Selling your house may feel like an overwhelming prospect amid a sea of economic chaos caused by coronavirus pandemic. But you may be better off acting sooner rather than later to bag a quick sale.
Pent-up demand for moves after lockdowns and restrictions and a stamp duty holiday on some homes have fueled the property market over recent months.
In this article Which? looks at the latest property data and provides tips on how to sell your home quickly in 2021.
Should you sell your house next year?
If you’re sure about selling your home you’re best off acting sooner rather than later if you want to sell quickly.
Around 130,000 sales were agreed over the past month, up by 44% on the same period in 2019, according to Rightmove’s House Prices Index for December. It notes there are 650,000 sales agreed and in the pipeline, around the same as November data.
This has largely been fuelled by the governments temporary stamp duty holiday. The breadth of the cuts vary from country-to-country, but they mean buyers could potentially save up to £15,000 in tax if they move home before April 2021.
But that momentum may not last.
Nick Leeming, Chairman of property firm Jackson-Stops, says: ‘The start of the new year is traditionally a busy time in the housing market, with buyers and vendors alike taking the festive period to plan for the year ahead.
‘However, we are expecting the first months of 2021 to be particularly active as buyers try to squeeze in their deals before 31 March. Those looking to make savings on the stamp duty holiday must act now, we are advising any serious house hunters to have their offers in by January latest.’
- Find out more: how to sell your house quickly
What’s happening to house prices?
We’re beginning to get a clearer picture of the impact coronavirus has had on house prices, but with the ongoing stamp duty holiday and the prospect of continuing lockdown measures, figures could fluctuate significantly into the new year.
The most reliable barometer of house prices is the Land Registry’s UK House Price Index, which is based on sold properties. It works on a two-month lag, so the latest available figures are for September.
The Land Registry says the price of a property in the UK increased by 1.7% month-on-month and 4.7% year-on-year in September, to reach £244,513.
Rightmove’s index is more up-to-date, but it’s based on asking prices rather than sold prices. In December’s report, it found average asking prices had dropped by 0.6% month-on-month but risen by 6.6% year-on-year.
What will happen to house prices in 2021?
Rightmove forecasts a 4% national average price growth in 2021.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data says: ‘2021 has a lot of variables, and so is not an easy one to call, but we are confident that the housing market will continue to outperform general expectations next year as it did this.’
He adds: ‘There’s likely to be a lull in quarter two [April to June] unless the stamp duty holiday is extended, but for many buyers its removal will not be make or break, though may lead them to reduce their offers to a degree to compensate for the higher tax, and indeed many sellers may be prepared to help to mitigate their buyer’s financial loss.’
- Find out more: how stamp duty works
Did you fail to sell in 2020?
Selling your home can be a long, drawn-out process. However, the average time to sell of 52 days is much quicker than it was this time last year.
The chart below shows how many days it took for houses to be sold each month over a year to November 2020.
Don’t panic if it takes slightly longer than the October and November averages – these numbers will largely be down to the stamp duty holiday.
Though typically, if it’s taking you a lot longer than the averages above, you could be doing something wrong.
Your asking price could be too high, which is why it’s extremely important to do a valuation on your property before putting it on the market.
Talk to your estate agent about how they’re marketing the property and whether it has any specific characteristics that will make it difficult to sell.
You can find out more in our guide looking at typical selling problems and solutions.
Will Brexit make it more difficult to sell?
Brexit has generated a large amount of uncertainty that could affect industries, markets and people in different ways.
How it will impact the property market in the long-term is difficult to predict.
While the stamp duty holiday is still active, it may continue to be easier to sell but the long-term effects of Brexit aren’t likely to be seen for quite some time.
Generally, the advice from experts has been to not rush into a decision, and sell when it’s right for you.
- Find out more: what will Brexit mean for house prices?
Tips for selling your home in 2021
There are some simple steps you can take to help sell your home quickly, no matter what the economic outlook may be.
We’ve listed some tips below that may help you with the selling process.
1. Make your property look its best
Make sure your home is clean, tidy and free from clutter. This should give potential buyers a blank canvas to imagine how they would use the space.
This applies to the outside of your house too. Make sure the front lawn and garden are tidy and presentable.
If your home is a bit run down you could consider some home improvements – but you should get an estate agent’s opinion on this to see if it’s worth the cost.
2. Be strategic on your asking price
You should do some research on how much your house is worth based on recent market activity in your area, and then invite local estate agents to value your property.
Some estate agents have been found to overvalue properties to win business, so we recommend speaking to a few local agents.
Try not to be tempted to choose the firm claiming they can get you thousands more if it seems unrealistic – this can put buyers off from even coming to view the house in the first place.
3. Get your documents in order
If you get your paperwork sorted out early, it will help things move along more quickly.
4. Reassess if your home isn’t selling
If your property has been on the market for a while and you haven’t received any offers, talk to your estate agent and get their take on what could be going wrong.
You may need to lower your price, or use better photos for the online listings or main image.
If you suspect the issue is your estate agent, most contracts include a set notice period, act fast if you want to switch agents so your property isn’t left languishing on the market for several extra weeks before another firm can relist it.