Is Now the Right Time to Sell My House?

29th May 2020

Deciding when to sell your house is one of the biggest, yet toughest, questions that homeowners who are looking to move must ask themselves. There are many factors to consider, from the time of year and the type of property to the regional market and local developments, not to mention the state of the economy.


This question becomes even more difficult during a global pandemic like the one we currently find ourselves. Since COVID-19 hit the UK back in late January, and lockdown restrictions were put in place in March, the property market has taken a hit. House sales and listings are down, and hundreds of thousands of previously-agreed sales have been put on hold.


The property market has since reopened and there are already some positive signs to suggest that it is in recovery. But the future is still uncertain and “is now the right time to sell my house?” remains a difficult question to answer.


First, let’s take a look at how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected the property market.


How Has COVID-19 Impacted the Property Market?


There’s no two ways about it: the Coronavirus outbreak has had a significant impact on the property market. On March 27, the Government urged people not to move house as part of their lockdown plan. They didn’t outright ban people from moving, but they strongly advised against it.


Soon after this announcement was made, the property market officially hit a slump. By April 7, property sales had fallen by 70% while a shorter supply of new properties were being added to the market. By the end of April, approximately 373,000 property sales had been put on hold, worth a combined £82 billion.


However, the market did see some positives during this period. The vast majority of sellers kept their house on the market while various property portals reported an increase in people browsing properties as a result of them having more free time at home.


Then, on May 13, after seven weeks of restrictions, the Government eased lockdown measures on the property market and allowed house moves to resume. This means that estate agents can now conduct in-person house viewings again, so long as they follow strict safety regulations and social distancing guidelines.


When it comes to the all-important topic of house prices, it’s hard to determine the true impact that COVID-19 has had (or will have). Too few properties have been listed on the market over the last few months, which means there isn’t a substantial enough sample size to provide reliable data.


However, many experts are expecting property prices to drop. In its interim financial statement, Lloyds Banking Group predicted that prices will fall by up to 5% this year, depending on how the COVID-19 situation unfolds. They do expect prices to bounce back in 2021, though.


It’s still early days and the future remains uncertain, but there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic.


Factors to Consider When Deciding When to Sell Your House


There are various factors to consider when deciding the best time to sell your house. Under normal circumstances, these factors are very useful and provide a reliable picture for homeowners who are looking to move.


However, during COVID-19, this picture is likely to be skewed. But if the pandemic ceases and the UK leaves lockdown in the coming months, these factors may prove to be useful once again as things return to normal, so we’ll cover them anyway.


•  Time of the year


Houses tend to get the most interest four to six weeks after going up on the market, so you want to time your house sale to coincide with high buyer demand.


Traditionally, spring is the best time to sell your house — it’s what’s known in the property industry as the “spring bounce.” March, April and May consistently see higher interest from buyers and quicker house sales. This is because the weather is pleasant, gardens are in bloom, and properties are looking their best. Better light allows for more flexible and productive house viewings. And many families don’t go on holiday until the summer, leaving more time for house hunting.


Autumn is also a good time to sell. The weather is still mild, properties are still carrying their sheen from the summer, and there are no lengthy school holidays for families to contend with. With Christmas just a few months away, many buyers may be extra motivated to get a deal done before the festive period begins. However, after October, the market tends to slow.


Summer and winter are generally poor times to sell. During July and August, many families are away on holiday or are busy entertaining the kids while they’re off school, leaving little time for planning a house move. Meanwhile, the run-up to the busy and expensive Christmas period — not to mention the bad weather — makes November and December typically bad times to sell your house.


•  Type of property you’re selling


The size and type of your property can play a big role in when you should sell. 1- and 2-bed flats and terraces, aimed at young couples and first-time buyers, tend to see increased interest at the start of the year, as well as right after the summer holidays.


If you’re selling a 3- and 4-bed family home, you should work around the school calendar. Avoid listing your house at the start of the summer holidays or around Christmas, as these are busy periods for many families. Instead, opt for spring or autumn, when buyers tend to have more time to go house hunting and your property is able to benefit from the nice weather.


Bungalows are likely to be snapped up by a retired couple or individual looking to downsize. We all know how much the older generation hate cold weather, so your best window of opportunity lies between April and September.


•  Regional market


While seasonal trends are generally universal, markets can vary from region to region. This is perhaps more true during COVID-19, as some experts suggest that more people could look to move out of cities and into the countryside as businesses keep the remote working patterns they’ve adopted.


•  Local construction work


Being aware of any building or development work taking place near your address will save you a lot of trouble. Major roadworks, construction projects or a new mobile phone mast being built can not only disrupt your day to day life, but deter potential buyers and scupper your chances of a smooth and swift sale.


So, Is Now the Right Time to Sell My House?


This is the £230,000 question. Many people are taking a “wait and see” approach, and you might be wise to follow suit. However, there’s evidence to suggest that the property market is picking up and this current situation presents a unique window of opportunity for sellers.


Let’s take a look at both sides of this argument.


No, now is not a good time to sell your house.


•  You could get less money — While COVID-19’s true impact on house prices remains to be seen, many experts predict that prices will drop by as much as 5% in 2020, and it will take a while for them to return to normal, depending on how much longer this lockdown continues.


•  A sale will take longer — Although viewings, surveys and valuations are now permitted, they must be conducted under stricter safety regulations. This, combined with other lockdown-related delays that may crop up along the way, means you’ll likely be waiting longer for a sale to go through.


•  It’s still a precarious situation — We’re not out of the woods yet. Although the Government has eased various lockdown restrictions, the economy is still struggling, unemployment is soaring and the number of mortgage deals on the market has halved. If the UK sees another spike in COVID-19 cases, lockdown restrictions could be tightened again and your house sale could be delayed.


Yes, now is a good time to sell your house.


•  Property demand has surged — On May 16, just three days after the market reopened, property demand returned to pre-lockdown levels. Many property portals have seen significant spikes in browsing activity. Experts suggest that lockdown has created a “pent-up demand” for property as people have realised they need more space or have developed a stronger urge to move. With an increase in buyer interest, being on the market now will ensure that you get their attention.


•  Spring is traditionally the best time to sell — March through June are consistently great times to sell your house. The weather is pleasant, properties are looking their best and the longer daylight allows for more flexible viewing appointments. Plus, families don’t tend to go away on holiday until the summer holidays in July and August, leaving more time for house hunting.


However, this spring is unlike any other spring — and who knows what the summer ahead holds — so we can’t rely on typical seasonal trends and buyer patterns.


Common sense suggests that now is not an ideal time to sell your house. However, if your circumstances require you to sell urgently, or you’re prepared to take the gamble, then it’s still possible (so long as the market remains open). You’ll just have to be prepared to probably accept a slightly lower asking price and wait longer for the sale to go through.


If you do decide that it’s not a good time to sell, you can still use this time wisely. Fix that wonky gate, tidy up the garden, apply a new lick of paint to the hallway, or declutter the attic or cellar. Making improvements to your property now will help to impress post-pandemic buyers and improve your chances of a smooth and quick sale when you do decide to sell.


One thing’s for sure: it will take some time for the property market to return to normal.


Why Choose JonSimon Estate Agents?


During this unprecedented situation, talking to a property expert is more important than ever. At JonSimon Estate Agents, we’re committed to supporting all of our clients, especially during a time like this, to help you navigate these tricky waters and make the decision that’s best for you.


Since 2008, we’ve helped many happy clients throughout North Manchester sell their house and move into their dream home. Our property experts and surveyors all have an area they work in exclusively, so you won’t find anyone with better knowledge and understanding of the local Radcliffe, Ramsbottom and Burnley markets.


With a team of friendly, knowledgeable and passionate property experts, we’re here to make the whole process simple, seamless and stress-free, from making that first enquiry to securing a sale or getting settled into your new home. It’s why we’ve received Gold accolades in 2017 and 2018 from the British Property Awards.


If you’d like to talk to a property expert about whether now is the right time to sell your house, get in touch with your local JonSimon branch below and we’d be more than happy to help:


Radcliffe: 01617 231 155

Ramsbottom: 01706 489 966

Burnley: 01282 427 445

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