6 things you can do when there is no property for sale in Winter

Why is there so little property for sale in Winter?  

At this time of year, we are used to scarce listings and it’s common for real estate agents to go skiing or take their annual European vacation. This year is no different, with stock levels typically low. Actually, some agents are complaining that listings are down even further than last year in their suburb! This has prompted me to ponder the options that buyers have when there is so little property for sale in Winter. 

Buying and selling property goes hand-in-hand. When there is nothing to buy, would-be sellers aren’t confident enough to list their property because they worry that they won’t be able to buy back into the market. So, there’s nothing to buy… it turns into a vicious cycle. What are your options if you can’t find a house to buy?

1. Entice someone to sell

Some people consider their home to always be for sale… at the right price. Enticing somebody like this to sell will really come down to the dollars. Active local real estate agents will know who the opportunistic sellers are, so if you are willing to pay up and they think they can do a bit of match-making, they will.

It must be said, however, that this is the most expensive way to go about buying a new home because you will have to pay a significant premium in order to get an offer accepted. The only way it might be justifiable is if you have found a property that is EXACTLY what you are after and this one is seriously one of a kind.

You could try a letter-box drop and it might work in about 0.001% of cases. This strategy relies completely on luck. It’s next to impossible, but if you have free time on your hands, why not give it a try? Just be aware that owners approached in this manner usually whack a minimum premium of 25% over market value.

2. Do a swap

If the stars line up you might be able to find somebody who wants to downsize and would love your place (or vice-versa if you are sitting on a family home). All you would have to do is negotiate a change-over price. Wouldn’t this be a dream come true? Believe it or not, I have actually heard of this happening, but of course, it is extremely rare and agreeing on the price can be difficult. You need to get the jungle drums beating to try to find the ideal candidate, so spread the word amongst the locals and utilize social media.

3. Extend your own place

In some inner city suburbs there will always be a shortage of homes that would suit a family, so you could be looking for years and never find one. If you love living there and can’t bear to leave the area, you might need to consider extending and/or renovating your current place. The first step is to get in a local architect so you can find out how much extra space you might be able to achieve. This meeting might knock the idea on the head, but if there is scope, it could be worth doing. It probably still wouldn’t be your “ideal” home, but the benefit will be that you can stay put (once you have moved back in after the builders finish, of course!) A bit of short term pain for long term gain…

4. Rent a bigger home and rent your place out

This is a great option if you are bursting at the seams and can’t find somewhere to buy. This way you don’t bail out of the property market. Depending on how your finance is structured, there may even be some tax benefits in doing this, which I am sure would make the idea much more appealing.

5. Wait it out

If your need to move isn’t pressing, take your time! Remember that the property market is seasonal.  While there may not be much property for sale in Winter, there will typically be a large number of new listings come on during Spring. 

6. Hire a buyers’ agent

Murphy’s Law will have it that the perfect property will come onto the market on the very weekend that you decide to go away. Our clients don’t miss a listing and they can focus on all the other aspects of their life while we do the hunting. We know about off-market listings and if a selling agent has a vendor that could be enticed to sell, we find out about it. And over and above this, our clients don’t panic because we reassure them when market conditions are typical for the time of year.

Further Reading:

Can I buy another house before I sell mine?

7 most common home buyer mistakes that cost them in a buyers market

Should you buy first or sell first?

Original Publish Date:  1 August, 2016

Updated: 18 July 2018
Updated: 11 June 2019


Good Deeds blogs/buyers tips are intended to be of a general nature. Please contact us for advice that is specific to your individual circumstances. You may also need to get advice from other professionals such as an accountant, mortgage broker, financial planner or solicitor.

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