houses and rose by a mere 0.6 per cent for units.

This apparent lull in prices has meant that the 12 month change in asking prices for the nation has fallen to 6.7 per cent for houses and 4.1 per cent for units.

Looking at the capital city breakdown, the real surprise was Sydney, where asking prices for houses fell by 0.5 per cent for the month. Units rose by 0.8 per cent.

Canberra continued its market downturn as vendors reduced their asking prices once again. Houses fell by 2.8 per cent and units by another 0.8 per cent.

“…I actually don’t recall a time when there were so few properties advertised with an asking price, particularly in Sydney.”

I have been somewhat cautious of the results coming out over January and February (particularly for Sydney)  as historically, it is a time when the industry is largely in a lull due to the holiday season.

Indeed, when we look at the data I note the following:

For February 2014, 89.40 per cent of online listed properties at the national level had an advertised price. This is largely unchanged from February 2013 when 89.42 per cent of online listed properties advertised with a price tag.

Meanwhile in Sydney, just 69.35 per cent of online listed properties advertised with a price last month, which was well down from February last year, where 76.18 per cent of online listed properties were advertised with a price tag.

Based on anecdotes, I actually don’t recall a time when there were so few properties advertised with an asking price, particularly in Sydney.

To me that is actually a sign of a very hot market. Vendors, particularly in Sydney, have become reluctant to advertise a price on their property, for fear they could sell themselves short! Crazy days.

However, I’m sure that this month will bring in more normal levels as listings tend to rise at this time of year.

For those who want to see the asking prices in their local area, please click here.

About the Author

SQM Research is an independent property advisory and forecasting research house which specialises in providing accurate property related advice, research and data to financial institutions, property developers and real estate investors. It is founded and run by one of the country's most recognised and respected property analysts, Louis Christopher.

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