It may seem unusual to some to sell a house over the festive period, however, the property market is very much still active at this time of the year. The number of post-Christmas home buyers to browse for properties on Rightmove increases every year, with visits on Boxing Day last year 54% higher than the previous year. People have more free time and motivation to make a change in time for the New Year, so it can be a great time to buy and sell.
With this in mind, here are our top tips for buying and selling over Christmas.
An online presence is vital
If you are selling your home then needs to be listed and visible on all the major property portals (like Rightmove) over Christmas. People will tend to have more free time and will start to browse properties online over the festive season.
Ailsa Mather from Andrew Coulson explains: “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.”
Simon Miller from Holroyd Miller agrees that sellers need to take advantage of this busy time. “Once Christmas Day is done and Boxing Day leftovers are eaten, what do people looking for a New Year move do? They 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 Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris 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? One reason could be due to the new phones and tablets that people are often gifted at Christmas. 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 viewings and a move can be had with all the decision makers present. With the upcoming New Year, there's no better fresh start than a new home.
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.
Tip: Try to 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
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.
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. Sellers with properties that have been listed for a while are likely to be eager to secure a sale, putting buyers in a much better bargaining position.
Simon Davies from Norman F Brown said:
“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. 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.”
Justin Flanagan from Charles Eden 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,” he 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 Royston & Lund. “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 Drivers & Norris. “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.
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), it is advisable for sellers to start the process now to get ahead of the competition and take advantage of these peak periods. It is a great time to develop a strategy with your Guild 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 John Newhouse from Roseberry Newhouse.
“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.
Don't wait until spring
It is not essential to wait until Spring to sell. Most sellers wait until spring and then there is more supply and more competition, whereas over the Christmas season, there is less supply but still high demand. By selling your home over the festive period, you may be more likely to achieve a better selling price than you would trying to sell against the flurry of stock in the spring market.
Tip: A 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 Cooke & Co. “We are 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.”
Tim Goodwin from Williams & Goodwin 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 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.”
Are you thinking of buying or selling during the Christmas period? Get in touch with your local Guild Member today.