Buyers are snapping up properties faster than sellers can list, with the total number of properties for sale nationwide falling despite new listings picking up.
Buyers are snapping up properties faster than sellers can list, with the total number of properties for sale nationwide falling despite new listings picking up.

Sellers swamped by swarming property buyers

The rise in the number of new properties that came onto the market last month did little to replenish stock levels given the high levels of buyer demand, with the total number of available dwellings dropping by almost 3 per cent.

New listings rose 52.4 per cent in February, equating to 76,430 new properties being added to the market in the past 30 days, according to data house SQM Research. The figure is 6 per cent higher than the same time last year, when word of the emerging coronavirus issues had started to spook sellers.

While vendors have started to return to the market, it has not yet matched the level of buyer demand. The fear of missing out has caused properties to sell quickly, with abnormally high activity at open homes and at auctions, which has resulted resulting in the total number of properties available falling 2.7 per cent month-on-month to 257,952.

Total listings were down 13.1 per cent in February last year.

SQM managing director Louis Christopher said the rate of "absorption" is increasing, with listings over 180 days falling 8.5 per cent last month and 26.7 per cent on the same time last year.

"The key takeaway from February's property listing numbers is that despite the rise in new listings nationwide (year-on-year and month-on-month), absorption rates are picking up pace, so much so that total listings actually fell over the same period," Mr Christopher said.

"Right now demand is swamping supply. And no where more is this the case than regional Australia."

New listings in Canberra almost doubled during February (up 93.8 per cent), while Sydney recorded a 70.9 per cent increase.

The largest monthly decreases in total listings were in Adelaide (down 5.9 per cent), Brisbane and Perth (each down 4.2 per cent). Total listings were significantly lower year-on-year in Hobart (down 19.9 per cent), Adelaide (down 18.4 per cent) and Brisbane (down 14.7 per cent).

Mr Christopher said the market was set to explode without APRA intervention if no impact was felt when the federal government's JobKeeper stimulus was wound back.

"The big test is to come when JobKeeper ends at the end of this month," he said.

"If there is no evidence of a material fall in clearance rates over April, then nothing is going to stop the market until the day APRA steps to regulate lending in or we have a rate hike from the Reserve Bank."

The RBA kept rates on hold on Tuesday.

Originally published as Sellers swamped by swarming property buyers


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