It's hard to remember such a crazy summer for activity in the property market which, right now, shows no sign of letting up.
Things were already improving earlier this year after the general election – remember that? It seems a lifetime ago! – but lockdown put a lid on many people’s plans. However, despite the frustration and inconvenience of moving dates being postponed, there was plenty of activity bubbling under the surface through virtual viewings and valuations. So when the market reopened after several weeks weeks of lockdown, we experienced a massive explosion of activity from people looking to buy.
You’ve doubtless seen stories in the newspapers about the booming property market and, for once, the reports in the press are a reflection of our working day. There is huge excitement and drive from buyers with all the confidence from after the general election still very much intact.
Another driving factor has been the lack of holidays abroad this year. With travel restrictions in place and last-minute quarantine announcements for returning home, there’s been simply too much uncertainty for people to risk going away. Staycations became the norm for 2020, and house hunting took over from sunbathing.
STAMP DUTY HOLIDAY
From the very moment the idea of a Stamp Duty Holiday was mooted, avid anticipation gripped estate agents and buyers alike. Already in the midst of enormous summer activity never before seen, the July announcement sent the property market into wild overdrive.
As well as many people immediately bringing forward their moving plans, the Stamp Duty Holiday suddenly made buying a property possible for those with insufficient savings to cover all the costs of moving. Even people who weren’t yet contemplating a move decided to make the most of the opportunity, and to use the money they save on Stamp Duty to improve their new home.
Of course, all this increased activity means you can benefit from the increased competition among buyers, which is translating into higher prices for sellers. The saving on the upfront cost of moving has made it easier for buyers to pay more money because some – or all – of the cash they would have spent on Stamp Duty can go towards increasing their offer.
But just because the Stamp Duty Holiday runs until March 31st 2021, doesn’t mean you should drag your feet if you are considering selling your property. With just over thirty weeks until the Stamp Duty Holiday ends, it’s worth remembering that it takes, on average, eighteen weeks to sell a property in the UK: that’s the time from the first day of marketing, until the day of completion.
Eighteen weeks before March 31st is December 2nd and anyone will tell you that putting your property on the market in December is far from the best time. You’d also be leaving precious little wiggle-room for unexpected delays. So it’s wise to give yourself the luxury of time to ensure your sale doesn’t fall foul of missing the deadline: you could lose your buyer entirely, or end up accepting less money at the last minute to cover the stamp duty then payable.
HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Moving into a new home for Christmas has been one of the biggest single drivers in the property market for as long as buying property was a thing.
Even without the financial incentives of the Stamp Duty Holiday, what better way to christen your new home than to begin the next chapter of your life by hanging decorations and putting presents under a sparkling tree? The idea of celebrating the festive season in a new home with loved ones is forever a powerful draw.
As well as overloading on gifts, love, turkey and, well, more turkey, Christmas is also a practical time of year to move, for both children and adults.
If you are a family, the extended school holidays can make Christmas a useful time to move without disrupting your children’s routine, but also a good time if you’re relocating, so your children can begin their new school at the start of a new term.
For adults, many companies and businesses close down for all or part of the period spanning Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, giving you more time to unpack and settle in, rather than cramming it between weekends and workdays.
Christmas is also an excellent time to move into a new home and consider the improvements you’d like to make in the spring. Using the winter months inside to fully experience how a property works for you – and what you’d like to change – means you can interview contractors, draw up plans and lock in dates for works to begin when the warmer months arrive.
All the talk of garden presentation generally involves the blossom of spring or the blooms of summer, but autumn brings with it a warm and wonderful colourscape.
After the sun has turned your lawn the colour of hay in the heat, the cooling months allow the grass to recover its rich and verdant hue. Couple that with a final burst of life from your flowers and mesmerising oranges and golds as trees begin their autumnal turn, and you have a glorious display of nature to make your photos pop.
As the nights begin to draw in, more viewings take place at twilight, and this can be a magical time to accept potential buyers into your home. Make sure you make the most of it by checking your external lighting at the front and back to ensure a warm welcome, instead of a dark stumble up the path.
It’s also an excellent time of year to show buyers just how cosy your home is. If you’ve got an open fire or wood-burning stove, stock up on fuel and get those flames roaring in time to give your visitors the full-on toasty effect. Leave them in no doubt that your home is where they want to spend their winter!
Usually speaking, people view properties in the evenings or, more commonly, at weekends. But with working from home still the reality for much of the UK workforce, people looking to move within their existing neighbourhood are often finding they can view in the middle of the working day. This means they can go to see a property as soon as it becomes available – and in the daytime – rather than waiting until they escape the office, seeing it in the dark, and then having to go back again when it’s light.
For families, this liberty has further advantages. If you have children yourself, you’ll know it’s way more convenient for viewings to take place when the children are out, rather than having to host visitors – or leave the house – at teatime, over homework, or when you’re winding down from the day.
Children are wonderful, but they are undoubtedly a distraction. Having them around on viewings simply doesn’t allow potential buyers the brain space to freely consider each and every room without constantly checking to see if their little one has started causing chaos. Viewing homes when they are naturally empty is making things easier for buyers, sellers and even estate agents!
So there we have it: a never-before-seen alignment of reasons to sell your property this autumn. You could achieve a higher price, save on Stamp Duty and be moved by Christmas to host your family and friends over the festive season in your new home.
We'd love to help you make the right decision, at the right time.