When’s the best time to sell a house?

The best time to sell a house is something many homeowners are currently considering in the UK.

It’s been well documented that the last 12 months have been quite turbulent for the property market. The price correction seems to be slowing and activity in the market is increasing, so is now the time to sell?

In this guide

  1. The UK property market 2022
  2. What will happen with house prices over the next year?
  3. Should you sell your house when property prices are falling?
  4. Pros and cons of selling your house now
  5. What’s the best time of year to sell a house?
  6. Top tips to improve your chances of success if you want to buy now

The UK property market 2022 – 2024

2022

2022 was a year of two halves for the UK property market. The first half of the year saw continued exponential growth, thanks to cheap borrowing, strong demand and a shortage of available properties.

During the second half of the year, things began to change. Steeply rising inflation and an energy crisis were already beginning to impact household spending and affordability when the Truss/Kwarteng mini budget threw the financial markets into turmoil. Overnight, hundreds of mortgage products were withdrawn and eventually replaced by much more expensive alternatives. Would-be buyers suddenly had their mortgage lending affordability slashed, resulting in a fall in both property prices and volume of sales.

2023

2023 was a difficult year for the UK property market, both in terms of price and volume.

Buyer affordability continued to be stretched by higher mortgage interest rates, resulting in around 10% fewer property transactions than pre-pandemic levels. Whilst mortgage buyers held off, cash buyers took full advantage of the property price correction and bolstered market activity. During 2023 we saw a significantly higher number of cash purchases than usual pre-pandemic levels.

By the end of 2023, property prices were 4.5% lower than those seen in mid-2022, and 1.8% lower year-on-year.

2024

The property market has begun 2024 feeling cautiously optimistic. Inflation is coming down and there are predictions that interest rates will soon follow. So, is now the best time to sell a house?

There are several factors temping people back to the market, including:

  • Increased market activity and demand
  • Increase in available stock on market
  • More stable mortgage interest rates with suggestions that cuts to the Bank of England base rate are on the way
  • Higher asking prices

Factors working against the property market in 2024:

  • Uncertainty about when and how far interest rates will fall
  • Regional variation – Principality Building Society recently reported that property prices in Wales have dropped by 6.5% over the last year, whilst Nationwide suggests property prices in England have risen 1.6% over the same period
  • Uncertainty whether reports of higher property prices are simply due to bigger, more expensive properties now being listed where more affluent owners have previously held off risking the turbulent market. Some commentators are suggesting that, in reality, property prices are continuing to fall throughout the UK.
  • Buyer and sellers seem to have a different outlook on the market – sellers are ambitious with asking prices and sellers are determined to get a bargain and avoid overpaying

What will happen with house prices over the next year?

As the last couple of years have proven, property price predictions are a tricky game.

Most financial forecasters are suggesting a 1-2% fall in property prices throughout this year, but homeowners seem to be more optimistic, with many believing prices will rise.

There are several unknown economic factors that will play a big role in determining the best time to sell a house.

Inflation

Although inflation is coming down, it did not fall as much as expected in March.

Inflation plays a big role in buyer affordability. It will dictate when and how far interest rates might fall.

Bank of England base rate

If we see the Bank of England’s base rate begin to fall, we’re likely to see this flow through to mortgage interest rates. Lower mortgage interest rates will mean improved buyer affordability, increased market confidence and economic growth.

Mortgage interest rates

Whilst mortgage interest rates are more stable than they have been at other points in the past year, there is still some movement in both directions as lenders respond to external influences. In the last few weeks, we have seen several lenders raising their rates.

Unemployment rates

At the moment, unemployment rates remain fairly low. Were that to change, it would likely have a big impact on the property market.

Salary growth

Salary growth was reasonably high in 2023, as employees struggled to withstand uncomfortably high inflation. It’s unlikely businesses will be able to offer the same this year.

If salary growth stagnates, buyer affordability will continue to be stretched and prices growth is likely to be less achievable.

available and the number of people that want to buy a property. Without this imbalance, we would likely have seen a much more dramatic price crash at the end of 2022.

Should you sell your house when property prices are falling?

There are pros and cons to selling a house during a period of price correction.

It’s difficult to predict whether property prices will fall, stabilise or begin to recover over the next year, due to the number of external factors at play. Without a crystal ball, whether or not you should sell will depend on your individual circumstances.

If you have a strong need to move, eg. you need more space to fit a growing family, you’re relocating, or you’re struggling with the cost of living and want to move to a more affordable property, I don’t think there’s a strong reason not to move. You may sell at a lower price than you would have done last year, but you”re also likely to be able to buy at a lower price.

If you’re selling an inherited property or former buy-to-let, there are arguments both ways. Some will suggest you should sell in case prices drop further, whilst others could argue that you should try to hold on to the property until prices start to rise again. The problem with that advice is that it will very much depend on how long you can afford to hold on to the property for. It could be some time before we see any meaningful rise in property prices.

If you are selling a property because you have a strong need to do so, this isn’t a disastrous time to sell a property, it’s just not as buoyant as it has been. Property prices rose very quickly between 2020 and 2022, so although prices are now beginning to fall, they are largely still at above 2020 levels.

Pros and cons of selling your house now

There will be pros and cons to selling your house at any time. These are some things you might want to consider if you’re thinking about selling your property soon.

Pros:

  • Although the market is slower, demand is starting to return to the market. Should inflation or mortgage interest rates rise again, that demand may fall away.
  • More properties are starting to come onto the market – this means much more choice for your next property than you had last year.
  • Although interest rates are still high, most mortgage products have started to factor in predicted falls in the Bank of England base rate. This means mortgage products are much more favourable than they were last year.

Cons:

  • Mortgage rates have risen steeply since September 2022, impacting buyer affordability. You may be wary of committing to a new mortgage when it’s difficult to predict what will happen to interest rates over the next year.
  • With the cost of living so high, moving house is an expense that many people are currently choosing to avoid if they can.
  • Inflation has fallen significantly in recent months, but continued political and economic uncertain – both in the UK and on a global scale – mean inflation may be difficult to control over the next 12 months. Higher inflation means lower affordability.

What’s the best time of year to sell a house?

Traditionally, Spring is the best time to sell a house. Christmas is over and done, but the summer holidays are still a way off. Those who started talking about moving at the start of the year have spent time preparing their property and are now ready to list it, which means Spring is traditionally a time for strong demand and strong supply.

Another popular time of year to sell is the Autumn. The start of the new school year will get parents thinking about being in the right area for school catchment and those without children may use summer breaks to think about their goals and plans for the coming year.

Summer and Winter are traditionally not the best times of year to sell. This is because buyers are likely to be distracted with other plans.

Top tips to improve your chances of success if you want to buy now

Your approach to buying a new property will need to be a little different in an uncertain market. These top tips will help you to improve your chances of a successful purchase.

Make sure you’re proceedable and get ready to haggle

It’s a buyers’ market. This means, providing you’re proceedable, you should be able to haggle for a good price.

Being proceedable means you are either chain-free or have already found a buyer for your current property.

    Get your finances in order

    Recent figures suggest that almost 20% of failed sales collapsed due to buyers having difficulty securing a suitable mortgage.

    If you’re thinking about buying a property in the next few months, it’s important to get your finances in order. You should also speak to a mortgage lender to find out how much you might be able to borrow. It’s important to consider both how much you can borrow and what monthly repayments might be.

      Shop around for the best mortgage deal

      The average 2-year fixed mortgage interest rate currently sits at around 5.74%, but there are bargains to be had so make sure you shop around. A mortgage broker is a good way to do this without adding multiple searches to your credit file. A mortgage broker should be able to present you with the best deals available for your personal circumstances. They will also be able to advise which products you’re most likely to be accepted for.

      Know who else is in your property chain

          Unfortunately, around one-in-three property sales will fall through before completion, many of them due to chain collapse. To help maximise your chances of a successful move, it’s important to know how many people are in your property chain and how far along each transaction is.

          Struggling to sell your property and worried about holding up the chain? You could consider selling your existing home to a home buying company. A genuine cash home buying company will buy your property with their own cash funds on a date of your choice. Because they’re buying with their own cash, and not relying on mortgages or investors. This means they can buy your property in as little as a week. The sale is also guaranteed, so it will effectively make you a chain-free buyer and help to speed up your move.

          Get the right team behind you

          Choosing the right conveyancing solicitor can make a big difference to the success of your move. Slow sale progression is a major bugbear for anyone trying to move house. Ensure you select a solicitor who is responsive and motivated. Remember, if they’re not great at getting back to you, it’s unlikely they’ll be great at getting back to your seller’s solicitor.

          Keep talking

            Communication is key when buying or selling a property. Little misunderstandings or a lack of contact can lead to tension that can jeopardise a sale. This means it’s important to keep talking at every step. Make sure you keep the estate agent updated on how any mortgage application is progressing and any other updates from your solicitor, so they can update the seller.

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            Author:

            Beth Lane

            Beth Lane

            As an integral part of the marketing team, Beth is responsible for creating Quick Move Now’s external communications and dealing with national and regional press enquiries.

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