Many hold misconceptions over what the terms buyers’ market and sellers’ market means.
Sellers will at most be realistic about the price they can sell at in a buyers’ market, but this price will not go way below the market value of the property.
Transactions that match the expectations of a willing buyer and a willing seller will be made regardless of the type of market.
Sellers always aim for a high price, while buyers always aim for a low price. When the market is high in supply and low in demand, we are in a buyers’ market. When the market is low in supply and high in demand, we are in a sellers’ market.
Having worked on various properties including commercial, HDB, private resale and new launch, I feel that there are a lot of misconceptions regarding the terms “buyers’ market” and “sellers’ market”. People sell HDB flats for several reasons: For upgrading or downgrading, to repay their loans and to sell off their BTO etc. Even when sellers are being realistic about the selling price during a property market downturn, the selling price will never go way below the market value in the HDB market.
If you have previously bought a BTO or are planning to buy another HDB, you will have to “sell one to buy one”. With this obligation to sell, the seller will be more direct in their negotiation as they are slightly more anxious to sell. However, this does not happen in the private property market. Private property owners can simply hold and rent their unit out if they cannot sell at their expected price. It is also highly unlikely for a buyer to find a private property seller with financial problems who desperately want to sell their unit.
Comparing owners of similar units in condominiums, you will find that there are two groups of people. One group will have a very high asking price that is almost out of the transaction price range. Another group will have an asking price similar to the transaction price range. The latter group is more serious in selling. This does not necessarily mean they are facing financial problems, but could instead simply mean that they want to let go of their unit as soon as possible. The other group is simply trying their luck, which rarely works in Singapore’s transparent property market where experienced property agents can easily access price information. Using property listing platforms like PropertyGuru, you can easily sort by psf prices and find the lowest prices.
In a buyers’ market, sellers will at most be realistic about the prices they can sell at. Buyers will not find it easy to make ridiculous offers simply because it is a buyers’ market. The only advantage to buyers in a buyers’ market is having more choices. Conversely, when there are fewer sellers on the market, the situation turns into a sellers’ market.
In my professional experience, whether we are in a buyers’ or seller’s market does not really matter. As long as there are a willing buyer and a willing seller, transactions that match each other’s expectations will be made. With an experienced agent, lowballing the seller or highballing the buyer will not work. Trying your luck rarely works unless you own a “golden unit” with a combination of positive factors like expensive renovations, high floor, five years in age, North-South facing and being a corner unit.