For just a brief week or so there it looked like our ‘Top Ten Tips for Selling in Autumn’ might have been redundant as soon as they were published, with ‘Selling in Winter’ being a more appropriate title for the article. Thankfully, order seems to have been restored and the trees are turning a lovely golden hue, leaves are falling gently to the ground and quite pleasant temperatures easing us gently into the shorter days and cooler temperatures of the winter months. Thankfully too, this month has seen some excellent news for property owners in the UK, with house prices seeming to be robust and indeed rising in many parts of the UK. As is my want, I will start with a round-up of the property news from the past month before letting you know what we are seeing happening in the property market in your area at the moment.
Property News Round-up from September
House prices have been reported to have risen to a record high in England in the past month. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), prices in England are now higher than they were at the previous peak in early 2008. Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24124904
The statistics are very much skewed by the house price rises being seen in London, where prices have risen by 9.7% annually. Regionally, however, the picture is a bit different. In Scotland, as a whole, prices have actually fallen 2.0% in the same period.
Halifax also reported annual price rises across the UK of over 5%, compared to the same period last year, backing-up the ONS statistics: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/sep/06/house-prices-rise-halifax
So what does this mean in practice for property buyers and sellers in Scotland?
For a start, property owners in Scotland should remember that property prices vary quite dramatically by area. Treating Scotland as a ‘region’ in its own right is liable to give quite a skewed view of how things are going in your own area.
The Funding for Lending scheme and also the new incentives for first time buyers in England and Wales are credited, or criticised, for being partly responsible for the rise in prices and activity south of the border. North of the border, however, the Help to Buy scheme has yet to be launched, although it is launching in the future, and this might help to explain the difference between the two markets.
What is clear though is that volumes of sales have been rising in Scotland. It appears that even though modest price falls may be being seen across the ‘region’, buyers are still keen to get on the market or to move up the property ladder. A healthy picture across the UK can only help to maintain confidence in the property market as a whole.
Interestingly, the price rises are actually bringing the property market under the scrutiny of the government and the Bank of England. This past month, there have been calls for house price inflation to be capped and for the Bank of England to use its powers to try to control the property market and prevent the sort of run-away property price inflation that we saw in the years running-up to 2007/08 and the price corrections that took place thereafter: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/13/house-price-cap-property-bubble
Of course, this is particularly difficult to achieve because the UK as a whole isn’t rising at the same rate, albeit the same interest rates and mortgage lending criteria apply to the whole of the UK. Foreign investment, in particular, will apply quite locally in areas like London and less so in the north east of England or in Kilmarnock. It will be interesting to see what happens, but the aim certainly seems to be a capping of run-away inflation rather than any attempt to prevent house prices from rising at all, so it shouldn’t negatively affect Scotland.
What Have We Been Seeing Happening in the Property Market in the Past Month?
If you have followed my Blog at all in the past few years, you will know that about five years ago I took the Property Rule Book and ripped it up because the market has been completely defying all common sense for a long, long time now. This month has been no different!
Normally you would expect to see a quiet August, with schools being off and people being away on their holidays, then you would expect it to be manically-busy through September and October. When I say ‘normally’, I mean prior to the perceived wisdom in the Property Rule Book being proved to be old-hat.
This year has proved once again that no sense of normality has returned to the seasonality of property listings and sales. After signing-up an absolutely unbelievable 112 people to go on the market in August (the relatively ‘quiet’ period…?!), September has been a wee bit quieter in terms of people signing-up to come onto the market.
So, what has that meant in terms of property sales (what we are ultimately paid to do)? Well, it’s been absolutely bonkers-busy (a technical term garnered from many-a-business book), with many of the large stock of properties built-up through August now selling throughout September. As a result, for the first time since last winter, we have actually sold more properties than we have brought to the market thus far in September.
Will this pattern of sales outstripping listings (new properties coming to the market) be sustained for the next couple of months? Well, probably. With winter around the corner (though hopefully keeping a respectful distance), a lot of people are already thinking about 2014 as a time to put their property on the market. However, the buyers who are looking for a property at the moment don’t suddenly stop looking. Indeed, to the contrary, many ramp-up their efforts at this time of year, hoping to be in their new place by Christmas. With an average time of about 6-8 weeks between having an offer accepted and getting their keys, this does mean that the ideal time to be buying is in October and November.
What that of course means is that October and November are actually really good times of year to be getting your property on the market. There is less competition, with many sellers being swayed by the conventional wisdom of waiting until the longer nights of Spring until they put their properties on the market. The percentage of our stock that we sell through winter is way higher than in spring and summer, simply because buyers have less to choose from.
With shorter days and longer nights, I would also suggest that many properties are actually more attractive in the autumn and winter, offering a warm and cozy haven away from the increasingly-cold and inhospitable outdoors. For tips on how to make your property as welcoming and attractive as possible in winter, you won’t be surprised to know that I’ve written a wee blog post about that too, with tips for making your property stand-out from the crowd if you do decide to pop it on the market before the end of the year: http://www.mov8realestate.com/blog/item/162-is-winter-a-good-time-to-sell-a-property?-its-a-great-time-and-here-are-ourtop-ten-tips-for-selling-in-winter.html