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4 signs of changing real estate market

by Chris Lang on June 5, 2008

When you are looking for a house to buy, watching the property market helps to understand who has more power at the moment, buyers or sellers. But how can you really watch the market? It is simple – watch the ads in one of the popular real-estate websites, such as realestate.com.au or domain.com.au.

Usually you choose a suburb where you look for the property and then start searching in its listings for a house that will suit your needs. The properties stay on the market for at least a month. If during that month you are seeing that

  • the advertised price was reduced after 2 – 3 weeks or
  • the pictures in listing were changed for more attractive ones or
  • the property went “under contract” and it is back on market or
  • the property was passed in on auction
  • those are the signs of “buyers’ market”. It means that the vendors will be more ready to negotiate with the buyers, they will be more flexible because obviously there are more properties on the market than buyers.

    Another thing you could do is to gather statistics of weekly sales once a week, on Saturday evening or Sunday – it only takes 10-15 minutes. I use REIV – the best source of property sales data in Victoria. Look at the auctions clearance rate, if it consistently goes down, week after week – that’s a sign of buyers’ market. Write down the addresses of the sold houses, number of bedrooms, was it a private sale or an auction, what the price was (in case of private sale) or
    vendor bid and reserved price (in case of an auction). These details can tell you a lot about the real estate market – here’s an example.

    Let’s say you have seen a house advertised for 500K in the beginning of January. In the middle of January you see the price reduced to 490K, then in the beginning of February it is reduced again to 485K and then two weeks later sold for 481K – what does it tell you? If it happened to just one house – maybe there was something wrong with it, but if there are more similar cases, it means that you can negotiate a discount of 3% – 5% from asking price when making an offer on a house, because at the moment the buyers have more power than the vendors.

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