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  • Jason Praill

Is now a good time to sell a house? I can't find anything to buy!...


It’s never easy knowing whether it’s a good time to sell your house, but many homeowners are holding back listing their homes for sale due to a lack of available property to buy thus causing a stalemate.

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 area, 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.


Change in buyer habits

For some people, city living has become less of a priority, as the search for space is very much a priority for many. This has been 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.


Change in mortgage rates

As we emerge from winter, with lighter evenings and signs of life in the garden, spring has traditionally been marked on the housing market calendar as the best time to sell.


However, the extra nudge this spring, spurring on homebuyers to take action will be the recent interest rate rises and those that potentially lie ahead.


First-time buyers

First-time buyers are often attractive potential buyers because they’re chain free. But for some, the increase in house prices over the past 12 to 18 months has made it difficult to buy their first home and have been forced to put their plans on hold.


However, for others, a range of factors including low borrowing costs and government guarantees for mortgages have arguably helped them to take their first step on to the property ladder.


As a result, the number of first-time buyer transactions in 2021 is estimated to have hit its highest level since 2002, according to a new estimate from Yorkshire Building Society.


However, with interest rates creeping up it is felt unlikely that first-time buyer numbers will continue at this level during 2022 and beyond.


March: Strongest month to sell

In a recent report from Rightmove, they report March as seeing the highest number of enquiries per property on sale, despite new listings also peaking in March.


As we’ve seen, 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.


The ‘race for space’ continues with both Rightmove and Zoopla having cited searches for gardens up by as much as 70% over the last two years.


Rightmove also reports April as the next-strongest month to sell a property, closely followed by May.


Speedier sales

Property transactions have long been notorious for suffering delays, especially chains that involve multiple buyers and sellers. But there is a way to avoid this and secure a speedy sale of your property.


Online property auctions have increased in popularity in recent years, often referred to as ‘the modern method of selling’.


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.


High house prices

Average UK house prices have increased 6%. According to Hometrack, 2021 saw 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 that is likely to continue through 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:


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


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. Choose a good estate agent and work closely with them, have them show you specific data tailored to your area and property type.


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.


As we’ve highlighted March/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:


Mortgage arrangement fees

Solicitor costs

Estate agent fees

Any necessary preparations or home improvements

Cleaning costs

Removal and storage fees

Buyer incentives

… 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



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.


The bottom line

Knowing whether to sell your home now or wait can be tough. It's a very personal decision – 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.


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