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  • 'Great for sellers' — how top agents are navigating the current market

'Great for sellers' — how top agents are navigating the current market

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Following the FOMO-driven madness of 2021, it's been a touchier year for the property market that requires a more nuanced approach in order to sell successfully. 

A-grade properties are still in high demand, presentation and marketing are as important as ever, and although listings remain low, that may be about to shift. 

We spoke to three of Australia's top agents to find out how they're approaching the current market in order to still achieve standout results.

The market is holding strong right now

By all accounts, 2023 is off to a surprisingly solid start with buyers coming out of the woodwork in a moment when listings remain persistently low. 

Shiv Nair of Sydney's Ray White TNG explained that "late last year I was averaging 10 to 15 groups at inspections in one weekend. Now I'm averaging about 25 to 30 groups for a similar property.

"The numbers at open homes have definitely increased, if not doubled, which has been great for sellers."

Up in Brisbane, Belle Property's Tony O'Doherty is seeing homes sell for what they are genuinely worth, again thanks to a shortage of listings. 

"At the moment, interest across the board is quite strong because there are good buyers in the marketplace and stock levels are down," he said, adding that homes are typically selling for what he believes is their true value. 

Tristan Tomasino from Buxton Inner West in Melbourne agreed, saying that "there are a lot of buyers out there and there's still a lack of properties."

He did caution that he expects the market to return to last year's conditions soon, though, and "if you're thinking of selling in the next six months, you should be going to market today."

Ready-to-move-in homes are in hot demand

A-grade properties are still achieving standout results in the current market, while B- and C-grade homes are the ones that are dragging prices down. 

Mr Tomasino believes a lot can come from a relatively small amount of investment to get your property in a ready-to-move-in state. 

"Properties that don't really need a lot of work done to them are doing well, and vendors are doing that kind of work before going to market — landscaping, painting, even doing up bathrooms and kitchens," he said.

Tristan Tomasino of Buxton Inner West in Melbourne said ready-to-move-in homes are in hot demand. Source: Supplied

Mr Nair shared similar insights. "Buyers are definitely more attracted to homes that are ready to move in or are in modern condition," he explained. 

"My advice would be not to overspend on renovations in terms of money and time. Focus on presentation and minor improvements, then list right now in the current market rather than waiting six months for major renovations."

In the Brisbane market, Mr O'Doherty said location, size and condition are playing an especially important role in selling performance, and that relatively new homes are particularly sought after. 

"People are afraid to do anything at the moment that involves building because of contracts, how hard it is to get tradespeople, everything like that," he said.

Don't skimp on presentation and marketing

So what exactly does it take to make your property as appealing as possible without major investment? 

Cosmetic improvements like cleaning, decluttering and painting can have a huge impact, Mr Nair said, as can consulting with a home stylist to stage the property. 

Mr O'Doherty stressed that "marketing is as important as ever," and that homes which stand out from the crowd will be better placed to succeed. 

"18 months ago people were skimping on marketing because they felt they didn't need to spend. They never knew, but it was reducing their sale price. But today it's reducing their ability to sell."

Tony O'Doherty of Belle Property Bulimba said investing in marketing will pay dividends in the current market. Source: Supplied

Mr Tomasino is seeing the same dynamic in Melbourne. What's performing well is "homes that are well presented and are very appealing from a marketing sense — so vendors haven't cut corners on trying to save money on marketing."

That means investing in a strong campaign, both online and off, with top-quality styling and photos to draw maximum buyer interest. 

Choosing the right agent is vital

Perhaps one of the more underappreciated choices a vendor needs to make is agent selection, but it can turn out to be among the most impactful when it comes to a sale result. 

Mr Nair asserted that "choosing the right agent is key right now," saying that experience and a proven track record are critical in the current market. 

"Sellers need to make sure they're focused more on the right agent rather than the cheapest agent, because the cheapest agent can, unfortunately, be the most expensive agent when you look at what the vendors are walking away with," he said.

Mr O'Doherty also stressed how essential a top agent is to achieve a strong result.

"It's more important now that when you're going to market you need to be fussier than ever and more selective than ever with the agent that you're hiring," he explained. 

"You absolutely need to be speaking with the top three performers in your area and hiring the one that they feel that you can work with the best.

"In last year's market, people were going for cheaper options. The cheaper options were more expensive in the end, but today you need a very good negotiator and you need a good marketing approach."

It's a perfect market for upsizers

With the bombardment of negative media reports around Australian real estate, sellers can be forgiven for thinking there are no upsides in the current market. 

For those buying and selling at the same time, though, there can be some major benefits. 

"The best thing about these sort of markets is, if you're looking to upsize with a family home, there is no better time to do it," Mr Tomasino explained.

"You might get less for your smaller property, but that bigger property that you're looking to buy, that's taken a bigger hit dollar-wise."

He said that it's important for vendors to keep things in perspective and look at the bigger picture since upgraders will typically come out ahead when property prices have declined across the board. 

It's something that Mr Nair is seeing a lot of in his area of Sydney, too. 

"There are a lot of people making their moves and entering into larger homes in a higher price point in an affluent suburb. This is the best upside of the market."

The listings shortage may not last

When looking at the year ahead, the general consensus is that this extended period of low listings isn't going to last. 

"From a seller's point of view at this moment I would say the key advice is preparing your home and listing it on the market as soon as possible," Mr Nair said. 

"There is a very high number of properties about to come onto the market in the next two months. My advice is to anyone transacting in this market, sell now and buy later."

Ray White TNG's Shiv Nair said the window of prime selling opportunity could be closing soon. Source: Supplied

It's a similar story in Melbourne. "We've still got a bit of a shortage of stock, but there are a lot of properties coming up," Mr Tomasino pointed out.

He said that a number of vendors who didn't list in time for Christmas will begin filtering in, and while "there are still a lot of buyers out there that haven't found anything, they will soon."

"If you're thinking of selling in the next six months, you should be going to market today."

Mr O'Doherty expects newer homes with good floorplans will "remain strong," particularly as new builds continue to decline. 

Ultimately, performance will come down to the individual suburb and market, so sellers would be best placed to research their area, speak to several top agents about their prospects, and make plans accordingly.