Well, the Christmas trees are all packed away, New Year's fireworks are burned out and as January really sets in, many of us are starting to plan what our year will look like.

For some of us, 2019 is the year we keep chipping away at that mortgage. For others, the next 12 months means continuing to save what we can towards that elusive deposit and the purchase of our first home.

This year, some people will buy property, some will sell and some will stay put, prioritising other big changes, or just taking a breather.

If you're one of the many who will buy and sell in 2019, it is understandable you may be feeling a little uncertain after the fluctuating market we experienced in 2018.

And as you read the papers and blogs, like us, no doubt you will see view points from various agents and economist who present vastly different predictions for what the market will do this year.

So, how do you know when to buy and sell? How do you forecast how and when the market will change? Is buying or selling even a safe move in 2019?

Rather than add our own predictions to the pot -- and of course, like all agents, our agents do have them -- we have put together a list of 8 hints you can use to plan your 2019 real estate strategy amidst the onslaught of confusing and contradictory insights from various property clairvoyants.

4 HINTS FOR SELLERS

1. What does the changing market really mean for you?

If you do a quick Google search for 2019 property market predictions, the results are confusing, to say the least.

On the one hand, you can read Domain's November predictions, which suggest property prices in Australia will continue to fall in the first half of 2019 (around 5 to 7%), but will start to grow again modestly towards the latter half of the year. They forecast a 4% increase in 2020.

On the other hand, a quick read of the AFR in December reveals a prediction that prices will continue to decline until around Easter and then plateau.

So, what will actually happen?

The answer is really simple -- no one knows!

This year, there will be several events and changes that may have a big impact on real estate; namely, among others, we have elections coming up, Labour is promising reforms to negative gearing, and the difficult lending conditions of last year are potentially predicted to ease.

With all of these and more on the calendar, but results uncertain, accurately forecasting the market is near impossible.

Our hint is to take a common sense approach to your decision about selling property.

Do your research, but instead of getting caught up in the various forecasts, look at the trends in your area -- the information is SO readily available!

Get some appraisals and really examine and explore the comparable property sales that agents offer as justification for their recommended pricing.

Start looking at properties that match your criteria for your next home, months in advance, and attend auctions and watch for sales so you can see how things progress over a few months.

Selling real estate can be and is still a solid move, you just have to be careful not to take the 'Henny Penny sky is falling' mentality, or go into the process too laissez-faire, without doing the legwork first.

2. Sell when selling is good for you!

We've said it before and we'll say it again, the market is not in dire straits as suggested by some of the media. In fact, there are many very lucrative opportunities about for those willing to look. You don't even need to look too far!

What this means is, while your selling decision should be somewhat informed by trends and market conditions, it should ultimately be determined by when is the best time to sell for you. 

People's lives are changing all the time, and never in-sync with the lives of others, so at any given point, there are people looking to buy and there are people looking to sell!

3. Select the right agent to ensure a great result

A changing market can have an effect on your sales result, but what can have a greater effect on your outcome and the experience you have during the process, is the agent you select to represent you.

One lesson we, as buyers ourselves, have learned over the years, is the shiniest, fastest-talking, most charming agent isn't necessarily always the best one. Nor necessarily, is the one who promises you the highest price -- because they may not be able to deliver.

Select an agent with a solid track record, but also make sure you are comfortable and at ease with them. Review their processes and make sure they are not only using the best technology, but their property marketing strategies aren't trapped in the dark ages.

Look for digital media in property promotion, use of data and trends to adjust campaigns, and regular, open communication.

4. Consider new selling options

Did you know most Aussies spend in excess of 7 hours on their phones every single day? The majority also have shopped online (many weekly), and more than 80% will research a purchase online before they make a move.

This is a new year, with a new market, in a country filled with tech-savvy, convenience-hungry purchasers who want to buy online -- consider new sales technology and ensure your property sales process better meets the needs of your potential buyers.

4 HINTS FOR BUYERS

1. Get your finance ducks in a row

Last year was a somewhat tricky year for finance. After banking reviews and regulatory changes, borrowing the cash required to purchase a home wasn't nearly as easy as it has been in the past.

As we enter 2019, we are still seeing some challenges in this area.

For this reason, our first tip to buyers is to always decide what it is you want in a property and then get your finance at least pre-approved. This way you know you can afford what you're looking at and you don't waste your time trudging through properties that are not realistically within your price range.

With traditional and online auction also becoming much more popular, and all offers legally binding, you need to make sure you can front the dollars before you make the bid.

2. Be realistic -- a market dip isn't a miracle maker

This is a quick one and a simple one -- do your research so you are realistic about what's out there and how much it costs.

With media reports last year (and even this year) promoting dips in the real estate market, and more access for first home buyers, it is easy to become confused and think suddenly the unaffordable will become affordable. But will it really?

Currently, one of the most slamming predictions for major cities like Sydney, is the market will experience an average 15% drop (around 8% is already recorded). To give you some context, a 15% drop on a million dollar property means you still need to hand over $850,000... definitely not couch change!

Approach your purchase realistically, do some research, look around, and manage expectations by knowing accurately what your money will buy.

3. Consider your lifestyle when calculating your mortgage

For many of us, when we first see our dream home, the world stops, birds start singing and we envision our blissful life in those four walls. And, when we do the basic math, with just a little sacrifice (or a lot!), things seem to work out just fine.

In reality, your dream home can quickly become a nightmare if your mortgage repayments stretch you so thin you can no longer enjoy life and you spend every minute counting pennies.

When looking at property prices and evaluating mortgage options, don't base your 'acceptable/achievable price' on what the banks will give you or stretching to make it work, consider your lifestyle and what you want it to look like over the next ten years... then re-do those calculations!

4. Looking for transparency? Try buying online!

One of the biggest complaints about the real estate industry is often real estate agents. While most are great, the dishonesty or corruptness of a few has challenged the reputation of all.

Online sales and auctions introduce a new level of transparency and open communication that enable buyers and sellers to really know what is going on and be sure they can trust the selling agent.

You will be kept in the loop at every new event, updated as things change and you will immediately see other offers come in on screen.

This is a New Year, why not try a new way of buying!