North a national hotspot
The Far North has become one of Australia's buyers' market hotspots, with potential home-owners having the upper hand when buying property.
According to the latest Commonwealth Bank/RP Data Home Buyers Index, the region has been listed in the top five buyers' markets in Australia.
The report revealed that regions where sellers held the least leverage and buyers were empowered tended to be primarily coastal or lifestyle markets, where housing conditions have been relatively weak.
Herron Todd White Cairns director Rick Carr said buyer activity in the region had fallen away since the onset of the global financial crisis.
“We still maintain Cairns is a buyers' market,” he said.
“There are more properties on the market than there is demand. The market power is with the buyer.”
The economic researcher said prices had declined over the past couple of years, but the cost of finance and affordability were finally lining up.
“The market is at or close to the bottom of the price cycle but that's a forecast, not a guarantee.
“The cost of finance is much better and there is better affordability, the economy is starting to pick up.”
Ray White Cairns Central sales agent Therese Plath believes buyers are aware they have the advantage.
“I do believe the buyers are active out there, and certainly in the valid price range.
“We did a contract (on Wednesday) for a couple (buying) in the lower $300,000s range. Because the interest rates are attractive at the moment and the prices are attractive - it's never been a better time for them.”
RP Data's senior research analyst Cameron Kusher said plenty of stock and a low number of buyers mean it is an ideal time for property hunters to hone their negotiation skills.
“In recent months there's been a bit of an uptick in people actively looking, but on a historical basis the amount of stock for sale is quite high,” he said.
“While those conditions persist, you're typically going to have a market where buyers are better positioned to negotiate than sellers.”
Conditions are currently tipped in favour of buyers in all states and territories except the ACT, although there are still significant differences between states and cities.
Queensland and Tasmania show extreme buyers' market conditions, while parts of southwestern and inner Sydney are more evenly balanced.
Mr Kusher said low growth in house prices over the last decade meant many potential buyers had opted to boost their savings or pay down debt rather than upsize their homes.
“Any little growth (in house prices) is not going to bother people, because they're just saving for a bigger deposit.
“People are realising they have probably leveraged up on debt a little bit too much in the last decade, and they're now trying to get themselves into more comfortable positions.”
The top five buyers' markets are Southern (TAS), Lower great southern (WA), West Moreton (QLD), Wide Bay Burnett (QLD) and Far North (QLD).
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Bargains: Buyers have the upper hand. photo // THINKSTOCK