At this time of year, families are preoccupied with school holidays, Christmas celebrations and impending trips. Inevitably, property sales start to slow down. However, for the savvy property seller or buyer, there can be golden opportunities in the lead-up to Christmas.
Are you looking to sell your home? By this point in the year, buyers are likely to be experiencing buyer fatigue. They’ve probably been looking at property after property since at least spring and are frustrated. This can work for or against the seller. Some buyers will end up withdrawing from the market, meaning there will be fewer potential buyers.
Others will be motivated to buy before the end of the year because they are afraid of missing out, or have sold their house and need a new home. This can result in buyers paying more than they would otherwise. Another advantage for sellers is that there will be less stock on the market. This increases competition between buyers and can help secure a higher price for sellers.
Sellers also face disadvantages in this period. Many buyers will withdraw from the market in late November. Those who do sell in this period, might find the buyers want to negotiate a longer settlement to accommodate the Christmas period, which might not be ideal.
Sellers should consider selling by private treaty this close to Christmas. The transparency allows for quicker transactions and can encourage buyers who would otherwise quit the market, after missing out at auctions throughout the year, to make offers. Sellers should consider selling by private treaty this close to Christmas.
Are you looking to buy a home? One of the advantages of buying in December is that sellers might wish to wrap up a deal before the end of year. This might mean they are more open to offers, especially if you can move quickly and settle early. This can lead to a better price for the buyer. Another potential advantage for buyers is that there can be an opportunity to pick up residual stock, as other buyers drop out of the market.
Some sellers will be motivated to sell quickly, especially if they have already bought a home. Keep an eye on properties that ‘go stale’ over Christmas and don’t sell at auction – sellers might take a lower offer under these circumstances.
Buyers also face disadvantages at this time of year. The Christmas period can be a difficult time of year to organise finance. Given the increased number of properties to settle before Christmas, banks can be slower than usual at this time of year.
Combine this with solicitors usually closing their offices between mid-December and mid-January and the property-settlement process can become stressful.
Another disadvantage for buyers is less choice, with fewer properties on the market, which can also increase competition between buyers and drive prices up.
If you choose to buy in this period, make sure you have your finance in place and, if you are buying at auction, to stick to your budget.
Ultimately, the right time to buy or sell a property is when you are ready. Do your research and get the right advice to ensure you are in the best possible position to buy or sell.
Jacob O’Neill is the director of CPS Property.