The month of December can surprise many people who sense that people are far more occupied with Christmas plans, parties and the fast encroaching summer holidays, than buying and selling property. The fact is that transactions are often made right up until Christmas eve and this year proved no different with 14 sales completed before Christmas; 5 more than sold in December last year.
Despite this slightly more active December, the final 3 months of 2018 saw sales volumes 9% down compared to 2017 with 41 transactions. Adding to this lower level of sales was a higher level of new listings, with 75 properties brought to market in just 3 months which kept inventory levels over 50 for the third report in a row. Just by comparison there were 32 properties on the market at the end of December last year.
Sales volumes tend to track ahead of prices and as with lower sales volumes over the past 3 months so prices have continued to ease. For sales in the final 3 months of 2018 the median sale price at $1,400,000 was down 16% compared to the same time last year. As the chart below shows the market continues to track below last year in both sales volume and prices as it has done since early spring, although sales volumes look to be edging back somewhat.
Just 29 house sales in the final 3 months of 2018 as compared to a surge of 60 new houses coming onto the market demonstrates the state of the Devonport market which at this time certainly favours buyers. Adding to this a median price which is looking very stable at around $1.6m which should offer incentive for these buyers active in the market. The comparison of median sale price with this time last year showing an 11% decline is a little bit misleading and will be again in January as the market last year hit an unexpected spike when median sale prices for houses topped $2m before falling back through the first half of 2018 to a more normal level.
As has long been commented in prior reports through almost all of 2018, the market for investment and owner-occupied units has been subdued with volumes and prices below prior year, however the market seems to be definitely adjusting. Whilst volume sales in the last 3 months still show a decline, the scale of that decline has slowed to just 4%. The chart below shows the trajectory is likely to see sales return to growth in the start of 2019. As for sales prices the median price in the final 3 months of last year continues to show a decline, down 16% at $760,000 but there are signs of strengthening when seen as a tracking chart of median price over the past 5 years.