Although declines are expected in the holiday period, national listings fell more than anticipated by 9.2 per cent in December 2018 to 328,203, figures released by SQM Research reveal.
The research house said that this seasonal decline is typical as vendors withdraw advertising and inspections over Christmas and New Year.
However, the declines, especially in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, were larger than expected at 17.7 per cent, 17.2 per cent and 15.5 per cent, respectively.
Hobart recorded the smallest decline at 5.8 per cent.
This compares to a year ago when national listings rose by 2.8 per cent, with Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra’s year-on-year listings increasing the most, at 16.5 per cent, 25.4 per cent and 19.3 per cent, respectively.
In contrast, year-on-year results indicate that Hobart experienced a yearly decline of 5.8 per cent, with residential property listings dropping from 2,426 in December 2017 to 2,286 in December 2018. Adelaide and Darwin also experienced yearly declines of sale listings at 4.1 per cent and 2.9 per cent, respectively.
SQM Research managing director Louis Christopher said that his 2019 outlook remains unchanged.
“Our view remains in place that prices will likely fall in Sydney and Melbourne over the course of 2019.
“We note, however, that Melbourne house asking prices increased during the month by 0.3 [of a percentage point] as did unit asking prices in Sydney by 0.7 [of a percentage point]. I also note that national listings are now only up 2.8 per cent for the year, indicating that regional centres may well have outperformed the major capital cities in 2018.
“Listings in December had some large falls; however, let us keep in mind there was a surge in listings recorded in November and that December traditionally records a large fall in properties for sale as this is a holiday period.”
The research also found that capital city asking prices rose by 0.4 of a percentage point for units to $571,600 but declined by 0.9 of a percentage point for houses to $924,500.
The largest monthly rise came from Canberra, where house asking prices rose by 2.5 per cent. However, unit asking prices in Canberra declined by 1.1 per cent.
Sydney recorded the highest increase in unit asking prices of 0.7 of a percentage point but the largest decline in house asking prices, at 1.6 per cent.
Year-on-year asking price gains were the strongest in Canberra for both houses and units, with house prices rising by 3.4 per cent and units by 7.9 per cent.
Year-on-year prices fell in Sydney, Darwin and Perth for both houses and units.
Brisbane and Hobart recorded increases in house asking prices, but unit prices declined year-on-year. This was reversed in Adelaide and Melbourne which recorded decreases in house prices but increases in unit asking prices over the year.