Spring Selling Season Yet to Bloom as Vendors Sit on the Sidelines

The spring selling season is off to a slow start as some vendors sit on the sidelines partly to avoid public holiday disruptions, although activity is expected to lift over coming weeks.

The latest PropTrack Listings Report, released on Wednesday, shows the number of newly-advertised homes for sale on realestate.com.au fell by 7.5% in September.

PropTrack economist Angus Moore said Australia’s property markets experienced a slower than typical start to spring amid disruptions due to public holidays and possible signs of the start of a slowdown in activity.

Jacaranda trees blooming in front of townhouses in the Perth suburb of Subiaco

The spring selling season is off to a slow start. Picture: Getty

“After a busy first half of the year and busier-than-typical winter, property markets have had a slightly slower start to spring,” Mr Moore said.

“We did see more vendors on the sidelines in September than is normally the case for this time of year.

“The National Day of Mourning and the AFL grand final public holiday [in Victoria] likely delayed some vendors’ selling campaigns in September, with property market activity unseasonably slower than in August.”

Mr Moore said some sellers also likely delayed their campaigns until after the first weekend in October, due to a public holiday in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT.

Mr Moore said while disruptions due to public holidays likely played a part in the softer activity in the opening weeks of spring, selling conditions have moderated from very strong levels earlier in the year.

“It could be that after a very busy first half, activity is starting to slow as selling conditions have tempered, but it’s too soon to be able to draw firm conclusions.”

An aerial view of homes on the Gold Coast and the Nerang river at sunset.

Housing market activity is expected to pick up in late spring. Picture: Getty

Mr Moore said activity is expected to pick up over the next couple of months, given spring and late spring in particular typically represent the seasonal peak.

“We would expect to see activity ramp up into the busiest part of the year, as is usually the case in late spring.”

But Mr Moore said the peak in housing market activity may not be as strong as last year, when the peak was pushed back by the delayed start to the spring selling season due to Covid lockdowns in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

Nationally new listings were down 9.2% compared to September 2021.

The 2022 spring selling season is also occurring in an environment of lower buyer demand, longer sales times, falling home prices and the Reserve Bank of Australia’s rapid interest rate hikes, lifting the cash rate by 2.5 percentage points since May.

“Home prices have continued to decline in most cities after growth hit multi-decade highs in 2021 and are now down 3.4% nationally from the peak in March,” Mr Moore said.

“The RBA is likely to continue raising rates over the course of 2022, which will reduce borrowing capacities for prospective buyers and place greater downward pressure on prices in the near term.”

Fewer new listings in most capital cities

The number of newly-advertised properties for sale declined in most capital cities, although Darwin and Canberra had small increases.

Across the capital cities new listings fell by 9.3% in September compared to August, and were down 11.5% year-on-year.

“While Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra were in lockdown in September last year, property market activity in those cities had begun to ramp back up after being subdued by lockdowns in July and August,” Mr Moore explained.

“This was helped by the loosening of Covid restrictions on in-person inspections in Melbourne in September 2021.”

Change in new listings on realestate.com.au

Source: PropTrack Listings Report – September 2022
New listings month-on-month New listings year-on-year
National Down 7.5% Down 9.2%
Capital cities Down 9.3% Down 11.5%
Regional areas Down 4.7% Down 5.5%
Sydney Down 13.0% Down 18.6%
Melbourne Down 6.8% Down 12.2%
Brisbane Down 13.3% Down 6.0%
Adelaide Down 10.7% Down 15.0%
Perth Down 5.1% Down 7.1%
Hobart Down 0.7% Up 12.8%
Canberra Up 0.5% Up 11.3%
Darwin Up 2.0% Down 3.2%

Brisbane and Sydney had the largest falls in new listings last month amid the quieter start to spring. New listings were down 13.3% month-on-month in Brisbane and by 13% in Sydney.

Victoria’s four-day long weekend due to the Queen’s memorial public holiday and AFL grand final contributed to a slow start to spring in the Melbourne property market, with new listings down 6.8% month-on-month.

“Disruptions from the four-day long weekend likely account for at least part of the slower month and would have reduced listings in September as some vendors delayed their sales campaigns to avoid the four-day long weekend,” Mr Moore said.

Adelaide had a 10.7% decline in newly-advertised homes for sale in September and Perth recorded a 5.1% decline. New listings in Hobart eased 0.7%, coming off a busy August.

Darwin had a slight pick-up in activity with new listings up 2% compared to August, while in Canberra new listings were up just 0.5%.

Mr Moore said activity also slowed in regional areas, where there were 4.7% fewer new listings.

This year’s rise in listings gives buyers more choice

Despite the slow start to spring, Mr Moore noted options for buyers have improved this year.

The total number of properties listed for sale on realestate.com.au nationally was flat in September.

Mr Moore said an increase in the number of homes staying on the market offset the decline in new listings, with properties taking longer to sell and buyers having more time to choose.

The total number of properties listed for sale is up 10.8% compared to a year ago.

“We’ve continued to see choice improve through this year, as sales times have lengthened and we’ve had a very busy first half for new listings,” Mr Moore said.

“That’s helping give buyers a bit more choice and making the market a bit less competitive.”

Change in total listings on realestate.com.au

Source: PropTrack Listings Report – September 2022
Total listings month-on-month Total listings year-on-year
National 0.0% Up 10.8%
Capital cities Down 0.9% Up 14.6%
Regional areas Up 1.0% Up 6.5%
Sydney Down 2.8% Up 26.8%
Melbourne Down 0.3% Up 15.1%
Brisbane Up 0.2% Up 12.3%
Adelaide Down 2.2% Down 6.4%
Perth Down 0.8% Up 2.5%
Hobart Up 6.0% Up 72.1%
Canberra Up 2.5% Up 56.8%
Darwin Up 2.4% Up 12.0%

While many capital cities recorded a monthly decline in the total number of properties listed for sale in September, overall stock was up compared to a year ago in all cities except for Adelaide. 

Mr Moore said options for buyers in most cities have improved substantially over 2022.

“The stock of properties listed for sale in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra is above the prior decade average and the number of properties listed for sale in Hobart has surged 72.1% year-on-year.

“Adelaide is the exception, where total listings are down 6.4% year-on-year and down more than a third compared to pre-pandemic.

“The total stock of properties listed for sale remains low in regional areas but has improved in recent months.”

The overall number of homes listed for sale in regional areas rose 1% in September, the fifth consecutive monthly increase.

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