When you make the decision to sell your home, you may be concerned about how long it will take and how much potential buyers will pay for it. If you’re eager to move for a job or other opportunity and need to move quickly, you’ll probably list the property as soon as possible.
However, if you know you’ll probably move in the future but aren’t in a rush, timing your listing appropriately may get you a better deal and more interest from potential buyers.
A buyer’s market or a seller’s market
It can be hard to decipher all the news in the property industry – prices are up or down, more people are renting, fewer landlords are buying, or any other number of news stories that may impact your view of the market.
However, you can simplify this down to whether it is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, and this is based on supply and demand. If there are not enough homes up for sale, it is a seller’s market as the homes are restricted in supply and high in demand. When there are loads of properties for sale and not that many buyers, it's a buyer's market and that’s when sellers have to start lowering prices or compromising.
How can you tell which type of market it is? Well, if you’re on property portals and see the same properties that have been on there for a long time, or you see a lot of prices being reduced, it’s likely there are not enough buyers. There can also be impacts from news or world events on buyers and sellers. For example, Brexit caused some uncertainty and sales suffered, making it a buyer’s market. However, changes to Stamp Duty
or a change in mortgage rates might mean more buyers flood the market and seller’s have the power.
A simple way to check is by inputting your postcode into the ‘PropCast’
– a buyer’s demand map. Whilst UK-wide news can have an impact on the property market as a whole, also remember to think regionally. The addition of new services, transport links or recent renovations may mean your area suddenly becomes in demand.
Keeping up to date with property news is a good idea if you’re thinking long term. You can always have a look at our news page
where we offer a breakdown of property industry updates without the jargon.
Changing with the seasons
Whilst properties are, of course, sold all year round, there are certain times that tend to be quieter.
Around Christmas, for example, a property would be likely to be ignored, even if it was a good deal. The festive time of year means even the potential buyer on the hunt for a new home can get caught up with other obligations. Similarly, throughout August people tend to put their home-search on hold.
The best way to consider when might not be a good time is to think about the priorities of the people who may be buying your property. Over summer holidays, the kids are off school and parents may struggle to get on with their other tasks. This also applies to bank holidays.
So around September, when children go back to school and when potential buyers could be hoping to be in a new home before Christmas, you may find opportunity.
Another thing to consider is how attractive your home may be at certain times in the year. In spring, when the weather is getting warmer, when trees and plants are flowering and potential buyers start thinking about summer barbecues, outdoor space and proximity to a beer garden, you may find your opportunities increase. Similarly if your house has a cosy living room with an open fire, people will probably find it more appealing in winter.
The time of year can also affect buyer behaviour. For example, in autumn, the 'before or after Christmas' cut-off might reduce interest in your home. In spring, buyers have a lot more time to browse, view properties and get the process moving.
Swimming among listings
If you do choose a more popular time of year to list, and find yourself in a buyer’s market, you may be competing with a lot of other properties. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but be sure that your home is being shown at its best. Great photos, taken when the property is clean, tidy and clutter-free will be much more well received.
Similarly, ensuring all available data has been given to the agent for the listing (EPC, floor plans) can make your listing more attractive.
If you’re thinking long term and timing your sale, you may want to consider making any renovations, updates or improvements to your property before listing it.
Looking to stage your home for a sale
? Simple changes can make a big difference.
Can you move right now?
If you are considering listing at a certain time, think about what you’ll be doing when you sell – do you plan to buy another home at the same time? Will you sell and then rent? Do you know where you’d like to go when you move?
Whilst the focus can be on selling and getting the most money for your property, if moving isn’t a viable option at that time then it’s worth waiting until you can, even if the property market isn't quite as good. Agreeing to sell your property and then getting caught up in long chains can lead to buyers pulling out, a particular problem if you’re buying as well.
Consider any big life events coming up – do you want to sell before your children start school? Are you getting married, or looking after elderly parents? All of these things can have an impact on how quickly you may be able to move (or find somewhere appropriate) once you list your home.
If you are planning on finding a new home, it’s worth looking as soon as possible.
When are other people moving?
According to our data, we can see that the majority of people who use our site tend to book a removals firm in summer, meaning they’ve usually found their property in the spring and are moving in late summer or early autumn.
Whilst moving home does tend to be cyclical through the year, it’s not always a case of there being a clear cut good time or bad time. People list their homes throughout the year – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But timing it well and thinking about what you want from the sale may mean less time waiting for potential buyers to visit, and a quicker move from viewing to offer.
Other things that matter just as much as timing
It’s not just about timing. As we’ve said, news, politics, regional changes, new infrastructure and school holidays can have an impact, but when it comes to getting the best price for your property, there are lots of other things you can consider that will make just as much of a difference.
Knowing your potential buyer
You know your home. It’s likely that the people it will appeal to are in a similar situation to you when you first bought it. Is it a great city bolthole for a young professional? Is it a starter family home? A commuter hotspot? Is it the perfect home for a large family with young kids?
You’ll know the advantages of your property - after all, you’ve enjoyed them! So when you work out who is likely to buy your house, make it easier on them. Avoid listing in August if it’s a family home, for example, when many families might be on holiday.
Choosing a great estate agent
You want an estate agent who really understands the value of your property and knows how much they can get for it in the current market. If an estate agent suggests an impressive asking price, ask what they believe the sold price would be – they’re not the same. Estate agents may say an appealing asking price but that doesn’t mean they’ll actually be able to get that for you.
Ask what else has sold in the area that’s similar to your property, and ask if they have anyone on their books who is looking for your sort of property. Great estate agents already have buyers ready and waiting, so you may even get bookings before the property is listed! If you're not sure how to find the right estate agent for you, you can compare them online.
Pricing it correctly/competitively
It’s easy to get caught up in how much you think your house is worth, based on how much you paid for it, and how much you need from it. Houses don’t always increase in value, and the more open you are to negotiation, and the more reasonably you price your property when it’s listed, the more viewings and offers you’ll get.
If you want more ways to improve your sale, have a look at our top tips for selling your home.
Updated March 2020