Buyers are surprisingly responsive to rise in May listings: CoreLogic's Eliza Owen

Buyers are surprisingly responsive to rise in May listings: CoreLogic's Eliza Owen
Buyers are surprisingly responsive to rise in May listings: CoreLogic's Eliza Owen


COVID-19 has brought about downside risks for the economy and housing market.

A 0.3% decline in March GDP confirmed a technical recession is underway in Australia, total wages paid fell 5.4% between mid-March and early May, and Australian dwelling market values saw the first month-on-month decline since June 2019. But one surprising sign of stabilising emerged in May.

Home sales have risen, with home owners testing the market, and new listings are rising. In fact, buyer demand is outweighing the volume of new listings.

Strong absorption of new listings over May

This absorption can be observed across new and total listings data.

CoreLogic counts an advertised property as a ‘new’ listing if it has not previously been seen on the market in the past 72 days.

Total listings are the sum of new and re-listed stock for sale on the market. The count of new and total listings are typically reported in rolling 28-day periods.

In the 28-days to 31st of May, new listings rose 22.4% on the previous period, but total listings fell -2.9%. This means that even as more new stock came onto the market, buyer activity offset the additional stock.

This is an especially important trend to follow at the moment. As Australians face record high levels of housing debt, job and income losses could lead to a rise in urgent or distressed sales. The latest financial stability review outlined that for each percentage point rise in unemployment, there has typically been an 80 basis point rise in the rate of mortgage arrears.

If a large volume of distressed properties are listed simultaneously, this could put downward pressure on property values and make it harder to recoup equity from distressed sales.

This is largely why banks have offered ‘repayment holidays’ on mortgage repayments. APRA data suggests 60% of bank loans and advances are in housing, so a decline in property values affects bank profits and capital.

Another way to assess the uptake of new listings is to consider the ratio of sales to new listings. This measure is found by dividing sales volumes by the number of new listings, and has been used as a leading indicator of property price movements.

The ratio increased from 1.1 in April to 1.3 over May, coinciding with an estimated increase in sales volumes of 20.4% across the combined capital cities over the month. This is the highest sales to new listing ratio in at least 10 years, though sales and listings volumes are still at very low levels.

ELIZA OWEN is CoreLogic's head of research

Eliza Owen

Eliza Owen

Property market analyst. I hold a first class honours degree in economics from the University of Sydney. I have been a regular economic commentator on FBI Radio, and have been a guest speaker on Triple J’s Hack, 702 ABC Radio, Sky News and at TEDxYouth Sydney. I have provided comment for various media outlets including The Guardian Australia, the Australian Financial Review, Pedestrian TV, the Daily Telegraph and more.

Property Listings COVID-19

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