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Helping your clients manage a late-blooming spring selling season

Spring is traditionally the busiest time of year for real estate in Australia, with sales and listing volumes typically rising from September through until the Christmas holiday season. Typically, buyer demand and seller supply increase. However, the impact on prices is usually marginal.

We typically work with the clients of financial advisers. With property being one of our major asset classes, and credit central to most financial plans, a common question we have been asked is what we think spring will bring this year for home buyers and investors as we emerge from lockdown.

Here we share our views on a simmering market and provide some home-buyer and investor tips as we head towards a late-blooming spring selling season!

What history tells us

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Historically, in Australia, the warmer weather of spring not only tells us the footy finals are upon us, it also brings a rush of new listings. CoreLogic data over a 10-year period shows an uplift in new listings of 15.7 per cent through this period, and real estate agents are indicating stock has been sand-bagged through lockdown and expect an additional 10 per cent uplift in stock on the last two years as restrictions are eased, confidence is restored and active buyer numbers remain high.

Interestingly, buyer activity does not have as strong a seasonal effect, with the data telling us that buyer activity is usually up by 6 per cent through spring.

What this means for buyers is that stock is coming, and for vendors, while the rate of growth in prices may be more subdued with the increased supply, they will still get the benefit of the market uplift we have seen over the last 12 months of 18.4 per cent to August this year — a 32-year high.

Tailwinds in place

Coming into spring 2021, the majority of Australia is in lockdown, and while demand has remained high, the supply side has been down — with SQM research indicating listings were down by 26 per cent in August 2021. With the nation set to emerge from a lockdown that pressed paused on the big city markets, the tailwinds are there suggesting a late-blooming selling season, with agents planning for a short summer break as they seek to capitalise on a wave of expected sales.

  • Mortgage rates remain at record lows, with the RBA as recently as last week again indicating they will remain low in the medium term to 2024.
  • Household savings have grown.
  • Stock is set to rise.
  • International borders remain closed.
  • Targeted government fiscal stimulus.
  • Previous lockdowns have seen a robust recovery in sales volumes and vendor activity! 

Owner-occupiers — securing a property

With both first home buyers and upgraders struggling with low stock and affordability constraints, we have been providing guidance to clients:

  • Ensure your clients have a finance pre-approval in place so they know their numbers and are ready to buy.
  • Be ready for a quick turnaround. Properties are transacting at an increasingly rapid rate.
  • Consider engaging a buyer’s agent.
  • Clients need to be patient — the market is competitive.
  • Be realistic — it may be clients need to reset their target area and scope of property.
  • Maintain discipline in the market — set rules and stick to them!
  • Some are considering stepping stone to home ownership to rent where they want to live, then buy to invest where they can afford.

Investors — managing a rising market with limited stock

In contrast to owner-occupier activity, COVID brought subdued investor activity that is now bouncing back — albeit investor credit activity remains below its long-term average of total loan approvals.

  • Be clear on the strategy — what your clients want to achieve and their end goal.
  • Understand the investment approach — whether it be to live off the income, maximise equity and build a portfolio or a combination.
  • Do your homework!
    • Does the property have strong capital growth potential? 
    • Understand the region, its infrastructure and economy, tenancy rates, expected rental income, and what are comparative prices?
  • Analyse the cash flow: what can they afford and the potential costs to hold the property.
  • Not every property makes a good investment! Successful property investors do their homework and never stop researching the market to capitalise on the best opportunities across all Australia’s property markets.
  • And finally, as with investing in any asset class, critical for property investors is to remain disciplined and keep emotion to one side –— whether capitalising and selling in a rising market, getting into the market now or positioning themselves for the future. A quality asset will stand the test of time and, for most, property is a long-term investment, not bound by the short-term sentiment of market emotion.

Will we see a more equitable market as we enter 2022?

In summary, as we enter spring right now, we have a number of influences at play: 

  • The regulator is maintaining a laser-like focus on conditions and behaviours and the tightening of credit conditions being discussed.
  • Affordability constraints and low stock is impacting first-home-buyer activity.
  • Sellers are waiting for lockdowns to finish to gain a wider buying audience.

So, the last 12 months have seen demand outweighing supply, creating strong selling conditions and some urgency among buyers. It may be that a lift in supply brings a calming of the storm, a rebalancing of sorts, between sellers and buyers and a more equitable market as we enter 2022.

Anthony Landahl, managing director, Equilibria Finance

Helping your clients manage a late-blooming spring selling season
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