Do soaring property listings mean the market will crash?

We all know that property prices are driven by supply and demand. So on the face of it, reading that the amount of residential stock for sale has increased by 29.7% in the year to May, does not sound good – does it?

Even worse, according to new figures released by SQM Research, the amount of property for sale grew by close to 60% in Darwin and by almost 50% in Melbourne over the last year.

SQM chief Louis Christopher says the result should be expected given winter has started and the while amount of stock on the market is now staring to fall, it’s too early to see is this is the beginning of a turn around.

“We’ve always said the decline on house prices will be mid to high single digits, and we still hold to that because there is still weakness in demand side, but what this means is that if listings do peak, we will unlikely see falls in the capital cities in the double digits” said Christopher in a report published in SmartCompany.

How bad is the problem?
The amount of properties now available for purchase is up by a massive 29.7% when compared to the same time last year.

In Melbourne stock levels of houses for sale have increased by a 49.6% when compared to last year, while in Darwin stock has increased by 59.3%.

Canberra stock for sale has risen by 44.6%, Adelaide by 42.4%, Perth by 37.1%,Brisbane by 30.4% and Sydney by 25.5%. Hobart stock has risen by 35.7% across the year.

The question we need to ask ourselves is does this hangover of unsold properties mean our markets are going to crash?

According to Christopher and other commentators too many properties for sale at a time when many buyers are exhibiting caution will cause property prices to drop prices by as much as 10% in some areas this year.

But let’s clarify things…there is not one property market in Australia. Our markets are behaving differently in different geographic locations and at different price points.

If you look at the Gold Coast, much of the stock for sale is developer stock that is sitting vacant or “discretionary properties” – holiday homes that are now up for sale. Some of these vendors have to sell and are prepared to sell at almost any price.  And there are too many top end luxury properties on the markets in our capital cities for the small number of buyers looking in this prestige segment.

On the other hand many of the mainstream properties for sale in streets of our capital cities are from vendors who would like to cash in on the high prices their neighbors achieved last year. The problem is they are unlikely to attain these types of prices this year, but most vendors are not in a hurry to sell.

Think about it…there is very little distressed stock on the market and few desperate sellers who need to sell at any price.  But what is attracting media attention lately is the difference between the asking price (the inflated figure a vendor hopes to get for his property) and what the market is prepared to pay.  And clearly this gap has widened compared to a year or two ago, when there were more buyers than sellers.

That’s what happens in a buyer’s market and it means that house prices will meander down slightly in some suburbs and hold steady in others – but there is no property crash ahead.


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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