Australia has distinct selling seasons in which the volume of listings and clearance rates are significantly higher than the rest of the year.
This makes timing the sale of your property a crucial decision. Get it right and you could find the right buyer and get the best possible price in a short timeframe. Mistime it and your home could get lost in a sea of listings, and spend months languishing on the market waiting for that elusive buyer.
So when should you sell your property?
Most of us would pick spring, which conventional wisdom says is the time of year to list your property. While the longer days, improved weather and gardens in full bloom bode well, our data highlights a secondary selling peak in autumn which you could consider.
Autumn presents an equally strong selling opportunity especially if you do not want to wait until spring.
Listing in spring means entering the most competitive annual cycle in the market, a time when the number of listings exceeds the number of sales. And even though there are often more buyers in the market you will be competing against a lot more listings.
"Listing in spring means entering the most competitive annual cycle in the market, a time when the number of listings exceeds the number of sales."
Let's take a closer look at what our data shows about seasonal listing activity and what this tells us about vendor behaviour throughout the year.
Seasonal listing activity
Our chart below shows listings by month as a percentage of average monthly listings.
The spring spike is clearly visible as people come out of winter hibernation in July/August/September and put their homes on the market. This activity peaks in October. Listings then fall off quite sharply as the summer holidays approach, bottoming out in the last week of December.
Activity picks up soon afterwards in January as people filter back to work and get back into decision making mode. Families need time to recover from the summer holidays and get into a new school year before thinking about moving house. The uptick in January is quite dramatic and peaks in late February/March.
Chart: Listings by month as a percentage of average monthly listings
"Listing activity picks up in January as people filter back to work and get back into decision making mode"
What about selling in summer?
Many people are distracted or away over the summer holiday period so it's probably not the greatest time to put your home on the market. If you want to take advantage of an Autumn sale, then you could use this time to get your property ready get your property ready for the market and finding the right agent.
Or even winter?
If you choose to sell your home in winter, you could find yourself walking up a steep hill. Gardens and homes generally don't look their best around this time of the year and buyers are less likely to brave the weather to attend open inspections.
An exception would be if you live somewhere like Queensland, where a mild, tropical winter can make seasonality less pronounced.
"Gardens and homes generally don't look their best in winter and buyers are less likely to brave the weather to attend open inspections."
Autumn's unique selling opportunity
Our sales and listings data highlights the significant opportunity that autumn selling presents.
Our chart shows a secondary peak for sales (grey) in March, the start of autumn. Listings (green) climb strongly in January, February and March with sales trailing the listing and subsequently peaking in March.
In spring listing volumes are greater than sales. In summer/autumn listings volumes do not exceed sales volume to the same extent. That is because there are fewer properties on the market and there is still strong demand from buyers.
Sales then peak in March, and actually exceed the number of properties being listed, which indicates that the area shaded green, which is late summer and autumn, is a great time to list, market and sell your home.
Chart: Listings vs Sales by Month
"Late summer and autumn is essentially the sweet spot when you want your property to be listed, marketed and sold"
Getting your property ready for an autumn sale
To take advantage of the autumn selling season, you need to start speaking to agents in January right after they come back from holidays.
This is a busy time of year, so you need to have a clear schedule and timeframe for every step of the sale process. It is the only way you will have time to prepare your property for sale over summer in the lead up to autumn.
Allow time to:
- Interview and choose an agent. A good real estate agent who has experience in your local area can tell you what market sentiment is like for properties like yours, and what type of sale process will be the most effective.
- Prepare your property for sale. Give your property a spruce up. A declutter, fresh coat of paint and thorough clean will do wonders, and won't break the bank. Repair anything small and obvious a buyer may notice, like faulty light switches, wobbly door hinges and old flyscreens. You should also show your outdoor areas some love. Mow the lawn, remove any weeds and give your pavers a pressure clean.
- Style and stage your property. Even though this can seem like an extravagant cost, a styled or staged home can help your property appeal to a wider market and help differentiate it from others similar homes.
- Market your property. Most agents will use a combination of channels - online, print, open house viewings and signage - to get the word out. Their fees are negotiable, and your priority should be getting value for money.
- Manage multiple offers. If there are lots of eager buyers vying for your property you will need to have a strategy for managing multiple offers. Or you could opt to take your property to auction, which does away with having to deal with offers.
"To take advantage of the autumn selling season, you need to start speaking to agents in January"
Other factors to consider
When it comes time to selling you also need to look at other market conditions. Factors such as interest rates, employment data and other macroeconomic conditions can all influence market sentiment.
The ideal scenario is to list in a seller's market where buyer demand outstrips the supply of properties on the market - autumn!
In a buyer's market the conditions are reversed, with more properties for sale than interested buyers. Homes can take longer to sell and prices tend to be softer. This is often what happens in spring, as everyone rushes to put their homes on the market.
"The ideal scenario is to list in a seller's market where buyer demand outstrips the supply of properties on the market"
You also need to bear in mind that property is a long-term investment where sales volumes, market conditions and prices are changeable. Look at the big picture before you make your decision.