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Properties for sale surge in spring as Melbourne and ACT sellers return

By Mo Zeitouneh

Sellers in Melbourne and Canberra are making up for lost time after the return of in-person property inspections, driving a surge in new listings nationally as the spring selling season got underway.

The latest PropTrack Listings Report showed new listings of properties for sale on jumped by 22.5% across Australia in September.

With physical property inspections only resuming in Melbourne and the ACT in mid-September, economist Angus Moore said the impact will continue to be felt in October.

“We’re going to see the full effect of the change in restrictions in October,” Mr Moore said.

Sellers are returning to the market in Melbourne and Canberra after in-person inspections resumed. Picture:

Mr Moore said new listings were strong in other states in September as the spring selling season got underway.

He said the further easing of restrictions and lifting of lockdowns in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra will drive activity in the property market.

“Recently-announced roadmaps out of lockdown will help support both buyers’ and sellers’ confidence in entering the market,” he said.

“Given the relatively low level of stock currently for sale, we expect strong selling conditions to remain for at least the next few months.”

Mr Moore said the end of lockdowns will be important for property markets.

“Lockdowns have really driven the dynamics and activity in property markets through 2020 and 2021. We’ve seen them shut down repeatedly and surge out on the other side.

“What that roadmap looks like over the next few months as we come out of lockdowns and border restrictions lift will continue to matter.”

Sellers respond quickly to return of in-person inspections

Mr Moore said the easing of restrictions to allow in-person property inspections in Melbourne and to a lesser extent Canberra drove the surge in national listings in September.

“Obviously sellers were very reluctant to list their properties if no one could come and look at them so we saw almost no activity in August,” Mr Moore said.

“Now we’re seeing a surge in listings as people who hadn’t listed in August did list in the back half of September, combined with the natural strong selling season in September.”

New listings in Melbourne soared by 74.8% in September compared to August.

The Melbourne property market emerged from hibernation in September. Picture:

“The Melbourne property market well and truly emerged from hibernation in September on the back of a modest easing in restrictions, which allowed for in-person property inspections to return mid-month,” Mr Moore said.

“New listings in Melbourne were almost three times the level recorded in September last year, when the city was facing severe restrictions.”

New listings doubled in inner Melbourne in September compared to August and rose by more than 50% in all other metropolitan regions.

Mr Moore said Canberra sellers also responded quickly to the easing of restrictions on inspections, with new listings in the ACT jumping by 42.1% in September.

On-site auctions outdoors have returned in Canberra after its nine-week lockdown ended on 15 October.

The return of private inspections has boosted property listings in Canberra. Picture:

Ray White Victoria and Tasmania CEO Stephen Dullens said there had been a large increase in new listings coming to market in Melbourne in recent weeks, following the return of physical inspections.

“The last few weeks have seen strong activity from buyers and sellers as they make up for lost time post lockdown restrictions,” Mr Dullens said.

Mr Dullens said Ray White Victoria and Tasmania had its biggest September with almost 1000 sales comprising about $800 million worth of property and also recorded its strongest August, when the restrictions were even tighter.

He said it showed the underlying strength in the property market, on the back of low mortgage rates, increased household savings and families reassessing their space needs and where they want to live during COVID.

While Ray White sold 400 Melbourne properties sight unseen in August during the inspection ban, Mr Dullens said many vendors would be feeling more confident as real estate opened up further.

“As we see more restrictions relaxed, vendors are more confident, buyers are more confident, agents are more confident and we’re making up for some pent-up demand and getting back to some kind of COVID normal.”

Buyer and seller confidence is returning to the Melbourne market. Picture:

On-site auctions can resume outdoors after Melbourne’s 11-week lockdown ends on Friday.

Inspections are still limited to private one-on-one viewings of vacated properties until the next stage of Melbourne’s eased restrictions, expected in early November.

Auction numbers have also picked up with the return of private inspections, with Melbourne headed for its third Super Saturday in a row this weekend. Preliminary data shows more than 1000 auctions are expected over the following two Saturdays as well.

“As we see the return of on-street auctions and more flags and boards, the general community who are maybe not thinking about real estate all day would probably get more confidence from that,” Mr Dullens said.

The return of more traditional open homes when restrictions eased further would also help boost confidence, he said.

Mr Dullens said Melbourne’s peak selling season was likely to extend into December and the new year, as occurred after its extended lockdown last year.

“I haven’t seen anything in our data or in what our agents are telling us that’s going to be different to that this time. Certainly listings have really taken off.”

Ray White’s own data showed live listings that came to market in Victoria in September were 27.5% higher than in August, Mr Dullens said.

“If it keeps going the way it is going now, October will surpass September’s number once again. It’s a very strong trend we’re seeing,” Mr Dullens said.

New listings rise with spring selling season underway

While Sydney only emerged from its 15-week lockdown on 11 October, its new listings rose by a strong 31.6% in September.

Mr Moore said the effect of the lockdown was much smaller in Sydney than in Melbourne or Canberra, because people could still view properties.

“Sellers were less reluctant in Sydney to list than they were in Canberra and Melbourne,” he said.

Mr Moore said the start of the spring selling season was the main driver of Sydney’s sharp rise in listings in September.

New listings rose strongly in Sydney in September as the spring selling season got underway. Picture:

The rise in new listings in states and territories free of lockdowns was also due to seasonal factors.

“The increases in new listings in September were broadly consistent with the typical pick-up we see as the spring selling season gets underway,” Mr Moore said.

“It’s good news for buyers in those markets that they have a few more options available to them, particularly in some of the regional areas where supply is really tight.”

The strongest rises in new listings in regional areas were recorded in the Northern Territory (76%), Victoria (22.5%), NSW (19.2%) and Western Australia (16.4%)

New listings rose by 17.4% in Darwin. Mr Moore noted the strong growth in the Northern Territory came after weaker conditions in August, when a snap lockdown subdued activity.

Brisbane recorded an 8.4% rise in new listings of properties for sale, with strong increases in new supply in the Brisbane’s inner city and Moreton Bay – North regions.

Mr Moore said conditions continued to improve for buyers in Adelaide, with new listings rising 5.4% in September after a 37% jump in August.

He said there were also positive signs for buyers in Perth after the second consecutive month of growth in new listings, with a 3.2% monthly increase in September.

Hobart experienced its highest level of new listings in six months after a 7.3% increase in September.

Mr Dullens said there were strong market conditions throughout Tasmania.

“There are not enough homes for sale to satisfy demand and not enough homes to rent to satisfy demand,” he said.

Strong demand means buyers still face competition

Mr Moore said the increase in new listings lifted overall listings nationally by 3.1% in September, after hitting a record low in August.

“The long periods of restricted activity and lockdowns coupled with high levels of buyer demand have kept total listings at a low level,” he said.

“Available stock has been particularly low in regional areas, where total listings are nearly one third lower than their level a year ago.”

Mr Moore said the low level of total listings reflected buyers taking up existing stock already on the market and not enough new supply coming online to replace it.

That was particularly the case in regional areas, given a COVID-driven shift to the regions.

“There has been a big uptake of the available supply by people moving out there and we haven’t seen new supply come online to replace that,” he said.

Mr Moore said there continued to be high levels of buyer demand around Australia, with interest rates remaining extremely low.

“We have very strong buyer demand, and have had for much of 2021, coming into fairly limited supply, which makes conditions very attractive for sellers,” he said.

Mr Moore said the eased restrictions in Melbourne and Canberra were good news for buyers, who could look at properties in person again and had more choices after the increase in listings.

“It’s great news for buyers as it gives them more options in their search,” he said.

Mr Moore added competition will remain tight for buyers in the short term given some COVID restrictions on real estate continue until at least November.


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