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Is buying or selling property over Christmas a good idea?

Posted by Jessica on Tuesday 8 December 2015

With the festive spirit all around, is it a good time to jump on the holiday mood and buy or sell a new home, or is everyone too busy entertaining? A lot of estate agents actively discourage homeowners from selling in December, but for some people this is the perfect time to move as they have availability for viewings and research.

There are mixed opinions about this and it generally boils down to your own circumstances, so it's worth considering all your options.

 

What are the pros and cons for sellers?

Pros

  • In general there are less houses on the market at this time of year and usually short supply = higher cost which is great for you sellers as buyers have less choice
  • Most buyers looking at this time are serious about securing a home so they will not only be willing to pay a bit more to secure it before the new year but they will also want the process to move quickly, double bonus!
  • Websites like Rightmove and Zoopla have made it a lot easier for people to look for their new home, so buyers can continue to search in front of their favourite Christmas movie
  • And when it comes to finding a time for a viewing, people are normally more free this month than during their normal work schedules, so can come at more sociable hours

Cons

  • Bear in mind that estate agents close over the Christmas period - so if you are leaving your home on the market between 21st December - 3rd January make sure your agent is available. Settled operates online so we won't disappear during the holiday period
  • And it’s not just estate agents who close - your solicitors and the council will be off too - so make sure all your paperwork is in place before the start of the holidays e.g. planning permissions
  • Obviously this affects buyers too - over Christmas people may take a well-deserved break from work and house hunting so be prepared for fewer buyers in your area or people searching online than usual
  • For those buyers still looking they could use this in their favour - and may try to negotiate a lower price
  • What some homeowners forget about at Christmas is the decorations - your home may be more cluttered than usual with a tree, cards and presents. So as not to distract the buyer we recommend sticking to decorations that complement your existing colour scheme - it will help them imagine themselves in your home. For more tips on home presentation see our guide to preparing your house for viewings
  • It can be a hectic time of year so when the pressure of selling your home is added it can be stressful - make sure you're prepared for this

 

What are the pros and cons for buyers?

Pros

  • The cold weather and party season may put people off house hunting so there will be less people booking viewings, meaning less competition and less likelihood of open houses, so you’ll have more time in the property on your own. Settled sellers do their own viewings and we find that our buyers prefer this as you get a better idea of what it’s actually like to live there
  • The seller may not have received much interest if their home is still available this late in the year which could give you a lot of flexibility in negotiating the price
  • Also those sellers who are continuing to market their property at this time are motivated to move home so they will want to make sure things run quickly and smoothly and will be prepared for the sale to go through straight away
  • If you're buying to let, its the perfect time to get everything ready for the busiest rental period of the year - January!

Cons

  • When fewer houses are on the market, those that are can be pricier if there is a lot of demand in that area. Fewer properties means less choice, which in turn stimulates fiercer competition between buyers who don’t want to miss the boat - so do your research on the area before visiting the property. If you have a distinct idea of what kind of home you want and where you want to live, you may find it more difficult at this time of year
  • One thing to note when buying at this time is that many of the companies you will use to conduct your property searches, surveys etc. may have closed up shop for Christmas. This is particularly important for your legal and financial matters - so make sure your solicitor is clued up beforehand and you have your mortgage in principle ready to go before the start of the season - otherwise your dream home may be snapped up by someone else who’s ready to go
  • Christmas will certainly give you a warm, fuzzy feeling about the home you're visiting but beware - sometimes the decorations can distract you from the details. Try and visualise the home when it isn't Christmas - if that means peeking behind the Christmas tree to get a view out of the garden then don’t be afraid to ask the seller

 

So whether you're buying or selling, what you choose to do will depend on how things have been going with your sale or home search so far. Sellers, remember you only need to find one buyer to sell your home and it’s likely the buyers will be more genuine at Christmas. Buyers if you don’t find that dream place by the end of the year, don't fret, there will be without doubt a surge of new listings in the new year. What better Christmas present is there than a new home?

 

 

Photo credit: Foodnetwork.com