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Christmas... Should I Buy or Sell Property?

Here are two fantastic articles published online about the positives and pitfalls of selling or buying a home at Christmas Time.



Many people think that trying to move house over the festive period is a mistake, but that is no longer the case and has been this way for a number of years now. If you stop and think about it, it makes sense, people have more free time and motivation to make a change in the New Year, so it can be a great time to buy and sell.


Make your property visible online


People have a lot more time over Christmas and will start to browse properties online over the festive season, especially on Boxing Day. If you are selling, your home needs to be listed and visible on all the property portals (especially Rightmove) over Christmas.


For the last few years, statistically, property portals show that there is a substantial spike on Boxing Day. What do people do on Boxing day? They eat left over Turkey, hit the shops and browse the major property portals looking for their next home.


Christmas is a busy time for families, so don't worry about viewings over the break, listing the property on the market just before Christmas ensures your property is visible but viewings won't start until after the New Year.


Statistics have shown over recent years that the busiest days of the year for internet traffic on property portals are the days immediately following Christmas and Boxing Day.


But why is this period so busy? One reason? It is one of the few holidays that the family will be together, meaning those discussions that have been put off for the last few months can be had.


Winter weather


Spring is a popular time to buy and sell, but winter has its benefits, too. Sometimes stepping into a bright, warm, cosy home on a bitterly cold day or drizzly evening can have just as positive an effect as viewing a property on a warm summer day.


Some tips for winter viewings, too. Always arrange viewings in the daylight. If you arrange a viewing after work at 6pm, you won’t get the true experience of the property, especially if there are grounds to explore. It is important to view them before the night draws in.


Motivated to move


Those people who are looking to move in December and January are committed to moving quickly. It’s a great idea to make the most of this.


December and the Christmas period can be a great time to try to sell your property as the quality of the buyer is higher than at any other time of the year. If someone is out house hunting around Christmas time, it generally means they are motivated to buy quickly. The speculative, non-motivated viewings decrease as people are busy preparing for Santa and won’t go out to view unless they must. There also tends to be less properties for sale around this time of year and therefore less competition to compete against for a buyer’s attention.


Ready for the New Year Rush


In the New Year, there will be a rush of people looking to buy and sell. Why not beat the rush by getting your sale registered or getting to know the market in December?


January is one of the busiest times for estate agents. There aren’t likely to be too many viewings happening over the Christmas period, but it’s nevertheless a great time to get some viewings lined-up for the New Year. Many sellers hold off until after the New Year and miss out on the busy online searching that takes place between Christmas and New Year.


Additionally, because there are fewer sellers listing their property over Christmas, those who do benefit from having less competition than they typically would have in the New Year or spring.


Don’t underestimate the time that it takes for your home to go on the market either. Given the time it takes for an estate agent to prepare the marketing material for a property including home staging and professional photos, preparing floorplans and commissioning an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), we advise our clients to start the process now so that they are ahead of the competition and ready to take advantage of these peak periods.


It is a great time to develop a strategy with your agent to make sure your home launches to market in the best possible way.


It’s not essential to wait until spring to sell, most sellers wait until spring but waiting till spring can mean there is more supply and more competition. Whereas over the Christmas season, there is less supply but still high demand. By selling your home over the Christmas season, you are more likely to achieve a better selling price than you would trying to sell against the flurry of stock in the spring market.


What are the pros and cons for sellers?


Pros


In general there are less houses on the market at this time of year and usually short supply = higher cost which is great for you sellers as buyers have less choice


Most buyers looking at this time are serious about securing a home so they will not only be willing to pay a bit more to secure it before the new year but they will also want the process to move quickly, double bonus!


Websites like Rightmove have made it a lot easier for people to look for their new home, so buyers can continue to search in front of their favourite Christmas movie


And when it comes to finding a time for a viewing, people are normally more free this month than during their normal work schedules, so can come at more sociable hours


Cons


Bear in mind that estate agents close over the Christmas period - so if you are leaving your home on the market between 21st December - 3rd January make sure your agent is available. Coast To Castle operates by mobile phone and email so we won't disappear during the holiday period


And it’s not just estate agents who close - your solicitors and the council will be off too - so make sure all your paperwork is in place before the start of the holidays e.g. planning permissions


Obviously this affects buyers too - over Christmas people may take a well-deserved break from work and house hunting so be prepared for fewer buyers in your area or people searching online than usual


For those buyers still looking they could use this in their favour - and may try to negotiate a lower price


What some homeowners forget about at Christmas is the decorations - your home may be more cluttered than usual with a tree, cards and presents. So as not to distract the buyer we recommend sticking to decorations that complement your existing colour scheme - it will help them imagine themselves in your home.


What are the pros and cons for buyers?


Pros


The cold weather and party season may put people off house hunting so there will be less people booking viewings, meaning less competition and less likelihood of open houses, so you’ll have more time in the property on your own.


The seller may not have received much interest if their home is still available this late in the year which could give you a lot of flexibility in negotiating the price


Also those sellers who are continuing to market their property at this time are motivated to move home so they will want to make sure things run quickly and smoothly and will be prepared for the sale to go through straight away


If you're buying to let, its the perfect time to get everything ready for the busiest rental period of the year - January!


Cons


When fewer houses are on the market, those that are can be more expensive if there is a lot of demand in that area. Fewer properties means less choice, which in turn stimulates fiercer competition between buyers who don’t want to miss the boat - so do your research on the area before visiting the property. If you have a distinct idea of what kind of home you want and where you want to live, you may find it more difficult at this time of year


One thing to note when buying at this time is that many of the companies you will use to conduct your property searches, surveys etc. may have closed up shop for Christmas. This is particularly important for your legal and financial matters - so make sure your solicitor is clued up beforehand and you have your mortgage in principle ready to go before the start of the season - otherwise your dream home may be snapped up by someone else who’s ready to go


Christmas will certainly give you a warm, fuzzy feeling about the home you're visiting but beware - sometimes the decorations can distract you from the details. Try and visualise the home when it isn't Christmas - if that means peeking behind the Christmas tree to get a view out of the garden then don’t be afraid to ask the seller


So whether you're buying or selling, what you choose to do will depend on how things have been going with your sale or home search so far.


Sellers, remember you only need to find one buyer to sell your home and it’s likely the buyers will be more genuine at Christmas.


Buyers if you don’t find that dream place by the end of the year, don't fret, there will be without doubt a surge of new listings in the new year.


What better Christmas present is there than a new home?

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