Timing Your Home Sale: Is Now The Right Moment In The UK Property Market?

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Deciding when to sell your home is an important decision that requires careful consideration of the current state of the UK property market. With housing prices and demand fluctuating from year to year, timing the sale of your home can make a big difference in how much you ultimately receive. Here, we’ll examine several factors that impact the UK housing market and discuss whether now is the optimal time to list your home for sale.

Examining Recent Trends in UK House Prices

Over the past decade, the UK property market has experienced some significant ups and downs. Following the 2008 financial crisis, house prices dipped substantially before rebounding. More recently, the market slowed between 2018 and 2020 due to Brexit uncertainty. However, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, average prices have risen sharply once again.

According to the Office for National Statistics, average house prices increased by 10.8% in the year leading up to April 2022. This represents the strongest annual growth rate since 2007. The average UK house price now stands at a record high of £281,000.

With demand continuing to outstrip supply, all regions and nations of the UK have seen house price inflation. However, the South West, West Midlands, East Midlands and Wales have recorded the highest rates of annual price growth at 12-14%. For sellers, these conditions suggest that now could be an opportune moment to achieve a good sale price.

Factoring in Interest Rates and Mortgage Lending

An additional variable with a major influence on the housing market is the cost and availability of mortgages. As the Bank of England raises interest rates to kerb high inflation, mortgage rates are also increasing.

In December 2021, the average 2-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.38%. By August 2022, this had risen to 4.74%. For buyers, higher interest rates impact affordability and purchasing power.

However, it’s worth noting that while rates have increased, they remain below the historic norm. Between 2008 and 2019, average 2-year fixed rates typically ranged between 4-6%. By comparison, the current pricing environment is still reasonably competitive.

Mortgage lenders have also been stress-testing borrowers at much higher rates when approving loans. This helps ensure buyers have enough headroom to withstand further rate rises. Therefore, provided buyers have sizable deposits and meet affordability criteria, they should still be able to access mortgages.

For sellers, as long as buyers have financing options, demand is likely to remain healthy. Listing shortly while buyers are still active could be an astute move.

Evaluating the Supply of Homes Coming to Market

In addition to monitoring buyer demand, evaluating the current availability of homes for sale provides critical insights into market conditions.

According to Rightmove, the total number of homes newly listed is down 16% compared to 2021. Fewer homeowners are putting their properties on the market.

At the same time, buyer demand continues to rise. There were more sales agreed in the first half of 2022 than in any previous six-month period since 2007.

This imbalance between low supply and ongoing strong demand is contributing to higher prices. For sellers who have the flexibility to list now, bringing a property to market when buyer competition is high can yield excellent results.

The Role of Seasonality in the UK Housing Market

Over the years, housing market activity tends to follow seasonal patterns. More properties typically launch during the busier spring and summer months.

According to Zoopla, the highest number of listings in 2022 emerged in March, with over 147,600 new properties added. Listings start declining in November and hit yearly lows in January.

For buyers, more choice emerges during the peak seasons. This allows sellers to maximise visibility by marketing during the busier spring and summer months.

However, sellers who need to complete sales sooner may still generate interest by listing over the autumn and winter. With fewer competing properties, you may capture serious buyers immediately seeking to beat the competition.

Factoring in Your Circumstances and Motivations

Beyond market conditions, your timeline, motivations and plans should factor heavily into choosing your ideal listing timeframe.

For example, if you need to sell quickly due to an imminent job relocation or change in family circumstances, listing as soon as possible might take priority over chasing maximum value.

Conversely, if you have flexibility on the timeframe, monitoring the market over the next several months to list during an optimal season could suit your needs.

Think carefully about your must-have moving date, your ability to accommodate showings and open houses, and your post-sale housing plans when deciding on timing. Your unique situation should guide your strategy.

Preparing Your Home for Maximum Saleability

To achieve the best price, decluttering and staging your property before listing day is a worthwhile investment.

Buyers develop immediate impressions during viewings. A tidy, well-presented home with neutral décor helps buyers visualise their future lifestyle.

Declutter each room and create a spacious, minimalist feel. Store excess furniture and personal items off-site or in boxes. Clean thoroughly and make minor repairs.

Professionally fit key rooms like bathrooms and kitchens if they seem dated. Fresh paint and new flooring go a long way. Enhance kerb appeal with potted plants and flowers.

Appealing to buyers’ emotions spikes interest. By showcasing your home’s strengths, you can expect more appealing offers.

Pricing Your Property Right from the Start

Setting the listing price for your home is an art and a science. If you overprice, you risk deterring buyers and experiencing a stale listing. Underpricing can cost you money.

Research prices of comparable sold properties in your area to identify the current market value. Compare homes with similar specifications and settings.

Factor in any extensive renovations or additions you’ve made that enhance value. But avoid tacking on extra for minor upgrades or personal customisations.

Discuss pricing with your estate agent. Ask them to prepare comparables and make an informed recommendation on the list price range.

Be prepared to price competitively – slightly below market value – to generate quick interest. You can then leverage buyer competition during negotiations.

Choosing the Best Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

Selecting the right estate agent to market your property is essential. Ask friends for recommendations and research online reviews.

Shortlist several agents and interview them before deciding. Ask about their proposed marketing strategy, experience selling similar properties and typical fee structures.

Local independent agents may provide a more personalised service. Larger chains may offer wider networks of buyers. Weigh the options carefully.

Once you’ve chosen an agent, work collaboratively to create an enticing listing with professional photography. Market across both online and traditional platforms for maximum exposure.

Minimising Disruption During the Sales Process

Finally, prepare yourself for some inevitable disruptions when selling your home. Avoid scheduling major renovations or landscaping projects right before listing. These could delay going to market.

During viewings, aim to keep your home in “show-ready” condition at all times. Keep mess to a minimum and vacate the property to limit disruptions.

Be accommodating of buyer requests for second visits or inspections. Know that last-minute showings may sometimes arise.

The sales process brings stress, but keeping your end goal in mind helps minimise frustrations. With good planning and patience, you’ll make it through smoothly.

Conclusion: Evaluate Timing Carefully Based on Your Unique Selling Position

In the UK property market, where house prices continue to rise and buyer demand remains high in many regions, the question on every seller’s mind is, “is it a good time to sell a house?” For those who have well-presented and properly priced properties, the current conditions offer a promising opportunity to secure a quick and profitable sale at a peak price point.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that there are potential economic headwinds on the horizon that could potentially slow down the housing market in the coming months. This uncertainty means that sellers need to carefully consider their personal motivations, timeframes, and risk tolerance when making the decision of whether to sell their property now or wait for a more opportune moment.

To make an informed choice, pay close attention to various factors, including mortgage rates, pricing trends in your local area, and advice from property sector professionals. By strategically timing your sale based on thorough research, you can maximise your chances of making the most out of the active UK housing market today.

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