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House-selling season begins: how to get the best price this autumn

Take advantage of the busiest months for selling

House-selling season begins: how to get the best price this autumn

With the property market set to awake from its summer slumber, we offer advice on selling your house in the busy autumn months.

You might have heard stories that we’re now in a buyers’ market, with estate agents struggling to get properties off their books and wary would-be buyers staying put amid economic uncertainty.

But while it’s true that parts of the market are more price-sensitive than before, sales are still moving – with more than 99,000 residential transactions going through in July.

Market experiences summer slowdown

Asking prices have dropped by 2.3% so far this month, with the biggest falls taking place in London and the South East of England, according to data from the property portal Rightmove.

This might sound significant, but once we remove the two worst-hit regions from the data, the drop is a more modest 1.5%.

Rightmove says this fall is primarily down to lowered buyer affordability, with house prices increasing by 32% since 2010 while wages grew more slowly.

And there have been signs that estate agents have reacted accordingly. Connells recently relaunched 5,000 properties with ‘meaningful price reductions’, with sales agreed on nearly a third.

Is now the time to sell your home?

This all might sound a bit worrying if you’re hoping to sell your house, but there’s no need to panic.

Transaction levels have remained fairly steady over summer, with data from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) recording a drop of just 0.8% drop between June and July.

Bear in mind that this data reflects a record-breaking summer of sunshine. As the temperature falls and people return from their summer holidays, the market tends to enjoy one of its busiest times.

Last year, September, October and November were three of the most popular months for sales, with more than 100,000 transactions recorded by HMRC each month.

How long does it take to sell a home?

Buyers tend to get eager when autumn begins, as they face a race against time to complete on new properties before the festive season.

Rightmove claims that properties generally take eight weeks to receive an offer, and then a further 13 weeks for the sale to go through once that offer is accepted.

To stand the best chance of getting the transaction through more quickly, both buyer and seller need to be fully prepared. For buyers, this could mean securing finance with a mortgage in principle, while sellers should ensure they have all the legally required documents in easy reach.

How to get the best price for your home this autumn

While this summer’s market slowdown shifted the balance of power towards buyers rather than sellers, there are ways you can maximise your chances of selling your property.

Be realistic

The small number of buyers in the market in some areas mean sellers need to price their homes competitively – especially at higher levels.

With this in mind, don’t get carried away over how much your home is worth, and make sure you get at least three independent valuations.

Don’t make excessive alterations

It makes sense to get your home in tip-top shape before you list it on the market, but keep it simple and don’t overspend.

Buyers want a clean, tidy and light space that they can consider as a blank canvas, so this isn’t the time for that gaudy feature wall.

If you’re confident about your home and want to demonstrate how great a condition it’s in, you could consider getting a survey of your property done to show buyers its quality.

Shop around for the right agent

Take recommendations on local agents and speak to at least three before choosing who will sell your property. Do your research and read reviews before jumping in.

It’s also worth weighing up the pros and cons of both traditional high street agents and online agents before making a decision.

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, be prepared to haggle on fees and tie-in periods.

Get your paperwork in order

Cut down on the chances of a hold-up by getting your finances and any relevant paperwork in order ahead of time.

For example, you can save time and money by checking if your property needs a new energy performance certificate (EPC) now.

In most cases you’ll be moving on to a new property, too, so make sure there are no financial issues at your side that could hold up the sale.

Now’s also a good time to speak to a whole-of-market mortgage broker to ensure you’re well set financially for your next step up the ladder.

Choose the right buyer

In the current market, buyers will be thinking about how they can knock the price down and get a better deal – so it’s extra important to check you can take your buyer seriously.

Find out where your buyer is in their chain and whether they’ve got a mortgage agreement lined up already. If you have more than one buyer competing, ask questions and make a judgement on who you think will stay the course.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

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