Opinion: Is spring the time to sell your home?

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When is the best time to put your property on the market?

Estate agents I have been speaking to this week are suggesting, somewhat vehemently, that an optimum time would be when yet another referendum is not on the horizon, but as we haven’t had that situation for some years, and are unlikely to for at least two more, that isn’t a choice open to those who need to move house.

In normal political times, if we ever return to them, traditionally this time of year is when the market wakes up.

The worst of the winter weather is over, gardens are starting to look their best and lighter nights mean more time for viewing.

But figures from Warners Solicitors & Estate Agents show that buyers and sellers are now active throughout the year.

Warners’ analysis of selling patterns over recent months has shown evidence of a change to a year-round market, even during the typically quieter winter months, as opposed to the expected spikes in peak periods such as spring and early autumn after the school holidays.

Figures collated show that in the past, seasonality played a substantial role in levels of buyer activity.

Sales figures for 2007, for instance, show that 32 per cent of all homes that year were sold between March and May.

In 2016, exactly 25.3 per cent of total sales for the year completed across the same three month period, showing that the market is steering away from seasonal trends.

David Marshall, operations director at Warners, says: “A number of factors have led to the market becoming less seasonal and therefore impacted the increase of sales during the winter months. The fact that these days sellers can be easily contacted by phone and email, even when away on holiday, has certainly made people more willing to put their home on the market regardless of the time of year.

“Agents with a good local presence can still take care of everything for sellers while they’re away on holiday, including arranging viewings, providing feedback for potential buyers, chasing up leads and negotiating offers.”

The reasons sellers put their properties on the market have also differed over the years, further impacting on confounding seasonal trends.

Marshall says: “Following the downturn in 2008 people typically only chose to sell out of necessity, usually because of a change in their employment, family or financial concerns.

“Even as market conditions have improved, we have continued to see more of a year-round market which reached a peak in 2016.

“While more homes were sold during the spring months, there were also more homes coming on to the market in these periods.

“It is the balance between supply and demand that matters most in dictating trends, rather than the notion that a particular month is a good time to sell.”

So those panicking to finish odd jobs and refresh the paintwork on a property to ready it for market should perhaps relax.

While there may be fewer buyers around if you don’t get your act together before November, there will also be fewer sellers, so less competition.

Whether or not there will be a referendum looming, and its effects on the housing market, remains to be seen.