Tis the season to put your home on the market

A home can look its best at Christmas. Decorations by Amara.com
A home can look its best at Christmas. Decorations by Amara.com

This may be the best time to put your property on the market as 2017 heralds uncertainty.

Christmas is not generally regarded as the best time to put your property on the market but experts believe that December is a prime time to capture motivated buyers and those who dream of moving house in the new year.

Edward Stoyle, of Carter Jonas York, says: “The question I am regularly asked is, ‘when would be the best time to sell my property?’ The simple answer is ‘when nobody else is’.

“There will always be competition but the odds certainly improve as Christmas approaches. Motivated buyers don’t stop looking, regardless of the time of year.”

While spring is seen as the prime time to put your property up for sale, Edward adds: “Launching a property in the spring can be a mistake, given that the majority of owners tend to be doing the same. This can flood the market with competition and invariably reduce your chances of selling. Of course, more buyers register at that time of year but the more choice they have the more particular they become.”

Another persuasive factor in favour of putting up for the “For Sale” sign now is that property portals’ web traffic peaks in the period between Christmas and new year. It’s the post-feasting lull when people have time to contemplate a move and start viewing homes online. Last year Rightmove enjoyed a record number of hits for both sales and lettings.

Andrew Beadnall, founder of Beadnall Copley Estate and Letting Agents in Harrogate, Wetherby and Ripon, has more experience than most of selling in December, having clocked up 44 Christmases in the business. He believes that this festive season could prove critical thanks to the vote to Brexit.

“Out of all the innumerable Christmases, this December/early January will be the most crucial. Once Article 50 is invoked there will unquestionably be a period of uncertainty. If you are selling in 2017 my strong advice is to launch your property now as you will then have a good few months of marketing under your belt before the challenges of Brexit unfold.”

He also points out that your home may look better when it’s dressed in its “party clothes”. “Showing your home at Christmas can be a huge plus. It can come look alive and look amazing at this time of year. Place a lavish wreath on the front door and have a fabulous bauble-bedecked tree together with seasonal scented candles. Why not get some fresh coffee and mince pies on the go and, depending on the time of day, some mulled wine? You can transform your property into a perfect Yuletide family home enabling buyers to imagine hosting their own Christmas’s for years to come.”

Andrew adds that viewers in December are always the most committed with good reasons for wanting to by quickly. They may have to move for work or their rented property may be coming to the end of its lease.

One of the main reasons people cite for not putting their property on the market at Christmas is that their garden doesn’t look its best.

“People are obsessed by their gardens but prospective buyers can see past them. They know what a garden looks like in summer and they don’t care whether the wisteria and daffodils are out. What I often advise people to do is to put some pictures out of the garden in full bloom so people can see how lovely it looks,” says Edward Stoyle.

There are, however, some pitfalls for vendors during the festive season. Sarah Stabler of the Monks-Cross branch of York estate agency Redmove, warns sellers to think about lighting and heating.

Too many fairy lights outside can be a turn-off, according to Sarah, who adds that cold rooms are another faux pas. “Having the heating on is also extremely important as it makes a big difference if the property feels nice and warm,” she says.

Finally, friends and family can be an issue and this is where you will need some tact and diplomacy. Andrew Beadnall says: “If the house is full of family politely ask them to make themselves scarce when viewings are taking place so as not to overcrowd your home thereby making it feel smaller.”