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The conventional wisdom says ‘sell in spring’, but experts say a buoyant local market is showing no signs of slowing down heading into winter.

When it comes time to sell a home many people don’t get the chance to consider the best season to put a house up for sale.

We are often forced to list a home for reasons other than the weather: an interstate move, a new job on the other side of the CBD, a divorce, or simply because we have bought somewhere else and need to unlock the equity in the current home.

But this year, with the capital city property market surging ahead, the onset of winter is less of a consideration. In Melbourne on Saturday, the auction clearance rate hit 81 per cent, according to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria. In Sydney, 89 per cent of homes which went to auction were sold. The clearance rates in Brisbane and Adelaide were 49 and 56 per cent respectively.

If you are among the lucky few who can afford to be selective about when you sell, you could do a lot worse than listing in winter.

Spring is often touted as the peak time to market a property – the garden is looking verdant and bursting with new buds, buyers are emerging from hibernation and there is historically more properties on the market.

But this year, according to the experts, is a little different.

Unchartered waters

In years gone by, winter clearance rates generally dropped off as fewer properties were listed and fewer buyers were out looking for them.

But according to seasoned property investor Ben Kingsley, from Empower Wealth Property Investment, there is a good chance there will be “no winter hibernation at all”.

“We are in a seller’s market and I can see that the momentum from autumn, particularly in the capital city areas of Melbourne and Sydney, will just keep on going through winter,” Mr Kingsley says.

“Generally speaking, markets will see a 20 per cent decrease (in activity) in winter, but this year I doubt that will even happen.”

Mr Kingsley points to the recent rate cut on Tuesday by the Reserve Bank as a significant factor in boosting confidence in the property market leading in to winter.

“We are in unchartered territory here, we have never seen rates this low,” he says.

Director with Marshall White Real Estate, John Bongiorno, also uses the term “unchartered waters” to describe this year’s winter property cycle.

“The succession of cuts we have had – including the latest – has really cemented the notion that we are in a low-interest rate phase and one that isn’t likely to end soon,” Mr Bongiorno says.

“This leads to a lot of confidence in the market.”

Seasons don’t matter

Mr Bongiorno also argues that seasons are playing less of a role overall in the relative success or failure of properties listed for sale.

“Selling according to certain seasons is a becoming a more old-fashioned idea,” he says.

“In my 34 years in the game, spring was traditionally when there was more activity in the market as people emerged from their winter hibernation.

“But these days, and in this kind of market, there is strong sales all year round.”

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Mr Kingsley points out that not only will winter be a strong time for selling top properties at auction, but many “second-tier” homes will sell quickly, too.

“In this kind of environment, what we find is that not only will there be no drop-off in winter, but homes that are second-tier – in that their location isn’t great or they are in a not-so-great suburb – will also sell well.”

While there is unlikely to be any downsides to selling in winter, there are a few things sellers should keep in mind if they want to maximise their sale.

“People with swimming pools may struggle a little more than in summer,” Mr Bongiorno points out.

“But if you have great heating and a period home with a roaring open fireplace it is going to look very inviting.”

Mr Kingsley says the number one trick to remember when selling your home in winter is to emphasise light.

“You need to time your open for inspections for the period when the most natural light is flooding your living areas,” he says.

“So if your living space faces west, then you would want the inspections for the afternoon.

“The hardest homes to sell are dark ones.”

Using the bread maker to create the aroma of freshly baked bread in the cooler months doesn’t hurt either.

“These are the kinds of things that will lead to an emotional or high sales price,” Mr Kingsley says. 

10 May 2015
The New Daily: