Property lessons to learn from listing numbers

23rd Aug 2016By: Tim Lawless

We all know that housing market conditions are very different from region to region, with values continuing to show strong growth conditions in Sydney and Melbourne, while dwelling values are trending lower in Perth and Darwin. One of the fundamental drivers of housing market performance comes back to the balance between housing supply and demand.

All too often, we reference supply levels to the amount of new housing stock that has either been approved for construction, or recently completed. From this perspective, we are absolutely seeing a surge of apartments into inner city markets across the largest capital cities. However, another facet of housing supply relates to how many homes are currently being advertised for sale.

Listing counts

Listing counts, which typically reflect how many established homes are currently available for sale (as opposed to developer stock, or off-the-plan listings, which generally aren’t advertised for sale individually on the major real estate portals such as realestate.com.au) are also an important measure of housing supply.

The number of properties being advertised for sale provides a vital clue about the direction of housing prices. Those cities where advertised stock levels remain short are continuing to see upwards price pressures, while cities with historically high stock levels are seeing downwards pressure.

Take Sydney as a case in point. CoreLogic is currently tracking just over 18,800 listings across the metro region of Sydney. While this headline figure is approximately 4% higher than a year ago, overall stock levels remain historically low. As a comparison point, when the Sydney market was moving through a down phase between late 2010 and mid-2012, CoreLogic was tracking just over 40,000 properties on the market.

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The fact that Sydney listing numbers remains so low is one of the factors providing the upwards pressure on housing prices. Buyers simply don’t have a lot of stock to choose from, which creates urgency in the market and provides leverage to vendors when setting and negotiating their prices.

At the other end of the spectrum is a city like Darwin, where listing numbers have recently moved through historically high levels. CoreLogic is currently tracking just over 1,600 homes for sale across Darwin. Considering the past 12 months saw approximately 2,160 dwellings sold across Darwin, we can estimate there is roughly 9 months of ‘effective’ housing supply across the Darwin market.

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Watching the trend in listing numbers is an important aspect to understanding local housing market performance. Most cities are still recording a relatively low number of property advertisements compared with historic levels, however with Spring approaching, we are likely to see an upwards trend of newly advertised properties enter the market.

With transaction numbers already trending lower, this upswing in stock levels will provide a timely test of the market’s strength.