Whether you make a profit selling your home depends a lot on when you bought it.
In the three months to March, 90 per cent of homes sold fetched more than their purchase price, according to RP Data’s “Pain and Gain” report.
But the rest sold at a loss.
A year ago, that figure was 12 per cent, or nearly one in eight, sold at a loss.
The average loss on sales in the March quarter was $60,544, while the average gain was nearly four times bigger, at $225,088.
These gains and losses don’t include costs like maintenance or debt servicing, nor do they include rental income.
While real estate agents are fond of saying the three most important attributes of a property are location, location and location, the timing of the purchase makes a huge difference too.
Only 12 per cent of properties sold at a loss in the March quarter were bought within the past three years, and that proportion rises to over 19 per cent for properties acquired three to five years ago.
The proportion of loss-making sales declines the further back the purchase was made, falling as low as 0.4 per cent for periods of 15 years or more.
But location still matters.
In Sydney, loss-making transactions made up only three per cent of total sales in the March quarter.
At the other end of the spectrum, regional Queensland had 23 per cent of sales at less than the purchase price.
The weakness in regional Queensland mostly reflected previously weak conditions in “lifestyle markets”, and increasing weakness in areas linked to the resources sector, RP Data said.
Those lifestyle markets included Wide Bay and Gold Coast, with more than one in four sales in the red, but things may be turning around in those areas.
“It is important to note that across lifestyle areas the proportion of loss making sales is reducing as we start to see some low levels of value growth return to these housing markets,” RP data said.
When the figures are broken down into local council areas, they show some wide divergences.
At one extreme, Sydney’s Hunters Hill had no loss-making sales, with the median (the middle in a ranked list) property yielding a gross profit of $400,000.
At the other extreme, in Hobart’s Brighton, one in three homes were sold at a loss, albeit at a median amount of only $8,000, while the median profit on the other two thirds was a modest $52,500.