Falling property prices have energised homeowners and made them excited about the future, despite diminishing their assets.
Nearly a third more homeowners said they’re now contemplating moving house compared to last year, Westpac research showed.
This has pushed the total number of homeowners contemplating a move within the next five years to a recent high of 35 per cent.
Most were eyeing plummeting property prices as a rare opportunity to upgrade to their dream home for a lower price.
The median price of a Sydney property has slipped by about 11 per cent since July 2017.
“They want to take advantage of the cooler market to find their forever home,” Westpac head of home ownership Lauren Fine said.
“(Lower prices) have created new opportunities for motivated buyers, opening up locations that were previously too expensive.”
Westpac’s survey of more than 1000 homeowners also revealed more homeowners approaching retirement were considering downsizing.
The proportion with plans to soon make a move was 31 per cent, up from 25 per cent during the height of the real estate boom in 2016.
Auctioneer and director of Auction Services Rocky Bartolotto said homeowners were actually in a better position than they had been during the boom.
“You might have to sell for less, but you’ll also spend less on your next home. You’re much better off,” he said.
Upsizer Robert Oniche said he felt like he had the power to dictate prices when he began submitting offers on properties in Ryde.
“We bought a home we never dreamt we’d be able to afford,” Mr Oniche said.
“The first time we saw it we said to ourselves this is what would we should be aiming to buy one day. I didn’t actually think we’d get it.”
He and his family had long outgrown their small apartment and realised their sale proceeds and ample savings gave them an unassailable advantage.
“The agent called us and told us no one was putting in genuine offers, so we offered way below the price guide. We expected to be rejected but we got the house,” Mr Oniche said.
“In the end, we recouped our losses on the unit by getting an amazing deal on the house.”
Real Estate Buyers Agents Association president Rich Harvey said upsizers would fill the gap left by a drop in investor activity.
Investors had accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the NSW properties purchased in 2016, but have more recently struggled to get financing from banks amid a clamp down on lending.
“Finance will be the big game changer this year … and cash buyers will be in the driver’s seat,” Mr Harvey said.
“Gaining finance is taking significantly more time and the best weapon any buyer has to getting property secured quickly is making sure their finance is approved.”
House Search Australia’s Jacque Parker said upgraders had “the luxury of more time on their side”, with Sydney’s listings currently about 25 per cent up on levels recorded last year.