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Selling in winter: a golden opportunity

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Real estate is a strangely seasonal business in Australia, but 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.

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. 

Last year 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. 

Last year, 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 just a little."

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 may be ideal — not just for the reasons explored above, but also because a widespread property price correction is on the horizon. 

Sale values are already falling in Sydney and Melbourne, and with interest rates tipped to reach as much as 2.5 per cent or even higher, prices across the country may fall between 10 and 15 per cent over the next 18 months. 

Westpac is forecasting significant price falls for the rest of 2022 and throughout 2023. Source: Westpac, CoreLogic

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 lower sale price can be offset by a cheaper purchase price. Reduced buyer demand also means less competition when looking for a new home to buy. In effect, it 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 advise your home and in the current market are two of the best ways to start forming a clear picture of how to move forward.