Demand for property falls in April

Demand for property eased in April with views-per-listing and sales both down nationally according to new data.

The latest PropTrack Housing Market Indicators Report for May 2022 found disruptions from the Easter and Anzac Day long weekends, combined with the ongoing Federal Election campaign and talk of interest rates rising, a number of markets reported decreased activity.

In April, views per listing fell 8.8 per cent over the month to sit 10.4 per cent lower than in January 2022. Although, nationwide views per listing are still 23.4 per cent higher than the same time last year.

While sales volumes over the first quarter of 2022 have tracked the 2021 levels closely, they dropped in April with preliminary weekly sales volumes down 4 per cent on the same period last year.

The report noted that demand from prospective buyers continues to drop from the extreme levels witnessed in 2021, as expectations of price falls weigh on activity, along with concerns around higher mortgage rates.

PropTrack Senior Economist and report author, Eleanor Creagh said signs of a two-speed market were evident in April.

“Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart are seeing activity cool more quickly than Adelaide and to some degree Brisbane,” Ms Creagh said.

“The smaller capitals are benefitting from preference shifts toward larger homes, as well as affordability advantages and workplace flexibility.

“Regional areas continue to see a constrained stock of available properties for sale, while demand per listing remains high, which is supporting price growth in these markets.”

According to the report, search activity slowed again in April 2022, with national search volumes falling 2 per cent from last month’s levels. 

Search activity is easing Australia-wide, and volumes fell in every state over the past month.

The largest month-on-month declines were recorded in Western Australia (down 7 per cent) and New South Wales (down 6 per cent).

Compared to the same period a year earlier, search volumes are lower in NSW (down 10 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (down 9 per cent), and Victoria (down 9 per cent) but remain higher in Western Australia (up 10 per cent), South Australia (up 7 per cent), the Northern Territory (up 6 per cent), Queensland (up 3 per cent), and Tasmania (up 1 per cent).

Views per listing also fell 8.8 per cent month-on-month to sit 10.4 per cent lower than January’s record high.

However, nationwide, views per listing are still 23.4 per cent higher than they were in April last year.

Ms Creagh said demand, based on the number of views per listing on, had moderated from historic highs.

“Record high views per listing for much of last year reflected both very strong interest from buyers and a relatively low volume of stock available for sale, particularly in regional areas,” she said.

“The good news for buyers is that there continues to be more stock for sale coming to market since spring last year. 

“This increased choice continues to ease the prior consistent growth in views per listing.”

The report noted sales volumes peaked in December last year, but throughout the first quarter of 2022 preliminary weekly sales volumes nationally were tracking at a very similar pace to the first quarter of 2021. 

Ms Creagh said sales volumes had started to slow as buyer demand softened.

“The uniformity of the pandemic boom is subsiding and, to date this year, sales volumes are off to a slower start compared to the same period last year in Victoria (down 7 per cent), Tasmania (down 10 per cent), NSW (down 12 per cent), and Queensland (down 1 per cent),” she said.

“However, they are outpacing the same period to date last year in the ACT (5 per cent), NT (10 per cent), SA (4 per cent), and WA (13 per cent).

“Sales volumes have most significantly gathered pace in the capital cities of Perth, Adelaide, and Darwin.”

The report found that the median number of days a property was listed on in April 2022 was 35 days, up from 33 days in March. 

Ms Creagh said properties sold more slowly through April in every state and territory except SA and the ACT, as long weekend disruptions cooled housing market activity.

“This year has seen the busiest first quarter for new listings in capital cities in eight years, and more choice has eased the level of competition with an improved balance between supply and demand,” she said.

“With more supply and fewer competing bidders, days on site have climbed and will likely continue to do so as the year progresses. 

“Buyers are gaining the upper hand from sellers, who had a firm grip throughout 2021.”

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.