Despite a slowing property market, the vast majority of home sales (nine out of 10) in Australia are still turning a profit for their vendors. Across the nation, 91.1% of all properties that resold in the December quarter went for a price above their previous purchase price. 

The quarterly CoreLogic Pain & Gain report tracks home sales across Australia and reveals the proportion of sales being sold at a profit versus those being sold at a loss. Over the three months to December 2017, 91.1% of all properties that resold transacted at, or above, their previous purchase price.  The 91.1% figure was up slightly from 90.9% at the end of the third quarter of 2017 but slightly lower than the 91.3% over the final quarter of 2016.  CoreLogic recorded a reasonable gap between the proportions of houses reselling for a gross profit; 92.3% of all resales, while 88.2% of all unit resales were at a profit. 

According to research analyst Cameron Kusher “With property values continuing to increase over the final quarter of 2017, albeit at a more moderate pace, the proportion of properties resold at a profit has continued to climb.” 

Profits earned from property resales over this period totalled $17.832 billion. By comparison the resale losses amounted to just $442.0 million in realised losses. The analysis found that the vast majority of the $17.832 billion in profit was generated by Sydney and Melbourne and accounted for 33.1% and 29.4% of total profits respectively.  As a comparison, these two cities accounted for just 11.3% and 6.6% of the total value of losses nationally over the quarter. Across the nation, a higher proportion of houses are resold at a profit than units. 
According to Mr Kusher, this trend was also replicated across the combined capital city and combined regional markets.  Sydney was the only region to record a greater proportion of units resold for a profit over the quarter than houses, although Hobart had an equivalent share for houses and units.   

“Over recent years, value growth for units has substantially underperformed that of houses, as a result in most regions of the country a higher proportion of houses resold for a profit than units,” Mr Kusher said. 

In Melbourne, units were almost 10 times more likely to resell at a loss than houses while in Brisbane units were almost 9 times more likely to resell at a loss than houses. In Canberra units were 7.4 times more likely to resell at a loss than houses. 

Capital Cities

For the capital cities, the proportion of houses reselling at a gross profit was higher over the quarter in Brisbane, Adelaide and Darwin but lower elsewhere.  For units, there was a higher proportion of resales at a profit over the quarter in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra. 

Regional Markets 

For the regional housing markets, the proportion of houses reselling for a profit increased over the quarter in Regional NSW, Regional Vic, Regional WA and Regional Tas.  For units, profit-making resales increased over the quarter in all regions except for Regional NT. 

The regions now showing the lowest proportion of resales at a loss are those surrounding Sydney and Melbourne. At the other end of the spectrum, three regions, all of which are linked to the resources sector, recorded at least half of all resales at a loss over the quarter.  The regions nationally with the highest proportion of resales at a loss are typically linked to the resources sector.  It should be noted that in many of these regions the share of losses is now lower than at the peak however instances of loss remain elevated; a reflection that housing values remain well below their peaks in these areas. 

Investors vs Owner Occupiers

Investors continued to be more likely to resell their properties at a loss than owner occupiers during the final quarter of 2017.  Over the quarter, 7.5% of owner occupied properties sold at a loss compared to the 11.3% of investor owned properties.  Sydney was the only major region of the country in which a higher proportion of investors resold their property at a loss than owner occupiers. 

93.9% of capital city properties resold by owner occupiers transacted at a profit over the December 2017 quarter compared to 90.7% of investor owned properties.  Throughout all capital cities the gap in profit making-resales between owner occupiers and investors was not that large however, across individual cities the results were much more varied.   Melbourne investors were 4 times more likely to resell a property at a loss than an owner occupier, in Brisbane investors were 2.6 times as likely to sell at a loss and in Canberra they were 5.2 times as likely to sell for a loss. 

Across the regional areas of the country, investors were much more likely to resell a property for a loss (15.3%) than owner occupiers (9.8%). While in each region owner occupiers were more likely than investors to resell for a profit, the gap between the two vendor type performances was nowhere near as great in regional areas as what was recorded in some capital city markets. 

Mr Kusher said, “Clearly, any property owner will aim to make a profit from the sale of their property.  

“In a falling market owner occupiers may be more prepared to sell at a loss if they are purchasing their next home at an equivalent or greater discount.  Meanwhile, investors, because of taxation rules, would seemingly be more prepared to incur a loss because they, unlike owner occupiers, can offset those loses against future capital gains.”  

“If home values fall, investors may be more inclined to sell at a loss and offset those losses which in turn could result in much more supply becoming available for purchase at a time in which demand for housing falls because values are declining.” 
“More up-to-date dwelling value data has shown that in most capital cities dwelling values have been falling over recent months while regional values have continued to increase, albeit at a slower pace. These trends are expected to continue in 2018 and given that it should be expected that the proportion of properties reselling at a profit may begin to reduce over the coming quarters,” he said.