Conventional wisdom has it that December and January are the least popular months of the year to sell a property because buyers are reluctant to view the home of their dreams in the limited daylight available during the darkest months.
However, the Covid-19 crisis has turned all this on its head. We have seen unprecedented levels of supply and demand for houses in the run up to Christmas and expect the mini boom to continue into the new year.
Global pandemics aside, figuring out the best time to buy a house can really pay off, whether that’s in the form bagging a bargain or finding your perfect property.
Understanding the annual house selling cycle
The property market is seasonal. Different times of the year are busier than others and that impacts both the choice you will have and the price you’ll pay.
Several factors impact the ebb and flow of the property market.
July and August are typically quiet months in the property market as many people are on holiday.
On the other hand, the start of Spring usually sees lots of properties put on the market. Improving weather and in-bloom gardens mean sellers can show their property at its best. An increase in warm days puts people in a good mood and gets them thinking about their future making them more likely to go out property hunting.
Mid-November and December are generally slow for the property market as nobody wants to move over Christmas. Sellers typically hold-off coming to market until the new year and buyer activity drops off significantly in the run-up to Christmas.
Many properties are put onto the market in January, often due to New Year Resolutions to sell or vendors looking for a lifestyle change.
The market for family homes is most active outside school holidays. Families looking to move to a new area with school-age children often choose Spring to start house-hunting with a view to timing their move for the school summer holidays.
It’s not just the seasons, changes to stamp duty, interest rates and currency fluctuations, as well as political factors such as Brexit or a general election, can all have an impact on the number of properties available and asking prices.
We expect the start of 2021 to be particularly active as buyers seek to complete before the stamp duty holiday deadline on 31st March 2021.
The impact of Covid-19
The Covid-19 crisis has had an unprecedented impact on the property market.
Pent up demand from the Spring 2020 lockdown together with the stamp duty holiday resulted in a mini-boom in the property market. The Land Registry reports that house prices in the UK increased by 0.7% month-on-month and 5.4% year-on-year in October 2020.
Both Rightmove and Zoopla predict that house prices will continue to rise in 2021, albeit at a slower rate.
Looking forward to 2021, the arrival of a vaccine for Covid-19 could see a return to foreign investors snapping up prime London property. However, the impact of the stamp duty surcharge on overseas buyers remains to be seen.
The best time to buy for a good deal
Despite what you may read in the media, house prices don’t just keep going up. They rise and fall throughout the course of the year. Understanding the price fluctuations throughout the year can help you get a good deal.
House prices tend to be the lowest at the start of the year as sellers may be looking to offload their property quickly, allowing room for price negotiation. Buyers who are prepared to brave the cold weather of the winter months can find the start of the year is a fantastic time to snap up a property. Whether you’re looking for an investment property, a first-time buy, or you’re looking to climb the property ladder, there are a wealth of homes available to buy at this time of the year.
Prices continue to rise into Spring, and often bidding wars lead to homes selling for more than their asking price.
During the summer prices stabilise, as the number of buyers falls away. Buyers who are available during July and August can find they snap up a bargain on a house that failed to sell in Spring.
House prices reach their maximum level in early Autumn as many buyers return to the market, again bidding wars resume.
Prices fall again in the run-up to Christmas as buyer activity dries up.
The best time to buy for plenty of choice
However, if you want plenty of choices, and are prepared to pay for your dream house, April to June is when you will find the most options as a buyer.
There are more homes on the market in Spring than at any other time of the year. However, there are also more buyers which equates to more competition. Though there are more homes to choose from in Spring, expect the price tag to be higher than homes listed in the colder months.
The role of supply and demand
The housing market is subject to both demand-side and supply-side stimulus.
On the demand-side, interest rates, exchange rates and political and economic confidence will affect the volume of buyers. More buyers means increased competition which could result in bidding wars and properties selling quickly.
A shortage of supply generally pushes up prices and means houses sell quicker. Excess supply will cause prices to fall and homes to remain on the market for long periods.
The best time to buy is when there are lots of sellers and few competing buyers.
Prime residential London property is always relatively scarce and tends to both hold its price and sell quickly.
Whatever the time of year, if you are thinking of buying a new home in Wimbledon and the surrounding area, we can help you find the home of your dreams. Get in touch with our professional and friendly team today.