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Property listings remain low despite a modest increase in May. Picture: David Swift


Fearful homeowners remain reluctant to sell their properties despite the housing market being largely insulated from the economic impact of COVID-19.

SQM Research figures published Tuesday showed total listing numbers remained well-below those recorded at this time last year when many sellers delayed listing due to the federal election.

This was despite the lifting of bans on open houses and public auctions driving a slight increase in listings over May.

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The total number of Sydney properties for sale rose from about 28,000 in April to 30,000 at the end of May, but there were still 15 per cent fewer listings than at the same time in 2019.

It also meant Sydney had only about 2000 more homes for sale than Brisbane – despite having twice as many properties.

Few homeowners are listing despite prices holding firm. Picture: Olivier Douliery/AFP


SQM Research director Louis Christopher said current sellers may be less motivated to list than in previous years because they expected attracting buyers to be a struggle.

Mr Christopher noted there was a rise in the number of homes that had been on the market for more than 60 days, suggesting older housing stock was not selling.

“This tells me it is a patchy market with vendors struggling to meet their pricing expectations,” he said, adding the market was nowhere near “collapsing” despite the weaker sales environment.

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CoreLogic data released earlier in the week revealed Sydney home prices inched down about 0.4 per cent over May – the first monthly drop in values in nearly a year.

The median price of a property, based on sales of townhouses, units and houses, was about $885,000.

Home values increased over April and March when the country first went into lockdown.

CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said it was unlikely there would be a major increase in listings activity until spring.

The lack of listings was insulating the market from significant price falls because buyers often had to compete for the same listings, giving them little room to negotiate prices down, Mr Lawless said.