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Is It a Good Time to Sell a House?

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It’s never easy knowing whether it’s a good time to sell your house. When you put your property on the market determines how long it takes to find a buyer, and how much it sells for.

Throw a global pandemic in the mix, and it’s even harder to know whether selling now is a good idea. 

Truthfully, the answer is different for everyone. Let’s take a look. 

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Is now a good time to sell a house?

Sometimes, the decision to sell is out of your hands. Whether it’s debt, divorce or the need to move because of work – there are many reasons why selling a property isn’t necessarily a choice. 

But, many of us want to sell, for example to move to a new city, or raise a family in a bigger home. Right now, the search for space is well and truly on; the criteria for the best places to live has shifted. Let’s look at the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on the housing market.

Stamp duty holiday 

Whether it’s a good time to sell often depends on whether it’s a good time to buy – the two often go hand in hand. In 2020, the stamp duty holiday fuelled the housing market, encouraging more homeowners to sell up and move on. Originally, this was due to end on 31st March 2021.

In the 2021 Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced an extension to the stamp duty holiday. It ended on the 30th June 2021 (for properties up to £500,000) with a taper to the end of September (for properties up to £250,000). This continued fuelling the property market and has been the biggest incentive for homebuyers in recent years. 

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Change in buyer habits 

For many people, city living has become less of a priority, as the search for space is very much a priority for many. This is reflected by the fact that the price growth for flats is notably smaller in comparison to houses (+1.9% compared to +4.9%, according to Hometrack).

This reprioritisation can be an advantage if you live further out, or in the countryside. It’s not certain if these buyer habits will be changed forever, but it’s the case for many currently. 

COVID concerns

COVID restrictions can create doubt about whether it’s a good time to list your property for sale . After all, the longer a property is on the market, the more suspicion can arise with potential buyers. This could invite lower offers, below what you’d be happy to accept.

Please ensure you adhere to the government’s safety guidelines at all times.

Lack of first-time buyers

First-time buyers are often attractive potential buyers because they’re chain free. However, due to the events of 2020, many mortgage products and deals disappeared for this group. There are also difficulties saving for a deposit during this climate, coupled with high house prices.

Despite this, the government-backed 95% LTV mortgage scheme could be a lifeline for first-time buyers (and indeed those with smaller deposits). This scheme doesn’t just apply to new build properties.

Economic gloom

The country is in a recession, which undoubtedly creates uncertainty about whether now is a good time to sell a property. 

That said, the market doesn’t sit still just because of a pandemic. In fact, it’s clear the boom was caused largely by the pandemic, pushing people to reflect on their living space, as well as balancing home and working life. In turn, this pushed up house prices and buyer demand.

Speedier sales

Property transactions have long been notorious for suffering delays, especially chains that involve multiple buyers and sellers. With the rush of buyers and high levels of activity, conveyancers and other property professionals are now experiencing a backlog which is resulting in delays. Add to this the challenge they themselves face of working remotely, things have slowed further.

Property searches and other checks are also taking longer than anticipated due to the vast amount of people moving. 

Tip: Ask your solicitor if they have the capacity to take you on board and get a gauge of what transaction timelines are looking like. 

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High house prices

Average UK house prices have increased 6%. According to Hometrack, 2021 has been a record year with sales set to exceed the highs of 2007 (1.5m) and over £473bn of new sales agreed. Currently, it’s £95bn higher than 2020.

Less competition

Supply still isn’t currently meeting demand, and there’s no sign of a ‘cliff-edge’ when it comes to buyer demand. This, too, is pushing house prices up. In fact, it’s been a record year for both sales and prices, and there’s still momentum which is likely to continue into 2022.

Should I sell my house now?

Whether now is the right time for you to sell or not is very personal to you. It depends on a variety of factors related to your circumstances. 

You might take the opinion that it’s better to sell ‘sooner rather than later’, or you might decide to sit tight and let the market calm before making a firm decision. For some, there might be no time to lose when it comes to selling.

Here are some of the things to consider and questions to ask yourself:

Individual factors

Many factors can impact how long your home will take to sell, including:

  • Desirability of the location
  • Asking price
  • Property type/size
  • Any major developments  in your area

Best time to sell a house

Traditionally, the most popular times to sell have been spring, or early autumn. Spring (March onwards) is a particularly popular time as we emerge from winter with lighter evenings and flowers starting to bloom. The market tends to pick up as it gets warmer, and things generally just look a lot more appealing.

However, you need to pay attention to local market trends – not just general ones. Work closely with your estate agent here, have them show you specific data tailored to your area and property type. 

Best month to sell your house

How long your property is on the market will depend largely on how much the home is worth, how much it’s valued for and how well you work with your estate agent. It needs to be marketed well, and ensure it’s not overvalued, as this is a common culprit for houses not selling. 

April/May are traditionally good months to sell, which is why many choose to put their properties on the market around February. However, again, this may change depending on local market data. Also, the market is not adhering to normal ‘rules’ anymore.

Can you afford it?

This is one of the most important questions to answer. Knowing whether it’s time to sell depends on it. The cost of selling a property is higher than many anticipate. It includes:

  1. Mortgage arrangement fees 
  2. Solicitor costs
  3. Estate agent fees
  4. Any necessary preparations or home improvements
  5. Cleaning costs
  6. Removal and storage fees
  7. Buyer incentives
  8. … and more 

Supply & demand

It’s essential to get a grip on this. While ‘the hotter the market the speedier the sale’ can be true, there are some caveats. A hot market often goes hand in hand with more competition. But, with a cold market, there is typically less interest.

It’s tricky to, but in an ideal world  you want to sell at a time when there’s plenty of buyer demand, but fewer competing properties.

How do you know if now’s the time for you?

  • Run a search on a property portal as if you were a buyer. What competition does your home face? What do you find?
  • Ask your estate agent about what else is on their books. Are there loads of similar properties selling at the same time?
  • Check out local housing market reports
  • Ask your estate agent about average sale times in your area
  • Ask the estate agent about their hot buyers list (organised home buyers ready to move)
  • Look at current average house prices in your area

Is it a good time to buy a house?

Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Interest rates, mortgage lender deals, house prices, available properties… Knowing whether your property will sell depends on a buyer’s position. 

Should you rent before you buy?

If possible, you could consider selling and then renting (temporarily) before you buy to avoid the delays that a chain might present. 

Pros

  • Could put you in a stronger position, as you’ll be able to leverage a chain-free status as a buyer
  • You’ll be able to get to know a new area before committing to it
  • Allows you to keep your options open

Cons

  • Renting can be expensive 
  • Will delay you from finding that dream home

You need to consider carefully whether this is an option for you; it’s not for everyone. 

Want a speedy sale?

In recent months, we’re seeing more sales agreed. However, the time taken to get to completion can be delayed, especially during this busy period.

You could consider selling via an online auction as an alternative method. While not for everyone, online property auctions present flexibility alongside more realistic, fixed timescales. They can help you find a wider pool of interested, engaged buyers than traditional methods.

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The bottom line

Knowing whether to sell your home now or wait is tough, particularly in the current climate. It’s an uncertain market – but remember, it only takes one buyer to sell. If you’re ready and after careful consideration you feel the time is right, it might be worth going for it.

Want a smooth sale?

A solicitor is a must when selling a property. They’ll be able to advise, guide you through the various processes and deal with all the important paperwork. The right person is key to a smooth, successful sale. 

Need help finding someone? 

Get a conveyancing quote below.

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Last Updated: October 26th, 2021