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  • 'Amazing time to sell' - top agents spy hot winter opportunities

'Amazing time to sell' - top agents spy hot winter opportunities

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The property market typically enters a lull in the colder months, but so far this winter is proving to be a successful one for sellers. 

Property prices are on the up as available stock on the market remains incredibly scarce. Will the market change again when spring arrives?

We spoke to three of the country's top agents about where sellers are finding success, how to navigate buying and selling at the same time, and what's up ahead.

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Sales remain strong as buyers scrap over limited listings

The listings shortage has been a running theme since September 2022. John Costanzo from Woodards Carlton in Melbourne explained that stock is now down by nearly 40 per cent year-on-year. 

"That's creating more competition for the houses that are available and it's keeping prices quite strong," he said. 

Shiv Nair of Ray White TNG in Sydney's Hills District pointed to growing motivation from buyers as another factor pulling prices upward. 

"Buyers are nervous about pre-approvals and borrowing capacity changes. There's definitely a sense of urgency from buyers at the moment," he said. 

Ray White TNG's Shiv Nair said suburb records are still being broken in his area of Sydney. Source: Supplied

The higher concentration of buyers per listing, along with a race to buy before interest rates rise any further, have driven heated auctions and achieved new suburb records in his area. 

"When an opportunity comes up they're fighting for it. Because of the lack of supply, they are being less selective. Some properties are back to selling at peak market prices."

Sellers are fearful of buying - but they needn't be

The ongoing lack of stock begs the question - just why are listings holding so low? 

Brenton Buttigieg of Ray White Nerang on the Gold Coast explained that sellers are fearful of making their next move in such a tight market. 

"Everyone knows we're on a pretty good thing here, but they all say 'well, what am I going to buy?' That's their whole motivation for holding off selling."

Faced with the conundrum of where they can secure their next property, does that mean sellers have their hands tied behind their backs? Nair doesn't think so.

“Because of the low level of supply right now, vendors do have leverage. They're in a powerful position,” he said.

He referenced recent cases where sellers have had a lot of autonomy over negotiating settlement periods or even leasing back the home for a period until they make their next move once stock levels rise. 

 "At the moment it is safe to sell now and buy later. We will see a high level of supply coming onto the market over the coming months.

"Later on, as stock levels increase, they won't have the same power to negotiate as much because there will be a lot more supply."

A change could be coming this spring selling season

The low-listings environment can't last forever, and there have been widespread suggestions that this year's spring selling season could see a fresh load of stock finally coming to the market. 

"I'd be very surprised if it's not a very active spring," Buttigieg said. 

"With the demand out there, and if people are starting to believe that we are at the peak of this interest rate cycle, people are going to be more inclined to make a change."

Ray White Nerang's Brenton Buttigieg expects a charged spring selling season up ahead. Source: Supplied

Nair had similar expectations, noting that more investors are beginning to sell up as even sky-high rents aren't covering ballooning mortgage repayments, while distressed sales due to rising rates are also becoming a factor. 

"You'll have a mixture of everyone coming onto the market soon, and that I think will impact the market," he said. 

"There will be a high influx of properties in the coming months. From a seller's point of view, the advice is to sell now and beat the rush."

This winter still presents strong opportunities

Winter is typically a period of hibernation for the property market, but this year looks to be an interesting one for sellers who make their move early. 

"The sentiment stands that the best time to be on the market is when nobody else is. That's when you're going to achieve the most," Buttigieg explained. 

Costanzo was particularly keen on the colder months, saying "If I was selling my property I'd be getting ready right about now, I'd be painting that room as we speak.

"You don't have to use a crystal ball - you can see it. If you're serious about selling then I would be getting onto it sooner rather than later."

Nair agreed, saying that "buyers don't have choice right now and the longer sellers do wait to come to market, the more they'll be working with buyers with lower pre-approvals."

Ultimately, he said, "right now is an amazing time to sell."

Present your home well, price it right, and block out the negativity

So how should sellers approach the current market? Nair explained that the fundamentals are still vital.

"It's still important for vendors to select the right agent, to put together a strong campaign and work on presentation to get properties ready to sell. It helps achieve that extra 5 per cent."

Costanzo stressed the importance of setting your price in line with true market value in order to maximise genuine buyer interest. 

"The fatal mistake is launching high and then dropping your price - that's not a good signal. You're better off hitting the market at the correct level."

Buttigieg noted that, despite prices rising, media headlines are still generally negative in the face of interest rate uncertainty, though it's important to look local to see how things are really performing. 

"Disregard the doom and gloom and focus on your suburb. The hurt is not spread across the market equally," he said. 

"Speak to your local agent and see what's going on in the area and when they're anticipating the most listings to be on the market, then avoid that time."