Australia

All I want for Christmas is to sell my house

Christmas could come early for frustrated Victorian vendors who have had their homes on the market for most of the “rollercoaster” year, as confidence returns to Melbourne real estate.

A Torquay house that’s been discounted twice, a one-bedroom Strathmore apartment and a lush Bright property have lingered the longest on the market — for about 11 months, since January 2.

Homeowners in Clyde, the CBD, Ballan, Wongarra and South Yarra are also desperate for Santa to bring them sales after a tough 2020, having waited for the chance to put up sold stickers since the first month of the year.

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Phillip Webb chief executive Anthony Webb said the drawn-out sales campaigns could be blamed on the coronavirus “rollercoaster”, which had left some vendors “stuck” with their listings.

“This has been a year where all normal rules were thrown out the window,” Mr Webb said.

“The number of days a property has been on the market is often more reflective of the situation we’ve been in rather than the quality of the listing.

“We saw some buyers who had difficulty getting finance, so they also just stopped looking at properties.

“Lockdown became really difficult for vendors who had already purchased property, which is why we saw some of them rescinding on contracts during the cooling off period.”

Realestate.com.au data shows the median days on market for houses in greater Melbourne had increased slightly to 52 over the past year. And a typical unit is lingering on the market nine days longer than it was a year ago, at a median of 61 days.

Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said the inner-city apartment market had been massively hit by the ban on private inspections and international border closures.

“These markets have been challenged because of very little rental demand,” Ms Conisbee said.

“Most units in Australia are bought by investors, so that’s also why these markets have been very weak, with investors fleeing during COVID-19.”

But the tide was turning in the later months of the year, as the real estate market returned to normal.

“Things are selling really well at the moment, so in many ways it might be good that the sellers did hold out, because the market is recovering so quickly and conditions are powering ahead, so it’s far more likely they’ll get the price they set out to achieve,” Ms Conisbee said.

Pakenham Upper vendor Carol Sheen has been trying to sell her outer lifestyle retreat at 5 Bayard Drive since the start of 2020.

After a turbulent year, she wants to “put pen to paper before Christmas” and move into her newly-built Warragul house without being saddled with too much debt next year.

“We’ve been waiting for a bit of normality, so people could get back to work and they were comfortable enough in their jobs to switch properties,” Ms Sheen sad.

“Now that restrictions have eased I’m a bit more confident … we’re getting two or three private inspections through most weeks, with more buyers who are looking to live rurally.”

The four-bedroom acerage with sweeping views is on the market for $1.15m.

First National Nielson Partners agent Nyall Greene is also confident a buyer is just around the corner for Ms Sheen, after a spike in Melburnians inquiring in the outer suburbs for more space and affordability.

He recently found a buyer for a Nar Nar Goon North house at 800 Bessie Creek Road after 325 days on the market.

“The vendors were very health conscious and hesitant about having anybody through the property, even before the lockdown … and they weren’t the only vendors like that,” Mr Greene said.

“But when lockdown ended and we could get people through, we quickly uncovered a buyer.”

Buyer’s advocate Emily Wallace said buyers should “not dismiss” older listings but check for red flags related to costly building or pest issues, unusual features or unrealistic price expectations.

“Asking very specific questions will help unpack the story behind it … it’s worth asking if it’s been under offer before and why others may have pulled out of the contract,” Ms Wallace said.

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