Home owners feeling more optimistic about the 2024 property market are lining up to list their homes for sale, according to agents, which should help to create a more balanced property market.
The volume of properties booked to go up for sale in February and even March is impressive, agents report, thanks to increased confidence that interest rates have peaked and demand from buyers, which has returned strongly in the new year.
Even properties that didn’t manage to trade before the Christmas period are getting fresh interest from new buyers who have entered the market this year keen to transact.
Sydney agent Ben Pike of Pulse Property says that despite the increase in competition, listings that were held through to the new year have received more inquiries and offers.
“Inquiries are up, inspections are up, and interest is definitely up,” he says. “Between now and Easter, it’ll be a very busy period for listings.”
“People are trying to get in and purchase before they think prices will go up,” Pike says. “There are a lot more people looking who want to buy than people wanting to sell, so you’ll start to see more completion, and prices will increase.”
“I think people have come to terms with the fact that rates are where they are now. I don’t think people expect [them] to go up any further. If anything, they’ll stay and cut down later this year, so you’re seeing more optimism and definitely seeing more activity.”
Last year’s property market was certainly full of surprises – 2023 began with forecasts that interest rates would keep rising and house prices would keep softening.
In response, prospective sellers were understandably cautious; they held back on listing their homes for sale, and the supply of properties on the markets plunged to lows across the country. Cities like Perth and Brisbane experienced the most significant falls in listing numbers, dropping by 27.5 per cent and 22.7 per cent, respectively.
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The lack of supply – and subsequent buyer competition – was a key driver in pushing up prices in 2023.
In 2024, agents say the tides are turning as more sellers reach out to list their properties over the next few months, which will help to balance the dynamic between buyers and sellers.
Queensland-based agent Andrew Acton of Explore Property Group says the frantic nature of the 2023 market has officially begun to slow down, which has already given buyers and sellers more confidence in moving forward with transactions in 2024.
“Things will level out, and we’ll see a really nice real estate economy that we can kinda rely on a little bit more and predict a little bit more,” he says.
For many agents, the market seems to be going in the right direction. Pike and Acton don’t believe there will be many challenges moving forward unless the cash rate rises again.
Among all of them, the biggest concern is the lack of new developments to meet buyer demand, which will continue to push up prices throughout the year.
While many agents expect the supply of new property listings for sale to improve significantly over the next couple of months, certain areas remain tightly held.
Agent Peter Goulding of NG Farah focuses on Sydney’s south-east suburbs, and he believes local listing numbers have stayed the same compared to January of last year.
“I think there is still some hesitation from vendors about interest rates and that those people are nervous about trading and transacting,” he says.
Goulding says the property market used to be driven by seasons, which meant it was easier to predict the busiest and quietest times of the year.
“I don’t think we’re as focused on the timing of the year. I think people now decide when they want to buy and sell,” he says.
Acton says COVID-19 changed how people think about property and life, and they now make decisions based on their needs rather than the market.
“People no longer buy based on time but based on what stage of life they are in,” says Pike.
This positive shift in sentiment from sellers has not surprised Domain’s chief of research and economics, Dr Nicola Powell, who says Australians are usually quick to react to market conditions.
“We saw the market move into recovery over 2023 as sentiment and market conditions improved, which changed potential prospective seller sentiment,” she says.
Home owners could see many of the capital cities hitting record property prices, she says – always a strong drawcard for them to sell their homes.
“The trend we saw over spring will be echoed in autumn; improved seller confidence, more sellers opting for auctions, and more sellers continuing not withdrawing from auctions and just having confidence in their campaigns.”
Powell says the stabilising cash rate has been the boost the property market needed to secure some confidence from sellers in particular.