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Property market activity to pick up after seasonal fall in new real estate sale listings

By Mo Zeitouneh

New listings of properties for sale fell sharply in December due to the housing market’s typical end-of-year break, with activity expected to rebound once buyers and sellers return.

The latest PropTrack Listings Report, released on Wednesday, showed new listings nationally on declined 48.9% in December.

PropTrack economist Angus Moore said the sharp decline was consistent with the summer slowdown typically experienced in December.

“As buyers and sellers return in January, we expect to see market activity pick up,” Mr Moore said.

Market activity is tipped to pick up as buyers and sellers return in January. Picture: Getty

“Selling conditions are likely to remain strong over the next few months, however escalating COVID-19 cases across Australia may impact buyer and seller confidence.”

While measures of buyer demand remain high, Mr Moore said they began to ease towards the end of 2021, and there were record levels of new supply coming onto market in the final months of the year.

“That means that selling conditions are likely to remain strong, however may not return to the dominant levels experienced in 2021,” he said.

Despite December’s 48.9% monthly decline, new listings remained 11.3% higher than at the same time in 2020.

Newly advertised properties for sale in capital cities fell by 60.8% in December after a strong November, but were 10.4% higher than in December 2020.

Mr Moore said the 27.3% monthly decline in new listings in regional areas was a little smaller than typical for the end-of-year break.

Regionally, new listings were up 12.3% year-on-year.

November marked the peak of the spring selling season, with new listings nationally reaching their highest level since 2014, giving buyers more options.

Despite the seasonal listings slowdown in December, last week’s PropTrack Housing Market Indicators Report showed there was a surge in market activity, with more homes sold in the second-last week of December than in any other week in 2021.

Sydney and Melbourne lead drop in new listings

The nation’s largest property markets, Sydney and Melbourne, recorded the biggest declines in newly advertised homes for sale in December.

Although, Mr Moore noted both cities were coming off very high levels of new listings in November.

Sydney had a 71.8% decline in December, which Mr Moore said was broadly consistent with the typical end-of-year slowdown.

Melbourne’s 68% monthly decline was a bit larger than typical for the time of year, but again followed a record number of new listings in November, he said.

New listings fell sharply in Sydney and Melbourne in December, although selling conditions are expected to remain strong over the next few months. Picture:

Other cities also experienced sharp monthly falls in new listings in December due to the seasonal slowdown, on the back of a strong November.

New listings fell by 60% in Canberra, 59.1% in Adelaide, 47.3% in Hobart, 44% in Brisbane, 42.4% in Perth and 38.3% in Darwin.

Despite Canberra’s decline, Mr Moore said activity in the nation’s capital was a little stronger than typical for December.

“This may be because of a late, lockdown-delayed start to the spring selling season,” he explained.

Most capital cities recorded a rise in new listings compared to December 2020, apart from Melbourne (down 9.4%), Adelaide (down 11.5%) and Hobart (down 7%).

“Although new listings were 9.4% lower year-on-year in Melbourne in December 2021, new listings were particularly strong in December 2020 following the removal of COVID restrictions towards the end of the year,” Mr Moore said.

“In fact, new listings in Melbourne in December 2021 were still higher than in any December period between 2014 and 2019.”

Among regional areas, NSW and Victoria recorded the biggest monthly falls during the December slowdown. Newly-advertised properties for sale fell by 34% in regional NSW and by 28.1% in regional Victoria.

New listings declined 26% in regional Queensland and 17.1% in regional Western Australia. Regional parts of Tasmania and South Australia had the smallest monthly declines, of 14.5% and 14.9% respectively.

Mr Moore said each regional market still had more properties listed for sale in December 2021 than a year earlier, with the largest increases in regional South Australia (up 27.3%) and regional Northern Territory (up 27%).

Total stock of properties for sale remains low

With fewer new properties hitting the market in December, the total stock of homes available for sale around Australia fell 11.6% month-on-month, Mr Moore said.

The decline in total listings was larger in capital cities (down 16.5%) than in regional areas (down 5%), consistent with the typically larger end-of-year fall in new listings in the cities, he said.

“The long periods of restricted market activity due to COVID-19 lockdowns, coupled with high levels of buyer demand, mean that the total stock of properties available for sale is low compared to previous years.

“This is particularly the case regionally, where total listings are down nearly 40% from pre-pandemic levels.”

Mr Moore said buyers continued to face tough conditions in regional areas, competing for limited options amid increased demand for regional properties during the pandemic.


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