Search for a home in winter when properties are laid bare

Tim Waring, director, Dacre Son and Hartley, Harrogate

It helps to look for a house in winter, says Tim Waring

Well, two weeks tomorrow it’s Christmas Day and no doubt many of you will be preparing for the forthcoming festive celebrations. Traditionally, it’s a quiet period for the housing market, so maybe it’s an opportunity to reflect on the year ending and to contemplate the twelve months ahead.

Residential property is integral to everybody’s life, be that as a buyer or a seller, landlord or tenant. So, there are a few questions I would like to propose to those of you who are considering moving over the next two to three months, given many agents are a lot busier than you might think.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

*For buyers, I have long advocated that it’s eminently sensible to buy in the depths of winter. You’ll be viewing property at its most stark. With no leaves on the trees, you can genuinely decide how overlooked you might be by your future neighbours. The physical condition of a property will be laid bare in terms of any dampness, leaking pipes, draughtiness or the effectiveness of heating. Perhaps most importantly you will also get a true feel for the property, which is perhaps hard to judge if you were contemplating a purchase on a balmy summer’s evening.

*If you are selling at the moment, you will find over the winter the quantity of viewings is reduced although, by contrast, the quality of the viewers you do tend to be significantly better. At this time of the year buyers are usually very focused with a genuine intent to purchase, whereas some of those viewing on the aforementioned summer’s evening often have more casual intentions.

So, if you are a winter seller do show you are serious and avoid giving negative vibes to buyers who do want to make decisions. Saying “we are not in a hurry to move” thinking it might strengthen your negotiating position is perhaps not that helpful.

Simple tips such as leaf clearance, basic gardening work, washing down paint work, cleaning and tidying interiors, putting the heating on at a sensible not stifling level and lighting an open fire if you have one, are a few suggestions that might seem very obvious but which few seem to adhere to.

*What about those who are still contemplating whether to move or not in 2017? You may think I say this through self-interest, but I do perceive the coming year could be a very good time to move notwithstanding the air of uncertainty being promoted in certain quarters of the media.

There are no immediate suggestions that interest rates will dramatically change. There do seem to be an increasing number of willing buyers who are frustrated by the general lack of property being offered for sale, and therefore if you are contemplating moving, the first half of 2017 could well prove to be fruitful.

*While some in the North may say “if in doubt do now’t”, realistically, if you do want to move, perhaps one option might be to invite an estate agent to come and see you over the next couple of months. Find out what your house might be worth. You may then reach them conclusion that it’s worth testing the market early in the new year to find out if a suitably attractive figure could be obtained that would be enough to tempt you to sell.

I’m already aware of a number of people who have followed this advice to their advantage. They now expect to move by the Spring and are looking forward to enjoying balmy summer evenings happily ensconced in their new homes. So if I can help you as well, do let me know.

*Tim Waring FRICS, is a Director of Dacre Son and Hartley estate agents. He is based at their Harrogate office.