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Sellers keen to sell homes but hold off: survey

More than half of all home owners said that they are delaying listing their property despite an overall increase in selling intentions, according to research.

The research – commissioned by Westpac and conducted by Lonergan Research – found that more than a third (35 per cent) of home owners are planning to sell in the next five years.

This is a five-percentage-point increase in selling intentions from the last quarter, and more than double the number of home owners that were planning to sell prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

It also found that 12 per cent are already in the process of listing their property for sale or are planning to do so in the next 12 months.

Despite this increase, the research found that 51 per cent of respondents said they are actively holding off from listing their property immediately.


The research has also found that sales have increased considerably over the last four months, and are up 36 per cent on a year ago.

According to Westpac senior economist Matt Hassan, this has resulted in a “significant tightening in supply with listings across the major capital cities now at a 12-year low”.

Meanwhile, with 22 per cent of Australians planning to buy a first home in the next five years, sellers who are seeking to find and buy their next home identified competition with other buyers (30 per cent), and a lack of supply (21 per cent) as their top challenges in purchasing property.

While two-thirds (66 per cent) of sellers said moving costs act as a significant barrier to selling their home, 87 per cent of home owners intend on upgrading their home in preparation for the sale, the survey of 2,086 respondents aged 18 and over found.

Furthermore, the research found that on average, these home owners said they expect to invest around $32,000 for covering upgrades like minor repairs (44 per cent), fresh paint (44 per cent) and upgrading a kitchen (19 per cent) or bathroom (19 per cent).


Indeed, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) lending indicators data for December 2020, the value of renovations and additions reached a record high of $941.6 million at the end of last year.

With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a shift in buyer preferences in a property, the survey found that one in five home owners are selling for reasons directly relating to the pandemic, including accommodating working-from-home arrangements (11 per cent) and seeking more space in a property (25 per cent).

Home owners anticipate that their property could be listed for about five weeks, with 50 per cent expecting a private sale, respondents said in the survey.

Commenting on the survey findings, Westpac mortgages managing director Anthony Hughes said there has been a significant shift in property aspirations in Australia over the last 12 months.

Moreover, he added that low interest rates, improved consumer sentiment, and strong economic forecasts are fuelling confidence in the housing market.

“Home ownership preferences have evolved since the start of the pandemic, with Australians seeking more space, peace and quiet, as well as properties which offer outdoor living like backyards and balconies,” Mr Hughes said.

“This is fuelling buyer demand and motivating more Australians to think about selling their current property so they can purchase a new home to better meet their future needs.

“The low interest rate environment, upbeat consumer sentiment, and improving economic outlook is also underpinning stronger seller confidence as we head into 2021. This will no doubt be welcome news for buyers eagerly awaiting more homes to come on the market.”

Mr Hassan said demand for housing has surged following the improved economic outlook, and is significantly beating supply.

“The research suggests the situation will rebalance in coming months as more sellers come onto the market. However, demand is still expected to remain strong, driving a sustained lift in prices this year and next,” Mr Hassan said.

[Related: House price growth rate hits 17-year high]

Sellers keen to sell homes but hold off: survey
Sellers keen to sell homes but hold off: survey

Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.

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