The REA Insights’ Housing Market Indicators Report revealed that the average number of days for a property to be listed on the website was 48 days in March 2021, down from an average of 71 in June 2020.
Properties sold the fastest in the ACT (25 days), followed by NSW at 27 days and Victoria at 30 days over March.
On the other hand, properties took the longest time to sell in Western Australia, where they averaged 71 days on the website, while in the Northern Territory, properties were listed for an average of 59 days before they were sold.
Despite this, the report revealed that Western Australia and the Northern Territory have seen the largest falls in average time on site, decreasing by 28 and 14 days, respectively.
According to the report, average views per listing also reached record highs in March (up 6.1 per cent), while views rose by 106.8 per cent nationally year-on-year.
The report’s author, REA Group economist Anne Flaherty, attributed this rise to various factors, including record-low interest rates, government support packages for first home buyers (FHB), and limited available stock.
Ms Flaherty singled out Tasmania, where shortage of stock has driven average views per listing higher compared with other states.
However, on a year-on-year basis, the strongest growth in views per listing was in Queensland (up 127.4 per cent), followed by NSW (116.1 per cent) and Western Australia (109.5 per cent).
Ms Flaherty said that listings are expected to increase over the remainder of the year, which she said should help relieve supply constraints and could contribute to a decline in views per listing over time.
Meanwhile, the report found that after a brief drop, enquiries on realestate.com.au from users who identify as investors are steadily increasing. In March, investors comprised 16.9 per cent of email enquiries, compared with the 11.0 per cent share recorded in June 2020.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for February 2021 also revealed a rise in new loan commitments for investors (4.5 per cent) to almost $7.0 billion, and a 31.6 per cent rise from February 2021.
On the other hand, enquiries from first home buyers fell to 22.1 per cent in March 2021, with Ms Flaherty stating that this downward trend is expected to continue as government support packages such as the HomeBuilder grant and the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) are wound back.
The report showed that buyer search volumes on the website have jumped by 62.7 per cent compared with 12 months ago, which Ms Flaherty attributed partly to the introduction of COVID-19-related restrictions in March 2020 (including a ban on open homes and property inspections).
The report said that growth in public sector employment has driven a rise in “buy” searches in the ACT on the website.
Searches spike for high-price properties
The research also found that between March 2020 and March 2021, the low cost of debt and subsequent property price rises drove an increase in searches for properties in the $1-million or more range.
This search in this price range accounted for 42.3 per cent of the share of searches over the past 12 months, up from 36.2 per cent in the previous year.
Properties in the $1 million to $1.5 million range witnessed the largest growth in searches, both in capital cities and the regions, according to the report.
There was a significant decline in searches to buy properties valued under $500,000, while the $500,000 to $750,000 price filter remained the most popular (although searches at this level fell considerably below the proportion seen by REA Group over the same time last year).
Buyers in regional areas searching for properties below $750,000 accounted for 57.0 per cent, compared with 35.7 per cent in the capital cities, indicating that they were searching for more affordable properties in regional areas.
The number of property transactions was up 39.8 per cent over the first quarter of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020, the report said.
By state, the largest increases in properties sold were in Northern Territory (68.8 per cent) and Western Australia (48.8 per cent) when comparing the first 14 weeks of 2021 and 2020.
Ms Flaherty said that sales volumes are poised to remain high over 2021 as there is usually an increase in the number of listings brought to market over the second half of the year.
“This, combined with strong market demand, is likely to drive further growth in sales activity over the remainder of 2021,” she said.
Transactions to keep rising
Commenting on the property market trends, Ms Flaherty said: “Australia’s property market shows no signs of slowing in 2021. The low cost of debt combined with an unprecedented level of government support has seen buyer activity surge this year.
“Buoyed by low rates, buyers are searching for more expensive properties than they were a year ago. They are also looking for more space, with enquiries for houses and land surging, while demand for units has softened.
“Transactions are trending upwards and will likely keep rising as more listings are brought to market over the remainder of 2021.”
[Related: Expats drive property sales growth: PIPA]
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.