Elevated numbers of property listings to restrict any significant recovery in the housing market: Cameron Kusher

Elevated numbers of property listings to restrict any significant recovery in the housing market: Cameron Kusher
Elevated numbers of property listings to restrict any significant recovery in the housing market: Cameron Kusher

Over the four weeks to July 8 this year, RP Data tracked 301,414 unique properties advertised for sale across the country. While the number of homes available for sale is very high, the volume has been reducing and is actually about -7.4% lower than when supply levels peaked last November.

It’s important to note that the total listings count includes both new listings (i.e. properties that haven’t been advertised over the past six months) and re-listings (properties that have been advertised at least once previously over the past six months). The measurement of new listings compared with re-listings is an important one, as it provides an insight about why listings numbers are so high.

At a national level, RP Data counted 42,473 new properties advertised for sale over the four weeks to July 8, 2012. This figure was actually 4.6% lower than at the same time last year and 38.4% lower than the historic peak. New listings are currently at virtual record low levels outside of the highly seasonal Christmas/New Year period.

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Clearly, the large number of homes available for sale is due to a lack of absorption rather than a large number of new listings being added to the market. Transaction volumes are tracking about 13% lower than what was recorded at the same time last year. Additionally, homes are taking longer to sell. Both of these factors are contributing to the higher stock levels.

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An encouraging sign that market conditions are improving is that selling time has been trending shorter over 2012 and there has been a subtle improvement in transaction volumes as well. Both these factors, together with the fact that new listings have also been diminishing, is resulting in a reduced level of effective supply. How do we calculate the number of homes for sale? 

Firstly, we need to acquire the listings data. RP Data has an exclusive arrangement with Australia’s largest real estate portal, which provides us with a direct feed of all their listings data, including the complete address of the property that is not always available to the public. We also ‘key’ listings from all the major capital city and regional media around the country. The net result is that we are capturing what is likely to be close to 100% of all properties that are being advertised for sale around the country.

 


 

For the next phase, we need to count the listings. This means initially de-duplicating the listings data which are gathered across multiple channels. This process occurs across a number of phases. All the addresses are standardised to account for differences in the text of the listing address. Next the ‘clean’ listings data is matched with our ownership database (RP Data maintains Australia’s largest property database that includes details on virtually every property across the country); in this way we are able to allocate a unique ID to each listing record that is associated with every listing ever recorded (this is how we can calculate the selling time and rate of vendor discounting, or simply provide the marketing history on a property). Any listings that are left over go through a manual matching process where possible. Any records that are not manually matched are excluded from the counts. For example, last week we started with close to one million listings across the country and, through our matching process, funnelled this number down to 301,414 unique properties.

Although at a national level the total amount of stock on the market is of concern, levels are easing in some regions. Across the states, total listings are lower than at the same time last year in Queensland (-2.1%), Western Australia (-4.3%) and the Northern Territory (-3%). Similarly, total listings volumes are lower than at the same time year in the capital city markets of Brisbane (-3.5%), Perth (-11.3%) and Darwin (-14.2%).

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Comparatively, listings are at much higher levels than the same time last year in Victoria (33.2%), Tasmania (25.6%) and the Australian Capital Territory (27.4%). At a capital city level, listings are sitting at elevated levels in Melbourne (31.5%), Hobart (22.9%) and Canberra (33.4%).

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Overall, there is a lot of stock which has sat on the market for a long period of time that has gone unsold. It is also reported that many of these home owners are unwilling to budge on their asking price and, as a result, homes are taking longer to sell and listing volumes are elevated.

In an ideal world, we would see some of these vendors remove their home from sale if they are not serious about selling. Clearly, a large proportion of vendors aren’t in a position where they ‘need’ to sell.

While listings remain at elevated levels it is likely to continue to restrict any significant recovery in the housing market; buyers simply have too many homes to choose from at a time when there is not urgency in their purchase making decision. The spring selling season will be a big test for the market. This is a time when new listings generally rise. Will the trend of lower listings continue into spring or will we see the trend of lower listing numbers continue?

Cameron Kusher is senior data analyst at RP Data.

This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.

Cameron Kusher

Cameron Kusher

Cameron Kusher is senior research analyst at CoreLogic RP Data.

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