There was a time when the property market could quite logically be split into seasons. But, such is the disruption to all our usual timetables and routines, that is no longer the case.
The seemingly never-ending chain of events that impacted the the market in recent years, from tax changes and SDLT holidays to Brexit and Covid, mean we now have an ongoing problem of demand and supply.
The lack of good quality stock and uncertainty of the past 18 months have brought about a shift in mindset from buyers who are no longer willing to wait for ‘seasonal marketing’. If they find the right property, they want to move quickly. There is concern that there may be more global/domestic upheaval in the coming months, so people will buy ‘out of season’ even if it means missing out on new stock coming to market. In fact, since 2019, November and December have proved to be among the most active months for sales.
Perhaps most importantly, as the year draws to an end, buyers are keen to know that they have closed, even if they don’t plan to move in until early the following year. They will have peace of mind and as a result can have a relaxing Christmas, something on everyone’s wish list this year.
Delaying the process until spring means your property is likely to compete with far higher stock levels and could run the risk of being ‘lost’ amongst the competition. In 2019, approximately 17 per cent of Arlington Residential sales were agreed in November/December. In 2020, that figure rose to approximately 22 per cent, almost certainly because of the lack of travel and the fact the domestic market had become increasingly active.
This was especially evident in North West London, with its strong supply of family houses with big gardens. In the past two weeks, we have agreed the sale of five properties in St John’s Wood and Hampstead with a combined value of almost £50m, and have a further five instructions in advanced negotiations, the trend for high level of sales in the final months of the year, looks set to continue.
Another factor that influences vendors to hold off listing at this time of year is a concern that their property won’t actually go live for several weeks. In years gone by that was indeed the case but with the advances in IT and easy access to sophisticated marketing platforms, it is now possible to agree terms and pricing on Monday morning and have the property live on all portals within 24 hours, including a high quality brochure, floor plan and photographs. This can all be in the inbox of hundreds of buyers within 48 hours.
Buyers and vendors should act now – they could sell before the break and avoid a swamped spring market.
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