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When is the best time to sell a house? Is it a good time now?

October 12, 2020 | Michael Whittaker

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When is the best time to sell a house? Is it a good time now?

Given the current climate, you might be forgiven for asking whether it is a good time to sell your house, or when you should consider putting your property on the market.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on the best time to sell your home. These include the best time of year or month to sell, whether it is a good time for you to move, and where you might move to next.  Taking all of these in to consideration should help you decide the best time to sell – it may be different for everyone.

Seasonality – When is the best time of year to sell a house

Whilst certain times of year can attract more buyers, the same can also be true for the numbers of property on the market.  More buyers often start their search in January and September as traditionally this is believed to be the best time of year to sell a house.  However, a lot more sellers also consider going on the market at these times. This often lead to a higher level of properties on the market at these times, creating more competition for your home.

Summer is also known as a quieter time towards the upper end of the market and for family homes, as many buyers are away on holiday. However, it can depend on what kind
of property you are selling.  1 or 2 bedroom flats usually see little drop of in interest during the summer months, for example, as the typical buyer is not affected by the Summer holiday period.

My opinion has always been that when you have seriously considered your options and have decided to move, there is no time like the present. There is no guarantee that the market for your property will be any better in the near future (after summer for example)as of course any overriding economical or market conditions will affect the market more than seasonality.

Market Conditions

Of course many sellers consider that the best time to sell a house is in a strong market and tend to sit tight in a bad one. If you are selling an investment property and not buying anything else then this is definitely the best time to put your house on the market.

However, if you are up sizing to a new home then you can actually be better off in a weaker (or at least a flat) market. As long as you have built up sufficient equity in your home then the ability to sell lower and buy lower can be financially beneficial. You will pay less stamp duty and additional costs, and more highly priced properties can be affected more in slower markets.

For example, if the market has fallen around 5% in general terms, the drop in price at a value of £750k is £37.5k. Compare this to a drop of just £13.5k at a selling price of £450k. This can also affect the loan to value of your new mortgage – offering the potential of a better rate and therefore saving you money.

Finding your next home will probably be easier in a quieter market as there will be more available properties to view. Your position as a seller who is under offer will also be more sought after when you aren’t in competition with lots of chain free buyers, which usually happens in a better market.

What if I can’t afford what I want to buy? What is the current housing market like? Should I sell now or wait?

It can be frustrating if you don’t think you will able to afford to buy the property you want.  However, delaying things for this reason can often be the wrong move.

In general terms, the property market is always rising. There are obviously times within this where prices are falling or static, but in the long term this would usually rectify itself. The property market has demonstrated this over many years. Therefore the risk of waiting longer to either save more deposit or for the value of your own home to rise is often negated by the following.

– Prices rising quicker than you can save the extra deposit
– The price of the property you want to buy increases by more than your own home, making it even more unaffordable.

This could mean that a slower market is the best time to sell your home.  Of course, there are circumstances where this isn’t the case. If you have built up a lot of equity and you think the market is topping out or is about to fall then you could be in a better position if you wait. Equally, if you were to sell your home at the top of the market, then moved into a rental property and wait for the market to fall you could be significantly better off.  If you would like to get a rough idea of your property’s value, you can do so using our online value calculator

Trying to sell at the top of the property market

This is very difficult indeed and most of the people that claim to have done this have just been lucky. If you attempt this and get it wrong, you could end up in a worse position than when you started. If you really do want to try to trade with the market – then good luck!

Some indicators that can be used to give an early indicator of a market turn are;
– Increasing or decreasing level of newly agreed sales
– Sold prices increasing or decreasing after a period of staying the same
– longer time on market and greater need for price reductions
– Anecdotal feedback from Agents and other sellers

Remember that by the time a fall or rise in sold house prices is reported by the media they are usually using data from 3-6 months ago.  This of course means that the market has already changed by the time you read about it in the media.

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