Selling your home is an important decision that sets in train a long and sometimes complicated transaction journey. Of course, we all want to achieve the highest possible price for our property, so is there a best time of the year to sell? And is it during springtime, as many would suggest?
The seasoned team of conveyancers and surveyors at Daily Move know only too well that there are many factors involved in getting the best price for your home. If there was a magic formula, they would know about it. However, it is much more realistic to look for cyclical peaks, troughs and patterns in the market that can inform your actions and enable you to gauge when is the best time to sell, buy or stay put.
Always assuming, of course, that you are at liberty to sell whenever market conditions are most favourable. Most property transactions are driven by personal circumstance rather than pure financial timing. What’s more, different rules may apply to property in London where the speed of transaction is high, as opposed to coastal homes or houses in the country where the market may simply not move as quickly.
Another reason why it is difficult to determine the best time of year to sell property is that the ‘sale’ is better viewed as a process that starts with marketing your property and ends with the completion of the sale and handover of the keys. Depending on location, the average time it takes to sell a house in the UK is 4-10 weeks.
So, when Land Registry data show that sales figures rise sharply in April and peak in August, they refer to completions of sales of properties that will have been marketed for a number of weeks or months beforehand.
Spring is widely considered to be the best time to sell a home. With the winter months firmly behind us, the arrival of the warmer weather sees an upsurge of active interest from property buyers. The weather factor should not be underestimated. It puts people in a brighter mood, thinking of summer and the future, which prompts a large number of us to get up and go house hunting.
For families, looking for property in the spring is a popular option. They will more than likely be looking to complete the purchase by the end of the summer holidays, so their children can join the new school at the beginning of the academic year.
And don’t forget that everything just looks better in the spring. The sunnier weather will be hugely helpful when it comes to presenting your property, while a lush, green garden in full bloom can create the most appealing and colourful setting.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Photographs taken of your property for the estate agent particulars and/or online listing will look their best and most inviting during springtime. Even if your home isn’t in the best condition – though every estate agent will advise you to remedy obvious defects before you put your house on the market – carrying out a spring clean before listing your property can make the world of difference to potential buyers. Remember: you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Selling your property in the summer can be a double edged sword. It’s a busy time for families, with many people away on holiday or busy with childcare commitments, which means that house hunting is put on the back burner. If you are targeting the family market, July and August are likely to see a noticeable drop in demand.
However, there is still a lot of market activity in other sectors, particularly for smaller homes and flats. Potential buyers may actually have more time and inclination to go house hunting during the summer months when the feelgood factor is high and there’s still plenty of time to realise their property dreams by the end of the year.
Location is also a big factor. If you are selling a coastal or countryside home, it is advisable to list it during spring and summer when both the warmer weather and the appealing setting can make for a very desirable proposition. This time of year is also likely to catch older buyers looking for a holiday or retirement home in a nice location.
Once the school holidays are over, the property market tends to pick up, making autumn a great time to put your house on the market. That said, it’s good advice to get your property listed in early September to maximise your chances of a successful completion by Christmas. Nobody likes to move house over Christmas, and it’s a well known fact that demand slows down significantly from November onwards.
Early autumn can be an attractive time of year, showing off your home before the winter sets in. Take note that while a few autumn leaves on the ground can look picture postcard, a drive and garden covered in sodden leaves is not a great look. If you’re selling your home in the autumn, be extra vigilant and make sure your garden is leaf free and tidy before every house viewing.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Christmas dominates everything that happens in wintertime, and that includes the housing market. With people’s attentions firmly focused on the upcoming festivities, November and December in particular can be a difficult time to sell your home. If you’re not going to be ready to put your house on the market early on in the autumn, it may be best to wait until January, when the market picks up again.
That said, if you do decide to sell your home in the run-up to Christams, make sure you tap into the advantages that only the winter season can bring: the homely welcome of a cosy home, the warmth of an open fire or an inviting hot drink – all against the backdrop of a cold wintery day – can work wonders to make your potential buyers feel at home straight away.
Making the right decision
While keeping an eye on seasonal market variations is a shrewd move for any potential property seller, it shouldn’t be the only factor influencing your decision to go to market. More importantly, the timing must be right for your personal situation. If you rush to market without adequate preparation, you could set yourself up for a fall.
Finally, make sure your home is ready to go to market. Attend to any minor (or even major) defects and cosmetic improvements that will make your property more valuable to potential buyers, and fix what you can. Presentation is key – so get your house ship shape and see it sell faster.