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Selling in winter: a golden opportunity

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Real estate is a strangely seasonal business in Australia, and that may work against sellers who blindly follow those trends. 

The mythical spring selling season draws a huge influx of listings at a time when there isn't necessarily going to be the same surge in buyer activity. Winter, on the other hand, tips the supply-and-demand scales in favour of sellers. 

Find out why agents around the country prefer winter selling and what data backs them up.

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Buyer demand typically outweighs supply in the colder months

Put simply, supply and demand is always going to be a foundational factor driving the housing market. 

In 2021 we saw just how powerful the equation can be. Persistently low listings were met with feverish demand, and it resulted in one of the biggest housing booms Australia has ever seen. 

It stands to reason, then, that sellers looking to achieve a top price would want to list at a time when there's less stock on the market but demand remains strong. 

Looking at data from REA Group from 2018 to 2021, there were on average 17 per cent fewer listings from June to August than there were in September to November. 

That indicates that stock on the market is significantly lower in winter than in spring. 

In 2021, winter listings were -14 per cent lower than in spring according to REA's statistics. By comparison, CoreLogic data shows that the number of sales in winter was only -8 per cent lower than in spring. 

While it's important to note that the two data sources do have their differences, if listings fall by -14 per cent but sales only drop by -8 per cent, it does paint the picture of winter being a stronger market than spring for sellers. 

As Max Klimenko of Ray White Touma Group in Redfern pointed out, "buyers aren't seasonal. 

"Buyers look at buying properties in any season. We know in spring and summer we tend to have a lot more properties on the market, so the buyer pool tends to dilute."

Plenty of agents advise selling in winter to achieve top results

For many agents, winter presents a golden opportunity to beat the spring rush and secure an excellent sale price. 

Daniel Ellem, Illawarra Estate Agents' sales manager, said that many sellers have the mindset that listing in the warmer months is the way to go. The problem is, that everybody has the same idea, and that creates unnecessary competition between vendors. 

"I've been doing this for 15 years now and my best results have always been in winter," he explained.

"In winter there aren't many properties on the market, so your buyers are fighting over what is available and they get good results."

Belle Property Bulimba's Tony O'Doherty felt the same way. "Since the start of my career, I've been saying to my sellers 'why are you waiting for the oversupply to hit?'," he said. 

"It's almost as though people forget the supply and demand rule. If I'm a vendor I want to be on the market in July, before everybody else."

"Buyers don't suddenly need to not buy a home in July… they still need somewhere to live. We just have this preconception that spring is selling season and it becomes reality because we make it a reality."

John Costanzo of Woodards Carlton North has worked as an agent in Melbourne for nearly 30 years, and winter is "normally when we achieve the best prices."

"If I was selling my own home I would sell it in winter, for the simple reason that you do have less stock," he said. 

"The less competition you've got when your property is on the market, the better off you're going to be."

Should sellers list now or wait?

Of course, every seller's personal circumstances are different, and generally, the right time to list is when you're ready. 

For sellers looking to achieve a top sale price, coming to market this winter could turn out to be ideal, though. 

Listings have remained exceptionally low since September 2022 according to CoreLogic figures

With so much pent-up activity on the selling side, this year's spring selling season could see a significant influx of stock coming to the market, giving buyers more to choose from and making it more difficult for vendors to stand out from the crowd. 

The banks are forecasting property prices to hold relatively flat in 2023. If that pans out, waiting for the busier months may not result in a better sale price. 

Westpac's latest property price forecast projects prices remaining flat across the year. Source: Westpac, April 2023

Sellers who are also looking to buy in the same market can be assured that both sides of the process will balance each other out as conditions change. 

A more competitive buying market means an easier sale and vice versa. In effect, it typically all comes out in the wash. 

In terms of the next steps, getting an estimate of your property's value and speaking with a top local agent who can give personalised advice on how to approach the current market are two of of the best ways to start forming a clear picture of how to move forward.