What Is The Best Month To Sell A House?
For most home sellers in the UK, timing is everything when it comes to getting the best price possible for their property. With the cyclical nature of the housing market, certain months tend to see more buyer demand and higher sold prices compared to other times of the year. When weighing up the optimal time to put your house on the market, there are various factors to take into consideration from seasonal trends to market conditions.
Spring and Early Summer Peak
Historically, the spring and early summer months have been seen as the peak season for house buying and selling in the UK. Lots of buyers come to the market around this time, having had the winter months to save up deposits, get mortgages agreed and prepare for their move.
The weather improves in spring, with more daylight hours and warmer temperatures, which lifts people’s spirits and enthusiasm for venturing out to view homes. The spring season coincides with the end of the financial year in April when many families look to complete their moves before the new school year starts in September. This creates a great deal of activity in the property market.
Easter holidays also fall in spring, and many sellers aim to get their properties on the market in time to catch families and couples who are off work and have time to view homes. With spring kicking off the main buying and selling season, more properties come onto the market, meaning buyers have a good selection of homes to choose from.
The prime spring months for selling are usually March, April and May. Prices reach their peak around May and early June in most years, as buyer demand is high but the supply of fresh property listings has yet to flood the market. Time your sale right during the spring boom, and you stand a good chance of achieving a quick sale at a competitive price. Just be aware that lots of other sellers have the same idea, so competition can be fierce.
After the busy spring rush, the property market tends to take a bit of a breather over July and August. The summer months see many buyers and sellers taking holidays, so activity typically slumps. With schools breaking up for the long summer break, families are often away or distracted by childcare commitments rather than house hunting.
Market activity starts to pick up again as families resume their home search in time to move before the new school year. But overall, summer is viewed as the low season for buying and selling homes in most of the UK. Properties that do sell over the summer usually achieve lower prices than at the spring peak, as buyer demand is more limited.
September tends to see an uptick in interest from home buyers following the summer lull. Parents are keen to get settled into new homes before the new school term starts. And buyers who missed out over the competitive spring period renew their search.
October and November are traditionally quite active months in the property market too. Summer holidays are over, buyers have returned from their breaks, and the festive season provides a motivator for families and couples to push ahead with move plans. This flurry of activity can lead to competitive bidding on suitable homes.
The half-term school break in late October provides another window for buyers to view houses. With decorating and home improvement projects often planned for autumn and winter, buyers want to settle into new homes before the festive period begins. Those selling before December can capitalise on buyers keen to be moved in time for Christmas.
Avoiding the Festive Slowdown
December is undoubtedly the quietest month for property sales each year. Heavy snowfall and cold temperatures can deter viewings and disrupt sales progress. And most people’s focus turns to Christmas and New Year celebrations rather than house moves. Many estate agents close for a week or more over the festive season too.
While occasional motivated buyers will push through winter deals, December is generally best avoided if you want a quick, smooth sale. Most buyers and sellers aim to have deals tied up by mid to late November latest if they want to be settled into new homes before Christmas arrives. Leaving your sale until December risks delays.
New Year, New Sale
Once the festive period is over, a surge of motivated buyers floods the market in January. Having had time to reflect over the holidays, many people commit to moving house in the New Year.
Buyer demand traditionally rises in January as people return to work and resume their property searches. It’s a time for new beginnings and fresh starts, which prompts renewed enthusiasm for moving home among buyers.
Stock levels are also lower in January, as some sellers wait for the spring market uplift before listing their homes. With eager buyers but limited choice, well-priced, nicely presented properties tend to get snapped up quickly. For sellers who get their timing right, January can be an active month to secure a sale.
Avoiding Unpredictable Weather
One key risk of selling during the winter months is Britain’s unpredictable weather. Snow, ice, storms and flooding can all deter buyers from attending viewings, especially in particularly rural or remote locations. If bad weather sets in for days or weeks in winter, it can hamper interest in your property.
Equally though, winter weather can also hamper the moving process for buyers who have sales agreed. If your buyer’s move is delayed by wintry conditions, it could impact their ability to proceed with your purchase. This risk is reduced if you time your sale for the spring or autumn markets.
Watching the Wider Economy and Property Market
General market conditions also require consideration when choosing the best month to sell. During times of strong house price growth and high buyer demand, properties sell quickly at record prices across most months. But in slower markets, seasonal trends become more pronounced and some months will favour sellers more than others.
Monitoring factors like mortgage affordability, interest rates, employment levels and consumer confidence will give you a feel for overall market conditions. This will determine whether you need to be more tactical in timing your sale versus simply riding the wave of a buoyant property market.
While the general trends point towards spring as the prime selling season in normal markets, keep an eye on the prevailing conditions and adjust your expectations accordingly. Be ready to act quickly if the perfect window of opportunity opens up.
Location, Location, Location
Although UK-wide seasonal patterns exist, local property market conditions also impact the best time to sell in your area. In rural locations and holiday hotspots, different factors shape the peak periods of demand.
For example, homes in Scotland’s ski resorts would aim for completion ahead of the winter season when tourist numbers swell. Coastal or rural towns may see upticks in summer due to ‘second home’ buyers. In major cities, the September student intake affects rental demand, while local festivals, events and academic terms influence ideal timing.
Understand the profiles of buyers most likely to be attracted to your area and property type. Track market patterns over recent years, looking at key dates like school holidays. Then align your sale schedule with the periods of strongest local demand.
Preparing Your Property For Sale
To achieve a quick, successful sale at the best possible price, you need to ensure your property is in tip-top condition before listing it on the market. This is the case regardless of the time of year you opt to sell. But it becomes even more important during peak seasons when competition is fiercest.
Critical steps when preparing your home for sale include:
- Decluttering and removing excess furniture to create a spacious, neutral look that appeals to buyers.
- Carrying out repairs and improvements – focusing on cosmetic decor and any outstanding maintenance issues.
- Deep cleaning the entire property, potentially employing professional cleaners.
- Ensuring bathrooms and kitchen are sparkling, as these rooms sell homes.
- De-personalising by removing family photos, bulky artwork or bold wall colours.
- Making gardens visually appealing – clearing leaves, mowing lawns, pruning plants.
- Repainting rooms in neutral tones and ensuring lights all work.
- Checking for damp issues and signs of mould/rot which put buyers off.
The idea is to showcase your property in the best possible light so buyers can instantly see its potential. A heritage building with unique period features would emphasise these architectural details. Whereas a contemporary new build would focus on a sleek, sophisticated look to accentuate modern styling.
Staging your home for sale also extends to how you present it physically for viewings. Ensure entrance halls are free of clutter, rooms are well-lit, soft furnishings are plumped up and lawns are neatly mowed. You want buyers to feel your home is ready to just move straight into.
Being Flexible on Viewings
During peak periods, you may have to be more flexible around viewer appointments to secure a sale. Avoid limiting viewings to weekends or set days each week. Potential buyers are likely to be juggling hectic lives themselves, so could miss out if you can’t accommodate appointments promptly.
In high season, houses often sell within days of listing, so buyers want access rapidly. Be as flexible as possible initially. If demand escalates, consider holding open house viewings so interested parties can flow through continuously without needing scheduled appointments. This streamlined approach helps secure a quick sale when the market is active.
Moving Fast to Exchange and Complete
Once you secure an offer during a prime selling month, it’s important to drive the transaction forward swiftly while buyer enthusiasm is high. Don’t lose momentum by delaying negotiations or the legal process.
Be as flexible as possible around the moving date. Buyers may be tied to specific deadlines linked to job changes, school terms or other life events. If their desired time frames don’t align fully with yours, compromise where feasible so you don’t lose the sale.
Also, have patience with the intricacies of your buyer’s onward purchase. Their ability to proceed might hinge on selling their own home or securing a mortgage in time. Offering some flexibility around completion dates helps build trust and goodwill so they remain committed to the sale.
Equally, as the seller you should aim to be well-progressed in securing your own next home before marketing your property. Knowing your moving plans are in place makes it easier to be flexible around completion dates with buyers. This helps transactions progress smoothly.
Choosing an Asking Price
An attractive asking price relative to local market value is key to achieving a quick sale, regardless of the time of year. However seasonal fluctuations do impact price strategy.
In high season, you may pitch slightly above perceived market value to capitalise on excess buyer demand and instigate bidding wars. Just ensure you don’t over-price too ambitiously. Buyers will still walk away if they feel you are chancing your arm. Subtle premiums of 5-10% can work when competition is high.
In slower months, you need to be more realistic on pricing right from the outset. Buyers will still expect summer or winter discounts, so don’t assume peak season premiums apply year-round. Sometimes accepting a slightly lower offer to secure a sale is wise before market activity diminishes further.
Work closely with your estate agent to set the right asking price for the current market conditions. Be led by their expert local knowledge on what pricing levels are achieving successful sales in your area and for your type of home.
Marketing Your Property
Your marketing strategy will also be adapted to reflect seasonal fluctuations in buyer demand. During peak periods, less extensive marketing may suffice, as ready buyers will be actively searching for properties themselves.
But in slower months, you may need to ramp up promotional activities to generate interest. For example:
- Enhanced online listings with professional photos and lots of detail on your home’s best features.
- Investment in paid social media adverts to get your listing in front of house hunters.
- Eye-catching ‘For Sale’ signage outside the property.
- Promotion across local media like newspapers and community groups.
- Instigating an email campaign to potential buyers registered with local agents.
- Offering finder’s fees to any introducers who recommend successful buyers.
- Hosting open house events so buyers can view without appointments.
- Refreshing and relisting the property if initial interest is poor.
Work closely with your agent to utilise their marketing channels and local expertise for maximum exposure during slower markets. Be prepared to invest more time, effort and budget into promotion than at seasonal peaks.
Managing the Offer Process
The offer process varies depending on market conditions. In high season, bidding wars with sealed bids are common. You’ll be able to pit buyers against each other to drive up prices.
But off-peak, you may need to negotiate more accessibly with individual buyers. In these cases:
- Express enthusiasm and willingness to negotiate when an offer comes in, even if it seems low at first glance.
- Avoid outright rejecting offers or issuing unrealistic counteroffers that could deter buyers.
- Be flexible on price and completion dates within reason.
- Consider incentives like including furnishings to seal a sale.
- Keep the buyer updated if new interest comes in to prompt their best offer.
- But don’t reveal details of other buyers or bids – maintain confidentiality and professionalism.
- Be honest about your position – if you need a quick sale due to your onward purchase this can help negotiations.
With careful handling, even initially weak offers can be nursed along into good deals when market activity is slow. Staying engaged with buyers, expressing positivity about their interest and offering flexibility is key.
Choosing the Right Estate Agent
Your chosen estate agent will play a pivotal role in delivering a successful sale within your preferred timeframe. So screen agents thoroughly before appointing your property listing.
Key factors to assess include:
- Their performance track record – review their recent sales prices achieved and days on the market.
- The calibre of their marketing suite – floorplans, photos, listings.
- Their visibility – are their listings dominating property portals?
- Levels of interest they attract – how many viewers at opens?
- Their responsiveness – do they follow up on buyer feedback quickly?
- Previous client testimonials – are previous sellers happy?
- Their availability for viewings – evenings/weekends?
- Their negotiation skills – do they drive hard deals?
- Their sales progression – smooth paths to completion?
Ideally, your agent will have a strong presence in your local area, backed by data on competitive properties they have recently sold. They’ll demonstrate extensive reach among active buyers. And they’ll have robust systems to capture interest and drive deals over the line.
It can be well worth paying that little bit extra in commission fees to secure the best agent for your property type and location. Their market expertise and contacts could make a difference in achieving the optimal sale price in your desired time window.
Alternatively, an agent with limited buyer reach or motivation may dampen interest and delay achieving a sale. So choose wisely to give yourself the best chance of success.
Whilst the spring market tends to see peak activity in the UK property market, the ideal month to sell ultimately depends on your individual property, location, and personal circumstances. Time your listing strategically around key dates like school terms and holidays to benefit from increased buyer demand. But also consider the practicalities of your onward purchase.
Monitor market conditions – strong growth may diminish seasonality, whereas slower markets make timing much more important. Be prepared to adapt pricing and marketing to find the right formula for your area as trends shift.
Invest time and money into preparing your property for sale and appointing the best agent for your needs. Then as key periods approach, ensure you are flexible and responsive with buyers to smoothly navigate the sales process.
With the right property preparation, pricing strategy, and agent in place, peak-season or off-season sales are certainly achievable. Just understand your local market, buyer dynamics, and property strengths to maximise your chances of success. In addition, when contemplating a property purchase, it’s crucial to be aware of potential fees when buying a house in the UK. Understanding and budgeting ensures a more transparent and well-managed home-buying process.