27 Nov 2017
Author: Stephen Breen
If you were asked in which of the seasons you should put your property on the market, winter might not be your first answer. But contrary to conventional wisdom, winter is a great time of year to sell. There is less competition, more committed buyers and it’s easy to make your home look cosy and inviting.
When the weather outside is frightful, now’s the time to show off just how well your home stands up to the elements at the coldest time of the year. Here are the top reasons why selling in winter makes sense:
The surge in website traffic
Property websites see a surge of traffic through Winter, particularly on festival days. Rightmove serves 2 million visitors on Christmas Day alone, with Boxing Day and New Year’s Day both enjoying similar traffic. Agents also report surges the first working day after New Year, perhaps as a result of New Year’s resolutions or people waiting to get ‘Christmas out of the way’ before taking action.
Despite the very healthy market for properties around this time, the actual number of listings does not meet the demand. There’s less competition which often results in competitive bidding and premium prices.
Those who market their properties the right way for the time of year have the best chance of maximising their viewings. A roaring fire, cosy kitchen and snuggly seating areas look appealing to visitors who have just come in out of the cold and can picture themselves in this homely setting.
The calibre of buyers
Winter buyers are not the same as summer buyers who are happy to flit from one property to the next in the warmth of the summer sunshine. Venturing out on a cold, dark and windy day to see a property is much less fun and only something that you’d do if you had to. Those buying in winter usually need to move, either because they have sold their own property or they have been viewing properties all year and are getting anxious to find a new home before the New Year.
Winter buyers are also eager to proceed with the transaction more quickly. Those buying pre-Christmas want to move as close to the start of the year as possible, so it’s important that you’re ready for the move yourself. Getting an experienced solicitor on board early on can help, so that the legal paperwork can be prepared in advance to avoid delays.
The economic factors
The market was once influenced by typical bonus paydays – for example, City workers in London would often see a boost to their pay packets in March. Nowadays this is less common with pay spread through the year, so fewer people wait around for that cash injection before they buy.
Further it’s worth noting that property prices are falling and could fall further. Acting sooner rather than later could secure a healthy price. Additionally, mortgage rates are still low which could change if the interest rates rise again; and foreign buyers may be less keen to purchase when the pound has recovered.
The cosy factor
Winter is a great time of year to ‘cosy up’ your home. Viewers come in from the cold and are immediately attracted by rooms that look warm and inviting. Buyers in the UK are under no illusion that we suffer from low temperatures and poor weather, even through the summer. What they want to see is that your property would keep them snug and warm, even on the chilliest of days. An open fire, wood burner or lit candles can help create the warmth you are looking for. If the property is empty, put the lights and heating on a timer so buyers walk into a warm, lit home rather than a cold, dark space during a viewing.
For some properties, viewings after dark may show off some of the home’s better features. For example, if your property is particularly well lit or enjoys a lovely view that is lit up at night, an evening viewing can showcase these features. Look at your property from the outside and ensure anything the prospective buyer should see is lit up. Don’t forget the garden – solar or outdoor lights can show off features in the dark, whilst patio heaters or a fire pit can highlight the potential of outdoor space.