Is it a Good Time to Sell a House?

  • By Dan Green, Home Selling Expert Founder
  • 4 minutes read

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I'm a property expert that still remembers the days when having broadband was a selling point! My articles cover issues that homesellers face in the UK and answer the questions we're all asking. I've bought and sold properties and helped others do the same, so my writing comes from years of experience.

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If you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, you may be wondering: is now the right time?

From the state of the wider property market to the time of year and even the changes within your own local area, there are a range of elements that will significantly impact the speed and success of your sale.

In this article, we explore a few of the ways in which you can tell whether it is a the best time to sell a house.

When do Most Houses Go on the Market?

So, when do most houses go on the market – and when do most sell?

Of course, many people are not able to control exactly when they will need to put their house on the market – but if you are not particularly pushed for time, you may consider arranging everything to coincide with the best possible time of year for property sales.

Seasons

The seasons certainly have some influence on the speed and success of property sales, as the time of year has a significant influence on household budgets, available free time, holidays and family members being in or out of education.

To some extent, it will also have an impact on how attractive you will be able to make your home appear – as changes in light and temperature are surprisingly influential on the decisions of potential buyers.

Here, we explore the various seasons and their impact on property sales.

Spring

In the UK, Spring is commonly recognised to run between March and May. This is one of the most popular times for property transactions to take place.

Many households will have recovered financially from the holiday season – and the beginning of the year is commonly recognised as a time to make a new start.

The weather tends to improve throughout these months and plants and foliage begin to recover their green leaves without becoming overgrown.

Property exteriors therefore appear more attractive and rooms can be more easily flooded with natural light. This means that photographs taken at this time of year will offer properties a greater appeal.

This is also the season where days become longer, offering sellers the opportunity to provide more viewing opportunities during daylight hours.

Summer

June to August is seen as summertime in the UK. This is a great time to facilitate viewings and to have photographs taken, as the days are at their longest, the weather at its best, and outdoor spaces are in full bloom.

The main downside to selling in summer is that it is one of the busiest periods of the year.

Schools take place during these months, so many potential buyers (and sellers) will be unavailable at this time as they take trips overseas or to different parts of the country with family.

It is also a popular time for professionals to take annual leave, so it may become harder to get in touch with your property sales specialists or solicitors in summer, too.

Autumn

While the weather is often less appealing during the period between September and November, Autumn certainly has a charm all of its own that can be very appealing in property photographs as the leaves change colour.

Gardens tend to lose their bloom at this time, however, and the temperature begins to drop, which means that travelling to viewings becomes less of an attractive prospect to many potential buyers.

The busy summer period is over, however. Children and young people are back in their education facilities and there is often something of a rush for house hunters to find their ideal property quickly at this time, so that they have the chance to settle in before the festive season.

Winter

A range of celebrations take place throughout winter, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and New Year. During this period, between December and February, people across the UK are often extremely busy making plans, buying gifts, decorating and visiting family.

It is also a very expensive period for most, and planning a property purchase or move represents an additional strain on resources and time.

What is more, the weather at this time of year is usually at its worst, with a strong likelihood of rain, snow and ice.

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It tends to be cold in winter, and the days are short – giving less opportunity for viewings during daylight hours and preventing potential buyers from seeing properties and their surroundings in their best light. Trees will have lost their leaves and most plants lie dormant.

For these reasons, winter tends to be among the least popular of seasons in which to sell or buy property – particularly from mid-December to mid-January, when everything comes to a halt for Christmas and the New Year celebrations.

When is the Best Month to Sell a House?

According to a study undertaken by Rightmove, throughout previous years, spring has clearly proven itself to be the best season in which to sell property (excluding 2020, which is seen as an outlier due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic).

Mid-spring to early summer tends to be the most popular time for homeowners to list their property for sale. This means that there are many more options available for buyers – but potentially a greater amount of competition for sellers.

Rightmove has consistently recorded March to be the month during which they see their highest number of enquiries into property sales, closely followed by April and then May.

As mentioned above, the reasons for this may include spring’s association with fresh starts, while improvements in the weather, longer daylight hours and recovered household budgets will also have a strong influence on decisions regarding moving plans.

The worst month to sell a house is invariably December, as the holiday break and stretched finances scuppers any possibility of arranging significant transactions during this time.

The Wider Property Market

Following the boom of the COVID-19 pandemic, property prices remain high. But how long will that last?

Property prices peaked in the summer of 2021, as homeowners reassessed their priorities – seeking out more spacious, attractive properties following the rise of remote working and greater amounts of outdoor space after the numerous lockdowns across the globe.

This increased demand served to push up property prices.

Many also scrambled to make the most of the “stamp duty holiday”. Up until September 2021, Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) was not payable on properties worth £500,000 or below. This arrangement was made in order to boost the property market during the pandemic.

This freeze had initially been planned to end in the July of that year, but was later extended to September.

Even now, property prices and demand for homes remains high. However, mortgage interest rates are beginning to increase considerably – and the cost of living crisis is looming. As a result, many experts are predicting that UK property prices will drop by at least 10% in 2023.

For this reason, if you plan to sell your home in the near future, doing so now may see you achieving a better profit than you might further down the line.

The “Property Cycle”

A theory shared by many real estate professionals is that of the “18 year property cycle”.

While others argue that the supposed pattern is too variable, and that there have been too many outliers, for predictions to be made based on this hypothesis, it is still a popular belief that the property market goes through measurably regular periods of recovery, growth and recession.

According to supporters of this theory, the cycle begins with a 7-year “recovery” period following a previous fall in prices. There is often a slight “dip” around year 7.

Following this, the market sees an “explosion”, rising to a peak between years 7 and 14. From there, prices gradually drop until year 18, when the cycle begins again.

If we take the 2008 financial crisis as the end of the previous “recession” phase, we should now be in the next downturn, which would end in a crash in 2026.

However, with so many other factors to consider, including political upheaval both domestically and internationally as well as the lasting fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to predict whether or not this “cycle” will follow its usual supposed trajectory.

For this reason, it is somewhat difficult to predict exactly what is to come in terms of UK property.

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Your Local Area

If you are in the process of deciding whether or not to sell your home, it is best to explore the wider UK market as a starting point.

However, you will almost definitely benefit from an understanding of how property prices are currently performing in your local area, too.

You can talk to a local estate agent about their thoughts on the trajectory of your neighbourhood property prices, but it’s important to remember that they will be keen to win your business – so they may enhance or omit some facts in order to encourage you to sell.

A little local know-how of your own may help you here. Are any major developments planned for the near future in the area? If it seems likely that they will add to your neighbourhood’s appeal, it may be worth waiting until they are complete, as this will likely increase the value of your property.

The same goes for major attractions or employers that are soon to open sites or branches locally. As more and more opportunities become available nearby, the demand for local property is likely to become greater and greater.

On the other hand, if shops, outlets and attractions appear to be closing down with increasing regularity in the area, it is likely that property values in your neighbourhood will drop.

In order to undertake further research, you should be able to check out recent property sales online. Try to stick to your own postcode or those immediately adjacent during your search, as these will most accurately reflect the trajectory of property prices in your area.

In particular, you should take a look at the sale prices of properties similar to yours in terms of age, size, layout and condition.

Look further back, too, to see whether you can detect any gradual or quick rise in local prices, or whether prices have remained much the same for an extended period of time.

It may be a good idea to do this for surrounding areas as well, in order to compare your findings. Typically, the closer you live to an urban centre, the higher property prices are likely to be.

However, certain neighbourhoods may go through a process of “gentrification”, and while this is perhaps more common near to major cities, some local changes may give rise to this effect in less “central” pockets.

If you live in or near a location that is “on the rise”, it can be hard to know when is best to sell, as any potential “peak” can be difficult to predict. This is one of the reasons why staying in the know about local developments can be vital.

The more improvements that are planned for your neighbourhood, the further demand for property in the area is likely to rise – in which case, it may be worth keeping hold of your home as its value increases.

Your Current Situation

Even if your research into the national and local property market appears to reveal significant potential for your sale, you will need to take stock of your own circumstances before you decide to take the next step.

Firstly, you’ll need to consider whether you currently have the time and energy to put into a property sale. Yes, the majority of the leg work will be undertaken by the specialist you choose to manage the process, but, as the seller, you will be expected to:

  • Research, compare and select an estate agent, auction house or fast home buying company as well as a conveyancing specialist
  • Read and fill in all paperwork correctly and in a timely manner (it is important that you give sufficient time and attention to this – for example, if you make a mistake or an omission on the TA6 property information form, you may be liable for damages)
  • Make any required cosmetic improvements to your property
  • Host valuations and viewings
  • Answer all of the questions put to you by your property sales agent and your solicitor, as well as those of your future buyers
  • If relevant, search for a new property and undertake all actions required as part of the purchase process
  • Prepare and pack all of your belongings for the move
  • If relevant, seek out a removal company to help to transfer your belongings to your next property
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If you do not currently feel as if you are in the “right place” to take on these tasks – and if you believe that you can afford to wait a little longer – we highly recommend that you take more time to prepare in order to avoid stress and burnout.

Your Budget

What are you looking for in your next property? Will you be upgrading or taking on a construction or renovation project? If so, are you sure that – in selling your current home – you will come away with sufficient funds to cover the costs involved?

Of course, you may already have savings upon which you may draw, but if you are relying in any way on the funds you will receive from the sale of your property, it’s certainly a good idea to develop a clear estimate of what these may be before you move forward.

The best way to do this is to work out how much equity you own in your home by finding out the value of the property and then subtracting the amount remaining on your mortgage.

You can get a good idea of your house’s value by asking for a valuation from an estate agent or other property specialist. These are often provided for free, as many real estate professionals will try to tempt you to utilise their services.

However, for the same reasons, you may find that their estimates are given a more attractive “spin” than you may receive from an impartial judge.

For a more objective idea, it may well be worth comparing the most recent sales prices of similar properties in your area and finding an average, then using this as your estimated valuation.

After subtracting the amount of your mortgage that remains to be paid, you will get a good impression of the amount you will receive from the sale of your property.

If this does not yet appear to be enough to cover the costs of purchasing your ideal new home, it may be worth waiting to grow your equity a little more.

If you plan to downsize, you may be able to move more quickly – as it is likely that you will already have sufficient funds to move into a property of lesser value. However, this depends on any other expenses you may be facing.

Your Next Move

If you feel that the time is right to sell, you’ll need to decide on the method you are going to use and the approach that you wish to take.

While traditional estate agency sales remain the most popular option, more and more sellers are realising that this approach can be slow, long-winded and complex. Chains can be long and tenuous and buyers may drop out at the last minute, leaving you in the lurch.

One alternative option is an auction sale – which tends to be more secure as long as bids reach or surpass your chosen reserve price. This method usually only takes a couple of months, and often enables the seller to plan around a series of set dates.

Another option is the use of a “we buy any home” or “fast cash sale” company.

As long as you select a well-reviewed organisation that is a member of the NAPB (National Association of Property Buyers) or TPOS (The Property Ombudsman Service), you are likely to find a highly trustworthy cash buying company that will complete a transaction in days to weeks.

Companies of this kind purchase property directly from you, the vendor, which means there is no need to wait for viewings or offers, no chain and a far lower chance of the sale falling through.

If you decide to select this latter option, simply get in touch with our team of knowledgeable experts today.

We can make you a fast no obligation cash offer straight away – and, if you are happy to move forward based on this amount, we can buy your house in as few as seven days.

By Dan Green, Home Selling Expert Founder

author

By Dan Green, Home Selling Expert Founder

I'm a property expert that still remembers the days when having broadband was a selling point! My articles cover issues that homesellers face in the UK and answer the questions we're all asking. I've bought and sold properties and helped others do the same, so my writing comes from years of experience.

Read Full Bio >

Success rate when selling
through estate agents

Selling to house-buying company

  • Formal offer within 24-48 hours
  • Complete in as little as 14 days
  • No contracts - change your mind if you aren’t happy
  • No viewings or chains
  • Sell your house as-is
  • Sell for approx 80-85% market value
  • Some disreputable companies

Selling with Estate Agent

  • Wait for viewings and offers
  • Delays with solicitors
  • Lengthy contracts - can’t withdraw
  • Viewings at inconvenient times, many will be in chain
  • House should be at its best to impress viewers
  • Get the highest price possible
  • Estate agents are tightly regulated

On average, you should expect to sell for 85-90% of you property’s full value when selling by auction.

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