It’s undeniable that everyone feels spring, rather than autumn, is the busiest ‘house selling season’: but while the weather is almost always better around April, don’t discount the end of the year as a time to sell.
That’s even the case today, after the end of the stamp duty holiday. Momentum in the market remains huge: average UK house prices are up 10 per cent a year according to Nationwide, and agents report high demand in recent weeks – even when buyers knew they had no chance of taking advantage of the duty holiday.
That will continue for some months to come, so what are the plus points of a sale during autumn or winter?
Firstly there are fewer properties on the market meaning that there is less competition for buyers’ attention. I don’t remember a year when this has been more the case than this year. Some agents suggest sellers will get closer to their asking price too, as buyers know they have fewer alternatives.
The other side of this same coin is that it’s easier to make your home stand out from the (smaller) crowd of homes on sale. In the colder months the emphasis is on making a property homely and warm, both literally and figuratively.
The green factor
Secondly – and this is becoming increasingly important – selling when the weather is colder and wetter allows you to demonstrate a home’s energy efficiency. Almost every property on sale must have an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (or EPC) and we’re all more conscious of energy bills right now.
The Halifax says homes with good EPC ratings are worth up to £40,000 more on average than less sustainable properties. And there’s evidence that environmentally conscious buyers are willing to pay a ‘green premium’ – so ahead of a sale make your property as energy efficient as possible. Ensure your estate agent has details of what’s been done.
The people estate agents call tyre kickers (nosey neighbours and those looking for interior design ideas) stay home in cold weather so all those viewing your home will mean business.
Likewise estate agents, who in spring may have more sellers than they can handle, will give you much more attention – and with fewer properties on the market, they will be extra keen to sell your home and win their commission.
And remember lots of buyers see New Year as a reset button – they may be starting new relationships, new jobs or a post-Covid change of lifestyle, so the autumn in particular will see prospective purchasers very focused and wanting to get on with the job.
The sales protocol
On top of this you must, of course, do what all good sellers do at any time of year.
You’ll be familiar with the list: declutter but not depersonalise, make first impressions count at viewings, get legal and mortgage paperwork sorted to help speed the sale, and price your home competitively. And if your move is in the build-up to Christmas in particular, book a removal firm – they are very popular in December.
So, don’t rule out a late-in-the-year sale: the weather may be chilly but the market is still surprisingly hot.