IT IS usually the day that shoppers in search of a discount turn to the internet to secure discounted goods in the post-Christmas sales.
But now Boxing Day bargain hunters are not simply looking for clothes, furniture or electrical gadgets – they are searching for new homes.
Estate agents have revealed that more people start to search for a new home the day after Christmas than any other day of the year – prompting sellers to dramatically drop their prices over the festive period.
Some sellers have reduced the price they are looking for by as much as 60 per cent in early December as they aim to draw attention to estate agency websites.
Agents have dropped prices on a wide range of homes, particularly those in the countryside where the market has not returned to growth in the same way as it has in the hotspots of Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Sharon Zaremski, agent for country properties at Strutt & Parker, said: “Changing the price during this time means that the property is being seen by a much larger and often new audience as we know that many people make life-changing decisions during this period and obviously have much more time at home to sit and look through the various property websites.
“The property market outside the known hotspots, such as Edinburgh and Aberdeen, is still challenging and very price sensitive and a price change in the run-up to the festive period gives owners the best chance to be ahead of the competition and to secure early viewings.”
It is believed that free time during the holiday period, when householders are able to get together with their families to discuss future plans, combined with a feeling that their current home may be too small when occupied by the entire family over Christmas – sparks a flurry of interest in moving home.
The price of one property, a five-bedroom “eco home” in West Lothian – which comes with its own trout farm and cafe business – has been cut from £1.25 million to £485,000 in recent weeks, while a four-bedroom cottage in Kelso, in the Scottish Borders, with four reception rooms and a garage, has been reduced from £405,000 to £325,000.
Another detached home, complete with a swimming pool and “leisure wing”, in Crail, near St Andrews in Fife, was originally on the market for £425,000 and is about to drop its price to £375,000.
Winter is traditionally regarded as a slow season for selling property but some agents have reported that November was their busiest month this year.
Robert Carroll, managing director of Mov8 Real Estate in Edinburgh, said the advent of internet property sales meant house hunters were able to browse properties for sale during the holidays when estate agents are traditionally closed.
He added: “Boxing Day is the most extreme example of why winter is a great time if you are a property seller.
“It’s holiday season, which means that people have more time to think whilst couples and families are able to spend time together and to make big decisions.
“It’s also the time of year when everyone comes visiting and the house is bursting at the seams, which could be the trigger that makes you think you need more space.”
Carroll said that prices were being maintained in Edinburgh, where demand for property is outstripping supply. Recent data has revealed that the property market in Scotland has begun to recover in recent months – although sales volumes have generally been more buoyant in cities than in rural areas, according to umbrella group the Scottish Solicitors Property Centre.
Carroll said: “With a shortage of properties coming to the market at this time of year because of the general perception amongst sellers that winter is a bad time to put their properties on the market, we are seeing buyer demand outstripping supply. This is leading to closing dates and properties that have been sitting on the market for a while now selling”
Peter Lyell, of estate agency Savills, said the winter so far has been “remarkably busy”.
He said: “I think there are a lot of people sitting in rented accommodation – often because they have previously sold a house and are waiting for something they like to come on to the market – who start to think around Christmas that it would be nicer to have a home so they make a push to try to buy something.”