Navigating a seller's market

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The quicker-than-expected recovery in Australia's property market caught many people by surprise, prompting even some of the most prominent 'bears' to concede that they have overestimated the magnitude and duration of the downturn.

Melbourne's solid showing is not a total surprise for us. In fact, in our August issue we foreshadowed that the Victorian city will see the strongest growth in 2009 - even outperforming Sydney. Data from a myriad of sources have confirmed our expert's predictions for June quarter. Even better news is that a promising growth spurt is spread across all capital cities, including Perth which has seen some the steepest decline over the past 18 months.

After a gloomy year, where much of the mainstream media focus was on a "doom and gloom" property market, we should start hearing more balanced news again. But don't bet on it... the alarmists are already hard at work in turning recent positive developments into even more scary headlines with buzz words of "rate hikes," "looming housing bubble," and "affordability crisis."

While there are legitimate concerns and it would be unwise to dismiss them, savvy investors should not ignore the opportunities emerging at this stage of the property cycle.

As more buyers return, the market is quickly shifting from a slow buyer's market to a competitive seller's market. This means that investors would need to refocus their strategies to ensure they buy well and avoid falling back into irrational exuberance.

To help you get a head start on your buying and selling skills, we featured practical tips on negotiating like a pro. Our experts also discuss the danger of being bogged down by too much research in our article, Analysis Paralysis.

We all know that property investment is a long term strategy, but what if you only have 3-5 years? Our resident expert, Margaret Lomas looks at whether you can still make money within a shorter time frame. We also look at ways you can offload your investment without losing in our article on Exit Strategy.

The market is undeniably on a sustained path towards recovery. While experts have mixed views in terms of the strength of the upturn, one thing is certain, investors who arm themselves with the knowledge and skills will succeed no matter what the market is doing.

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