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Is Winter a Good Time to Buy/Sell a House?

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When it comes to the property market, timing can be everything. Many would-be home sellers and buyers wonder if winter, traditionally considered a quieter period in the housing market, is an excellent time to conduct a property transaction. It’s definitely a good question. Many attribute the success of their property purchase or sale to timing with a pinch of luck. In contrast, others can rely solely on the avenue they choose to sell. 

In this article, we’ll cover how the housing market changes during winter, weighing the pros and cons of selling a house this season. We also examine the current state of the market, including trends in price cuts, time to sell, and mortgage rates, and explore your options for home selling during winter. 

By the end of this, all of your questions will be answered, and you’ll be able to decide your best course of action.  

How does the housing market perform in the winter?

Historically, winter almost always experiences a slowdown in the property market, especially when compared with the more active spring and summer months. This trend can be identified by the number of property sales recorded in different seasons. 

For instance, in the winter of 2022/2023, the market had around 250,000 successful property sales. The drop is quite noticeable compared to the 337,000 house sales completed in the autumn of the same year. This decline in activity during winter occurred despite the year being challenging overall for property sales.

If we look at the prior year, in the winter of 21/22, there were around 287,000 property sales, while in the summer, there were about 400,000 property sales.

These differences in property sales during seasons occur due to several reasons. Many sellers prefer to wait for the more active spring market, resulting in fewer property listings. It may not be a case of fewer property sales but just reduced property available. However, let’s remember the impact that colder weather and shorter days can have on buyer activity. There are going to be fewer people who are willing to go house hunting while braving the weather. 

Another critical issue is that winter periods are packed with festivities, and many opt to leave the country for their holidays. So, both buyers and sellers may be otherwise preoccupied, and dealing with a property transaction can be troublesome. 

The pros of selling in winter

Less competition

One of the most important advantages of selling a house in winter is the reduced competition. With fewer homes on the market, sellers are in a great place to capture the attention of potential buyers. Due to the limited options available, your property can stand out more quickly, potentially leading to quicker sales or better offers.

Serious buyers

The buyers who are house hunting in winter are usually more serious about making a purchase. It takes a lot of grit and determination to look for properties when the weather could be better. Unlike the casual browsers, which are more common in spring and summer, winter buyers are usually motivated by necessity or urgency, such as a job relocation. This can lead to more straightforward negotiations and an overall smoother sales process.

Faster transactions

Due to the overall slowdown in market activity, other individuals involved in the home-selling process, such as real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and home inspectors, will usually be less busy. This should translate to quicker response times and faster transaction processes, reducing your house’s time on the market. However, these individuals may also be preparing for their holidays and taking it easy. The idea here is to focus on working with individuals who are raring to go. 

Great vibes

Winter offers a unique opportunity to showcase the cosiness of a home. What better feeling than getting out of the cold and into the warmth of a house? The more homely it feels, the more comforting it will feel to a potential buyer, making it an appealing property. 

Potential for better offers

In winter, the reduction of property listings available can work in the seller’s favour, especially if there are multiple interested buyers. Buyers have fewer options to choose from, and if looking for an urgent purchase, they will be willing to pay a premium for the right property.

Cons of selling in winter

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine – beyond the obvious fact that there are reduced property sales in winter, here are some other problems to be aware of:

Additional costs

Selling a house in winter will require additional expenses to be accounted for, especially with heating bills. Keeping the house warm, especially before viewings, can cost more with increased living costs and other bill costs in mind. This can make the selling process more expensive compared to the summer months. 

Lower buyer pool

During the winter months, it’s more than just fewer people looking to sell; there are also fewer buyers. 

This reduces the number of people inclined to house hunt during winter, resulting in lower turnout for viewings. This can extend the duration of your property on the market, as it might take longer to find an interested and committed buyer.

Potentially lower offers

With fewer buyers in the market during winter, sellers might receive lower offers. Buyers are aware of the decreased competition and may try to achieve a lower sale price than what might be achieved during peak seasons.

Inconvenient timing

The winter coincides with significant holidays, making it a less convenient time for sellers and buyers. For sellers, this can mean challenges in preparing the home for sale, conducting viewings, and coordinating the move, adding stress to the selling process.

Winter weather can introduce additional challenges in the selling process. Snow, ice and bad weather are all expected in winter. However, they can cause delays and issues in viewings, inspections and organising. 

The current state of the market

If you’re considering listing a property for sale or looking to purchase a property, then here’s a breakdown of the current property market:

Price cuts

One key trend observed over the recent year is a decline in property prices. On average, property prices have fallen by 1.2%. This price decrease comes after a few years of steady growth.

Despite this dip in prices, demand in the housing market remains high. There is a considerable number of buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines for a more favourable market. These buyers have been getting ready to enter the market when there are further price reductions. This sustained demand is an encouraging sign for sellers, as it indicates that even with price cuts, there is a healthy pool of potential buyers.

While overall prices have decreased, there will still be differences based on the region and the type of property you’re looking to sell or buy.

Time to sell

A property’s duration on the market before being sold is affected by location, market conditions, and property type. On average, the entire process of selling a house can take up to six months. However, this timeframe is also significantly impacted by the competitiveness of the local market.

For instance, in Aberdeen, sellers face a lengthy process, with properties often taking more than 400 days to sell. This extended timeframe can be attributed to local economic conditions, buyer demand, and property types available in the area. On the other hand, in cities like Leeds, the market has a faster turnaround time, with properties taking around 150 days on average to find a buyer.

These differences highlight why it’s so important to understand the market before selling. Selling in a slower market will require tactics such as pricing properties more competitively or just being prepared for a longer wait. Conversely, in a faster-moving market, sellers enjoy the benefit of quicker sales but also face the challenge of making quick decisions and preparations for their move.

A critical factor in reducing the time to sell is the ability to attract the right buyers. Working with good estate agents who have a deep understanding of the local market can significantly impact the speed of the sale.

Mortgage rates

Mortgage rates are a hot topic in today’s property market. At the time of writing, The Bank of England had set the interest rates at 5.25%, marking a shift from the consistent increases observed over the past year. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), known for providing policy advice on economic and financial issues, has weighed in on the UK’s economic outlook. The UK’s growth has reportedly slowed considerably, and the outlook remains subdued. According to the IMF, the Bank of England may need to sustain high-interest rates into 2024 to manage the current economic conditions. The IMF initially forecasted that interest rates might peak at 6%, but this has since been revised to 5.5%.

For buyers, higher mortgage rates mean increased borrowing costs, impacting affordability. For sellers, these rates can influence buyer behaviour, potentially affecting demand and sales prices.

This must all be considered when getting ready to buy or sell a property to ensure bad judgements or unrealistic expectations are clear of decisions. 

How Sold can help sell your home

Succeeding in the property market requires efficient and cost-effective home-selling solutions. Here at SOLD.CO.UK, we act as online estate agents. To do this, we offer two distinct services to assist homeowners, each designed to cater to different selling needs and circumstances.

Guaranteed House Sale

Our main offer is the guarantee of a house sale. Here, we buy the property directly from you. This option is ideal for those seeking a quick sale without the uncertainty of the open market. It’s a straightforward and hassle-free solution, particularly valuable in a market where timing and certainty are everything.

Enhanced Listing Service

For those who prefer a traditional sale but with enhanced benefits, our Enhanced Listing service is the perfect fit. We focus on finding a cash buyer for your property. Cash buyers are advantageous due to their speed and certainty, as they aren’t dependent on mortgage approvals or linked transactions that can cause delays.

Fully Managed Service with No Fees

Both of our services are fully managed, ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience for you. We take care of everything from listing to closing. A significant benefit of working with us is the cost-effectiveness. Our services come at no cost to you – no hidden charges or expenses, and we even cover your legal fees. To find out more, contact us through our online enquiry form. 

FAQs

Is it a good idea to sell your house in winter?

Selling a house in winter can be a good idea, depending on your specific circumstances and market conditions. While winter may have fewer buyers, those buyers are often more severe and qualified to purchase quickly. The reduced competition from other listings can make your property stand out more. However, be prepared for the potential difficulties in selling during winter. 

What are the Hardest Months to Sell a House?

Traditionally, the most challenging months to sell a house are late autumn through winter, specifically from November through January. These months coincide with major holidays and colder weather. As people are preoccupied with other life events, selling or buying a property usually takes a back seat during this period. 

What Months Do Houses Sell Best?

Houses typically sell best during the spring and early summer months, with March historically always recording the highest sales. This period often sees more buyers in the market, leading to quicker sales and potentially higher offers.

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