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Home listings dropped 20% in 2021

National residential property listings decreased by one-fifth over the year to December, according to SQM Research data.

According to SQM Research, across Australia, residential property listings in capital cities dropped from 272,999 in December 2020 to 218,415 in December 2021. 

Brisbane was reported to have the greatest year-on-year change, with listings declining from 26,643 to 17,487 – a plummet of 34.4 per cent. 

Canberra (down 25.4 per cent), Adelaide (-28.1 per cent) and Hobart (-24.4 per cent) also saw similar above-average decreases, while Sydney and Melbourne had more modest drops of 2.7 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. 

Darwin (decreasing 18.7 per cent) and Perth (down 1.9 per cent) were the only capital cities to experience a year-on-year increase in residential listings over this period. 


Between November and December 2021, listings across the country also declined by 6.5 per cent from the previous month’s total of 233,716, with Sydney (-15.8 per cent), Melbourne (-12.9 per cent) and Canberra (-15.9 per cent) reporting the greatest slip by capital cities. 

Nationally, listings that ran for less than 30 days increased by 2.4 per cent year-on-year, from 66,371 in December 2020 to 67,972 in December 2021. But they fell by 29.5 per cent from the month before (96,346). 

Listings older than 180 days declined by almost half (49.5 per cent) over the previous 12 months, dropping from 101,929 in December 2020 to 51,510 one year later. From November to December (55,256), the figure fell by 6.8 per cent. 

SQM Research managing director Louis Christopher said that, given these figures and trends, the country’s housing market is on track to cool down gradually. 

“While there was a significant surge in auction activity over December, total listings were down on a month by month and a year-by-year comparison. Sydney did record a surge in new listings when we take out the seasonality and compare against December 2020,” Mr Christopher said.

“Overall, there remains a shortage of listings at the national level. As a result, vendors are in no panic at this point. Indeed, they lifted their asking prices for the month.”

As Mr Christopher noted, the average asking price for all house listings across the country in December 2021 was 19.5 per cent higher than a year before, while units also reported an increase of 10.4 per cent. 

The capital city average also saw a similar boom, with house asking prices increasing by 20.5 per cent over this same period, while units rose by 4.9 per cent. 

However, the rolling month percentage change nationally for houses was 0.2 per cent, while units decreased by 0.3 per cent. Across capital cities, these figures were 1.9 per cent and -0.2 per cent respectively. 

Mr Christopher concluded: “Unless we have a surge in listings for the start of the property season in February it is looking like a very soft landing for the housing market in 2022.”

SQM Research’s data has shared similarities with recent findings from CoreLogic that reported advertised listings across Australia were almost 25 per cent below the five-year average at the conclusion of 2021.

However, despite this decline, the same figures state that the total number of home sales in 2021 was approximately 40 per cent above the decade average. 

According to CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless, the disparity between available housing supply and the level of demand is fundamental to the sharp rise of housing prices over 2021. 

“As stock levels normalise and affordability constraints along with tighter credit conditions drag down demand, it’s reasonable to expect growth conditions will be more subdued in 2022,” Mr Lawless added. 

Further, other predictions echo the notion that house price growth will soften during 2022 before levelling in 2023, with reports published by the big four all speculating this year will see a slowing of rates. 

But this may not be automatic, with a report published by SQM Research late last year forecasting that without further action from APRA, there will be a 3 to 8 per cent uptick in prices during 2022. 

[Related: Property predictions for 2022]

Home listings dropped 20% in 2021

Sam Nichols

Sam Nichols is a journalist at The Adviser and Mortgage Business. His reporting has featured in a range of outlets including ABC News, SBS' The Feed, and VICE.

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