Home seekers have been warned they may only have a limited window of opportunity to capitalise on lower prices before the market becomes red hot again.
Prices have been inching up since the Coalition’s surprise federal election win but property experts said the market will slam into a higher gear in the coming weeks due to a record shortage of listings and recent interest rate cuts.
The number of “fresh” listings — those advertised in the past month — is currently at the lowest level since CoreLogic records began in 2007, which is putting pressure on buyers to make higher offers for properties.
It’s a reversal from a few months ago when prices were falling and the property market was snared in a lengthy downturn that began in mid-2017.
Auction clearance rates had been as low 40 per cent in many areas over February and March but have since surged to a nearly two-year high of about 70 per cent over the winter months, with most vendors now selling at over their reserve prices.
Inquiries on NSW properties for sale on realestate.com.au have also increased 46 per cent over the past year.
And this could be just the start — realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said sellers were in a position where they could “name their price”.
“If buyers are quick, they can jump into a suburb they wouldn’t have been able to afford just 18 months ago, but it won’t be long before prices start to climb again.”
SQM Research director Louis Christopher said signs were emerging that fewer homes would be listed this spring — usually the most active time for sales each year — and this would put sellers in a position to keep upping their prices.
“Listings will increase in spring, but not by as much in previous years,” he said.
CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said recent interest rate cuts would bring more buyers into the market, especially for properties in the middle- and higher price ranges.
These properties had the biggest drops in prices when the market downturn began in 2017 and were now more sought after.
“(Pricier) housing stock generally recorded greater declines which may be offering homeowners the opportunity to upgrade into a more expensive property,” Mr Lawless said.
Ms Conisbee said buyers who began their property searches early would have an advantage.
“Buyers and sellers should start seeing the current market as an opportunity to capitalise,” she said.
“Buyers are back in a big way, but they need to act quickly before prices start increasing in spring … we saw it happen in Hobart. High demand from buyers drove prices up quickly and a lot of people missed the boat.”
Jess Yeates, 24, is currently on the hunt for her first home in the Freshwater area and said the shortage of stock was frustrating.
“I wanted to buy now because prices are much lower than they were two years ago, but there isn’t much for sale,” she said. “I’ve seen some OK properties but I’m still looking for “the one” and it’s getting harder.”