When it comes to selling your house, timing is very important. The month, season, and market conditions when you list your property on the market can all have an impact on the offers you receive.
For some people, the best time to sell a property is dictated by their personal life. If you are moving in with a partner, separating after a divorce, or trying to get everything in place for a forthcoming academic year, there may be certain deadlines that you need to stick to.
But if you have the freedom to choose when you want the move, the winter could be more attractive.
It is often reported that the housing market slows down during December. As people across the country prepare for the Christmas period, and all the hectic scheduling that often comes with it – from visiting family members, to organising parties, and much more – selling a property is often the last thing someone wants to do.
However, this relative inactivity means that there are advantages to listing your property during this month, too. So, if you are wondering: ‘should I sell my property in December or January?’ then you are in the perfect place.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about this subject.
What is the ‘January Rush’?
One of the most common times to list a house for sale, or to search for a new place (as a buyer) is during January – also known as the ‘January rush’. The popular house-selling platform, Rightmove, regularly reports a huge spike in traffic during January, and estate agents are usually inundated with requests in the new year.
Often, people decide to list their house during January because the stressful period of Christmas is over, and they have more free time to focus on offloading their property. Likewise, buyers are sometimes more active in the new year, as purchasing a new house is one of their new years’ resolutions.
Another reason that January is a popular time to sell a house is because, with the average property sale taking around 6 months, the deal should be completed by summer. Usually, people don’t want to jet off on their summer holidays with an unfinished house sale hanging over their heads – and to achieve this, listing the property during January can be a smart move.
What is the ‘Boxing Day Boom’?
Similar to the ‘January Rush’ is the ‘Boxing Day Boom’. In a recent year, Rightmove experienced 54% more visits to their site on Boxing Day, compared to usual numbers.
Why December could be the perfect time to sell your house
Although the housing market is usually quieter during December, this could offer some advantages to you. When there are less properties available on the market, it usually means that you receive higher offers, because potential buyers don’t have the luxury of pickiness.
Plenty of buyers are determined to complete a house sale before the Christmas period and/or Spring, which means that some of the interested parties during this month will be highly motivated to get the deal done quickly. This often results in higher offers and faster responses.
While Christmas can be a busy time for many families, for others it can potentially open up their schedule. For much of the UK workforce, it provides a rare two weeks away from work, which can make it far easier to arrange viewings and communicate consistently throughout the daytime.
Furthermore, starting the selling process in December makes it even more likely that your deal will be completed before the summer holidays. In this sense, it truly is a ‘win-win’.
Even if your house sale does not complete before the end of the year (which, when using a high street agent, is extremely likely) it is still very helpful to prepare for your house sale sooner than everyone else. By listing your property in December, you can spend more time receiving feedback from viewings – including whether your house is fairly priced, what features are turning potential buyers away, and more. This can give you greater insight, to ensure you are fully prepared for the ‘January rush’ when it comes around. You can also spend the month gathering the documentation you need to complete the sale.
Drawbacks of selling your house in December
While there are lots of advantages to offloading your property in December, there are a few drawbacks that you should keep in mind, too.
Firstly, your attempts to find a suitable buyer during December are not guaranteed to succeed, since there are typically less people searching for a house during this time. You may even be asked to drop your asking price to allow for this, which may not be something you are willing to do.
Hosting viewings during December may also add to your already-busy schedule. If you are having parties, inviting family members over, or slowly putting up Christmas decorations, then selling your house may introduce an added unwanted headache.
All of these drawbacks can be managed – you just need to clearly set your expectations going in.
Disadvantages of selling your house during the January Rush
While January often sees lots of potential buyers entering the market, it also results in plenty of property owners listing their house online. This means that competition in your area will be higher, and you could be in a far weaker negotiating position as a result.
When buyers have lots of options to choose from, they don’t need to work so hard to complete a sale. Deals will often be completed below the asking price, because homeowners are so desperate to complete a sale – and this is a scenario that may have been avoided in other months of the year, including December.
Estate agents often return to work in the new year with a huge pile of ‘to do’ items. With so many new enquiries coming in, these companies may have far less time for each individual customer, meaning that response times slow down and attention to detail decreases. By contrast, if you can work with the estate agent during a quieter period (such as December) you are far more likely to receive a high quality service.
Is it possible to complete a house sale in less than one month?
While a typical high street estate agent is highly unlikely to complete the sale of your property within one month, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. Other methods of completing a house sale within an extremely short time period are available to you, and using a cash house buyer is perhaps the most reliable and efficient way of doing this. We Buy Any Home can help if you want to sell your house fast.
What could you do to prepare your house sale in December?
By listing your house on the market in December, it enables you to complete several tasks that might otherwise take much longer during the January rush, when estate agents are inundated with requests.
Taking photos of the house, listing it on online property platforms, and printing out professional brochures are all things that December can be used for. Tidying your house and making it ‘homely’ is a worthwhile way to spend your final month of the year, too.