By Charles Tarbey

The effects of changing seasons on the real estate market have long shaped perceptions about the best time to sell. Traditionally, winter has been a quieter season, and spring can be full of activity as buyers emerge from hibernation and homes are showcased in their best light.

However, a booming market over the past few years has resulted in strong market conditions throughout the year, and a lack of distinct seasonal influences upon property transactions in many areas of Australia.

So with the spring season upon us, I believe there are three main factors that will influence activity in the property market over the coming months.

Lack of stock

Spring is typically viewed as the time of year where the number of listings on the market peaks. The end of winter would usually be the time when properties are readied for sale, but there appears to be much lower levels of stock on the market, compared to previous years. However, demand is still strong for what is available in many areas of Australia.

The effects of this supply and demand disparity are prominent in Sydney in particular. Over the week ending 21 August, Sydney saw its strongest clearance rates in 14 months at 86.4%, and close to 100% in many areas across the city.

These conditions point to a seller’s market in some areas, where competitive buyer interest may achieve a great price for your property. However, in light of such little available stock, many prospective sellers are hesitant to list their properties on the market. They may be fearful that if they pack up and sell up, there may not be anywhere to go. They may wonder if there is anything available in the area they desire, or may be priced out of the market if there’s not much available within their budget.

If there has been a lingering reason to sell your property, such as to downsize, upsize, or relocate to another area, it may be as good a time as any to consider taking the leap.

Markets within markets

Secondly, the markets within markets that we have seen for a long time in Australia shows that a hot spring market is not a uniform guarantee across the nation. Record low interest rates seem to accelerate activity in some parts, and have a less prominent effect in others.

According to CoreLogic, capital city dwelling values are now 6.3% higher over the first seven months of the year. While values are still rising, four of Australia’s eight capital cities recorded a fall in dwelling values over the month of July, with Darwin and Perth recording negative movement in values.

I was recently in Perth and that market in particular has experienced a real lull in activity.

Median growth figures paint a picture of a strong market, but it’s always important to break these figures down to state, and even suburb level when considering property.

Looking beyond the hotspots this spring and conducting careful research may lead to opportunities to purchase property at a more affordable price.

Rental rates

In the rental market, we have seen rental rates stabilise over the course of this year. CoreLogic reports that rental rates fell 0.3% over July and are now 0.6% lower over the year so far. Combined capital city median weekly rents now sit at $483, which is the lowest since December 2015.

While this may be welcome news for renters, it means landlords should be placing value on retaining good tenants. It may be wise to avoid significant rental increases, unless there are strong justifications for doing so, as continued occupancy may be worth its weight in gold in the context of all the new apartment stock currently coming into the market.

In order to promote the appeal of your property in a competitive rental market, it could be a great time to consider rewarding long-term tenants, or providing small incentives, such as improvements to the property, or services such as lawn mowing.