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  • 2021 rush: why listing or selling now is a smart move

2021 rush: why listing or selling now is a smart move

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October brought another solid round of growth across most states, but increasingly there are signs pointing to the market easing off considerably. 

It begs the question, is there still an opportunity to capitalise on the current hot market conditions and sell before the Christmas shutdown?

We spoke to top agents in Sydney and Melbourne about the changes they're beginning to see, how to list quickly and effectively, and a different plan of attack for those still on the fence. 

Agents say the market is turning a corner

Headwinds like affordability pressures, tightened lending restrictions, rising stock levels and the potential for interest rates to rise sooner than expected are all contributing to what looks like the 2021 boom finally tailing off. 

"The market's sort of shifted the last few weeks," says Max Klimenko, partner at Ray White Toum Group in the inner-Sydney suburb of Redfern.

"We're getting prices adjusted now. We're not feeling the same sort of urgency that we were during the lockdown."

He puts that down to the above factors, as well as the ability for potential buyers to set their sights on other major expenses like travel which haven't been on the cards until now. 

Paul Fenech, principal at McGrath Croydon in Melbourne, is seeing a similar trend in his city.

It's been his best listing month ever, and "probably that gives buyers a bit more choice," he explains. "We're really busy but the market might be nearing its peak."

Both agents say buyers are still out in force and vendors are fetching strong sale prices, but gains in 2022 will likely be significantly less than they have been this year. 

The more stock that comes onto the market, the more buyer competition will be spread out, meaning conditions won't favour sellers as much as they have done. 

Why should you list or sell your property before the New Year - and how can you do it?

With the ball still very much in the seller's court, it could be an ideal time to strike before the Christmas break and achieve a top result. 

When it comes to making a swift move to capitalise on the tail end of the 2021 activity, the door is still open—but not for long.

"You've got a good two-and-a-bit weeks to get a property up and running, to hit the market and auction off in mid-December," Mr Klaminko explains. "That's plenty of time to get things up and running."

Max Klimenko, Ray White Touma Group
Max Klimenko, partner at Ray White Toum Group in Sydney's Redfern.

To do that successfully means focusing on the most crucial cosmetic steps to prepare your home: investing in styling and photography, a fresh lick of paint, potentially replacing any tired appliances and throwing in some greenery to brighten things up.

Home staging is especially important. "We always say you get 10 times return on your investment," he says. "If it's costing you $4k on styling, you should be getting $40k in return, because that creates competition."

Mr Fenech shares similar advice, adding that sellers "don't need to do too much at the moment because there are still plenty of buyers out there, and they will fight to get property."

Beyond the aesthetic improvements, it's also vital to have a good solicitor or conveyancer at the ready with contracts drafted up as well as having building and strata reports handy. 

Mr Klimenko concludes that, "if you're working proactively, you can still bring a property to the market in the next two weeks and have it ready for auction in the first or second week of December."

Not ready right now? Listing in 2021 and selling next year is also an option

Pressed for time or needing to do more substantial work to prepare your home for listing? 

That may not be such a bad thing. There's still time to address larger issues like landscaping, mid-level repairs or renovations and exterior painting with the view to listing later this year. 

January typically sees a reduction in seller activity, and that can work to your advantage, because pre-approved buyers won't stop their hunt. 

Even if you're still thinking of listing this year and selling in 2022, Mr Fenech says "don't try and find work" when it comes to making extra improvements.

Paul Fenech, McGrath Croydon
Paul Fenech, Principal at McGrath Croydon in Melbourne.

There are always going to be renovations and extensive upgrades that can be done to a property, but the amount of additional time and money those can cost won't necessarily be worth the effort. 

If a sale is pushed back by a number of months, market conditions could have changed substantially, and the return on investment may diminish. 

Mr Fenech expects January to still be a good month for sellers, but by March things could wind back considerably, "because usually after a peak it comes back a notch."

'Pocket listings' - a two-phase approach to selling

While securing a sale before the Christmas break might suit some vendors, it's understandable that others might be on the fence about when and how to list.  

In that case, Mr Klimenko suggests a two-phase approach that begins with a pocket listing—an off-market strategy that can then transition into a public, on-the-market campaign later on.

That means exposing your property to an agent's database of highly motivated buyers without having to prepare for open homes or setting an auction date, opening the door for a strong offer and at the very least gathering valuable buyer feedback. 

He says that, for the right buyer who's emotionally drained from having missed out on prior properties and is eager to beat out the competition, "that could be an opportunity to put two and two together and get the deal done prior to going to market.

"If phase one doesn't work this year—if you're not getting the most out of the sale—then obviously phase two we'd look at going to the market in January."

Mr Fenech agrees that it can be a great option for sellers who are uncertain, particularly if they're worried about where to buy their next home.

"People aren't maybe quite set and they'll have an idea they want to sell but they're not quite sure," he says.

In most cases, if the vendor is able to achieve an extra-special sale price, that can give them the added confidence to sell first and buy later. 

What's the best way to proceed?

Ultimately, whether you're looking to close a sale before the end of the year or your plans are a bit more open-ended, speaking with a top agent in your area can yield the best advice. 

Somebody who understands your specific situation, has knowledge of your local market and has a database of motivated buyers will be best placed to talk through your options and make a recommendation. 

With a variety of wider market factors looking set to shake things up in the coming months, having that professional assistance can make all the difference when making such an important decision. 

From there you can devise a plan and feel confident you're working towards the best outcome for you.