Recent market research shows Sydney listings fell 1.9% in January to 20,479, 17% lower than the same time last year.

According to SQM Research, this means the city now has the lowest number of houses for sale since they began recording listings in 2008.

SQM’s director of research Louis Christopher said the January result stands out as an indication of the strength of Sydney’s market - and the demand for stock in it.

“From 2009 to 2010, Sydney house prices rose by 19.6% and listings were higher at that time than they are now,” he explains.

“This is one of the primary pieces of evidence as to why we have been so bullish on the Sydney market this year.”

According to Property Council NSW executive director Glenn Byres, a shortfall in land release programmes throughout Sydney, as well as heavy regulation and high property taxation, are to blame for the shortage.

“Sustained efforts to radically increase housing supply are the key to unlocking affordability in the residential market,” he says.

Sydney is not the only capital city experiencing a shortage of options. Listings have also gone south in Melbourne with a reported a fall of 3.4% to 39,740 in January. This equates to a 5.4% drop compared to the levels recorded this time last year.

However, if options are what you are looking for, it might pay to look in Darwin. Research shows property listings have increased in the city by 23.1% since January 2013.

But, keep in mind this could signal a slowdown in the Darwin housing market.

Christopher says, “Data from the recently released ABS price series also indicates the Darwin market is slowing.”