The ideal time to get your house in order for the big move

After New Year many people will be thinking about putting their property on the market.

The extended festive break puts people in the mood for house-hunting. Picture: John Devlin

Property website Rightmove tends to see a jump in people searching for properties after Christmas and into January – so if you’re considering taking the plunge, it’s worth making sure your home’s looking its best for potential buyers.

TV property expert Sarah Beeny, owner of estate agent Tepilo, says: “The end of the year and beginning of a new one are often times for contemplation, so it’s when many people decide they’d like to move and begin the big search, making it the perfect time to sell.

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“You’ll get a head start on anyone not ready to make the most of the increased activity and benefit from the increased number of people looking for a new home.”

Giving a property a lick of paint, tidying up interior fittings that look a little rough around the edges and clearing garden pathways of fallen leaves will help to make a good first impression for those intending to sell.

And despite the economic uncertainty, several housing market forecasts have pointed to UK house prices continuing to generally head upwards in 2017, albeit at a slower rate than in 2016.

Research from Barclays Mortgages has found that the average brick sitting in a UK house is worth more than £47 – based on the property’s overall value. In 2006, a 
single brick in a home would have been worth £35.70 on average – but the cost has increased as property values have surged.

Beeny also has useful tips for those who are eager to buy at this time of year. The first is to think twice.

“With the cost of each brick being so expensive, does it make sense for some people to improve rather than move, and if so, what are the best ways that people can add value to their home?” says Beeny.

“Improving, instead of moving, can be a really great option when house prices are high. Not only can improving your current home make it feel like a brand new place, it can also add significant value to the property.”

Perhaps the biggest priority for buyers is to avoid any nasty surprises when it comes to costs. “It’s really important you consider all the costs, from deposits and building surveys, through to moving costs and furniture, and also the ongoing maintenance costs associated with the upkeep of a property before you commit yourself to buying a property,” says Beeny.

“However, once you are ready, the best way to keep the costs down is to be flexible on what you are looking for. Looking outside of your dream location, for example, can save you a significant amount of money, as can buying a property that is perhaps a little less fashionable architecturally.”

And Beeny’s advice to first-time buyers: “Save as much as you can to put towards your future home – putting money aside each month can really add up in the long run, and it’s a great habit to get into that will help you for the rest of your life.

“It may also be worth talking to loved ones about how they could help, either through assistance with the deposit, allowing you to live at home for a while to save up, or they may even be able to support you through specialist mortgages.”

Beeny also suggests considering government-backed schemes aimed at helping first-time buyers.