Buying and Selling Over Christmas
05 December 2017
Many people think that trying to move house over the festive period is a mistake, but that is no longer the case. People have more free time and motivation to make a change in the New Year, so it can be a great time to buy and sell. Paul Airey Estate Agents share their top tips.
Make your property visible online
If you are selling, your home needs to be listed and visible on all the major property portals (like Rightmove) over Christmas. People have more free time and will start to browse properties online over the festive season.
Valuer Anthony James says: “We are listing a number of properties now because statistically, property portals show that there is a substantial spike on Boxing Day. We appreciate Christmas is a busy time for families, so we operate a ‘Do Not Disturb’ policy, that is clicking the property on the market just before Christmas but refraining from viewings until after the New Year.”
Senior Negotiator Marie Wardle agrees that sellers need to take advantage of this busy time. “Once Christmas Day is done and Boxing Day leftovers eaten, what do people looking for a New Year move do? Start looking for a new home. Don’t miss the opportunity to sell your house during the holidays; what could be nicer than viewing a very festive home?”
Rightmove say that Boxing Day is their busiest all year, and Client Relations Officer Vivien Hancill agrees that it is equally busy in their office.
“Statistics have shown over recent years that the busiest days of the year for internet traffic on property portals are the days immediately following Christmas and Boxing Day. Our own evidence appears to confirm this phenomenon, showing that during the period from Christmas Eve 2016 up to and including New Year’s Day, we received over 130 telephone calls and 170 email leads from property portals. We even received calls and emails on Christmas Day.”
But why is this period so busy? Director Paul Airey has an idea. “The reason? All those lovely new phones and iPads. It is also one of the few holidays that the family will be all together and most likely at home. This means that any discussions about a move can be had, viewings can be done with all the decision makers present, adults and children, and with a coming New Year, what better than a new home?” he asks.
Spring is a popular time to buy and sell, but winter has its benefits, too.
“Sometimes stepping into a bright, warm, cosy home on a bitterly cold day or drizzly evening can have just as positive an effect as viewing a property on a warm summer day,” said Lettings Director Richard Reah.
“If you walk into a property in the depths of winter, when the sky is moody and the nights are drawing in at 4pm and you still love it, imagine how much you will love it in the summer? If in winter you can see yourself living there, it’s a keeper.”
She has some tips for winter viewings, too. “Always arrange viewings in the daylight. If you arrange a viewing after work at 6pm, you won’t get the true experience of the property, especially if there are grounds to explore. It is important to view them before the night draws in.”
Motivated to move
Those people who are looking to move in December and January are committed to moving quickly. It’s a great idea to make the most of this.
Marie said: “Although there are downsides to house hunting over the festive season, the benefits can outweigh the drawbacks. Houses that are available for sale over the Christmas period have often either been on the market for a while or are very new to the market. This means that sellers are likely to be eager to secure a sale, giving buyers greater control as they find themselves in a much better bargaining position.”
Mr. Airey completely agrees.
“The December and the Christmas period is a great time to try to sell your property as the quality of the buyer is higher than at any other time of the year,” he said. “If someone is out house hunting around Christmastime, it generally means they are motivated to buy quickly. The speculative, non-motivated viewings decrease as people are busy preparing for Santa and won’t go out to view unless they must. There also tends to be less properties for sale around this time of year and therefore less competition to compete against for a buyer’s attention.”
Vivien agrees that there is a much higher number of motivated buyers and sellers, and the ‘the viewing to sale ratio’ is much higher at other times of year. “From a buyer’s point of view, there is not so much competition and the sellers are probably motivated to move,” she said.
Think about photography
If you’re thinking of making the most of the Christmas attention, it’s a good idea to think ahead. “Try and instruct your agent prior to putting up any Christmas decorations,” says Richard. “This prevents the photos from looking dated if it doesn’t sell instantly.”
Ready for the New Year rush
In the New Year, there will be a rush of people looking to buy and sell. Why not beat the rush by getting your sale registered or getting to know the market in December?
“January 2nd is one of the busiest days for us,” said Anthony. “There aren’t likely to be too many viewings happening over the Christmas period, but it’s nevertheless a great time to get some viewings lined-up for the New Year.
“Many sellers hold off until after the New Year and miss out on the busy online searching that takes place between Christmas and New Year. Additionally, because there are fewer sellers listing their property over Christmas, those who do benefit from having less competition than they typically would have in the New Year or spring.”
Don’t underestimate the time that it takes for your home to go on the market, either.
Vivien said: “Given the time it takes for an estate agent to prepare the marketing material for a property including taking photos, preparing floorplans and commissioning an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), we advise our clients to actually start the process now so that they are ahead of the competition and ready to take advantage of these peak periods.”
It is a great time to develop a strategy with your agent to make sure your home launches to market in the best possible way.
“We are currently running a ‘do not disturb’ campaign which means we are preparing properties to market with EPC, floor plan and images before the decorations go up and then launching them to market over the festive period,” explained Mr. Airey.
“We will then start arranging viewings in the New Year when the household returns to usual. In January 2017, we arranged more viewings on the first day back than in the whole of December,” he revealed.
It’s not essential to wait until spring to sell, agrees Marie. “Most sellers wait until spring and then there is more supply and more competition,” she said. “Whereas over the Christmas season, there is less supply but still high demand. By selling your home over the Christmas season, you are more likely to achieve a better selling price than you would trying to sell against the flurry of stock in the spring market.
“My tip for house hunting over the Christmas season is to contact local agents and see what stock they have ready to launch over the festive period, as most agents hold back stock to launch over the Christmas holidays. This way you may get first refusal and will get to register your interest first.”
The property market is still active at Christmas
Take our word for it: people are still looking to move, even on Christmas Eve.
“We have found that year on year we have improved with agreed sales figures in December,” said Anthony. “I am unsure if this is to do with investors in recent years trying to secure a bargain purchase, believing that anyone on the market at this festive time of year will be desperate to sell and more likely to accept an offer, but we have also seen a vast improvement with first time buyers agreeing sales too.”
Richard says it is never too close to Christmas. “Having sold property at 4:30pm on Christmas Eve before now, I have no hesitation in recommending that potential sellers should place their property on the market sooner rather than later,” he says.
“I did have a viewing one year on December 20th, with the completion due the next day. The sole purpose of the viewing was to measure the oven to ensure it was big enough to fit the turkey in, so make sure you take your tape measure to the butchers as well as the viewing if looking to complete before Christmas Day!”