Best and worst time to sell your house

As a seller, you’ll be eager to get your house sale underway as soon as possible. But before you commit to listing your property on the market, it’s always advisable to consider the things that might affect the motivation of potential buyers at certain times of the year.

Springtime is, and always has been, considered the prime moment to find a prospective buyer for your home. But it isn’t the only window of opportunity—far from it, in fact. The best time to sell a house in the UK can vary depending on the property type, buyers’ age group and various other factors.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the following topics to highlight all the selling hotspots in the calendar.

  • When do homes sell quickly?
  • When is the best time to put your home on the market?
  • The role of supply and demand
  • Different types of property sell best at different times
  • Why you should avoid the peak season

When do homes sell quickly?

As you know, spring is often touted as the best time of year to sell a house in the UK. And the most favoured month is certainly March. But with the majority of March itself falling officially within British wintertime, it seems that there’s more to the equation than just the month of the year.

Houses sell quicker when everybody is keen to get on and complete the house buying process. But as we’ll see in a moment, it’s not always a great idea to enter the fray at the busiest times. Plenty of choice for buyers means more competition for sellers. 

The motivation for potential buyers is varied. And the seasonal changes are only one factor that determines the best and worst time to sell a house. The following elements will also affect when a buyer decides to take the plunge.

  • Changes to stamp duties
  • Changes to interest rates
  • Currency inflations
  • Political factors (Brexit, elections)
  • Construction in the area
  • Tourism in areas of London

When is the best time to put your home on the market?

Having a general idea of how long your property may remain on the market before going under offer is key in this situation. The longer it stays on the market, the worse things can get for the value of your house. 

Buyers may see a property that’s struggling to shift as a prime opportunity to negotiate and hammer down the price.

So in terms of timescales from entering the market to receiving an offer, when is the best time to sell a house? That would be March with an average of 57 days.

January, February and April all come very close with average times of 62 days, 60 days and 58 days respectively. So there’s nothing wrong with putting up the ‘For Sale’ sign a little earlier than March, nor waiting until early summer either.

But if you are thinking about delaying by a few weeks, be aware that things do slow down considerably throughout late summer up until November. 

The worst time to sell a house

Mid-November sees an average of 79 days to sell. And this is clearly considered the worst month to sell a house in the UK, bar none.

The main issue with late autumn is that buyers are always keen to be in their new house by Christmas. And with most conveyancing times extending between 8 and 12 weeks, there’s little hope of achieving this by making an offer later on in the year.

The role of supply and demand

Supply and demand have a big impact on the housing market. When there are fewer properties on the market, but plenty of buyers searching for their next homes, it creates an ideal opportunity for the sellers. 

Prices are inflated as buyers are competing with each other for what little there is available. Conversely, when the market is flooded with properties, buyers can enjoy some hefty discounts.

As a seller, you will achieve much better sale prices when there is a low supply of houses in your area with plenty of prospective buyers on the lookout.

You can check out the NAEA monthly housing report to get a feel for how supply levels are looking at any given moment. And it’s also a good idea to put yourself in the shoes of the buyers and search the local property portals. You’ll soon see how much competition you have in your area.

Demand levels will continue to ebb and flow throughout the year in a fairly predictable pattern. Unless, that is, exceptional circumstances add their weight to the equation. Stamp duty holidays and pent-up demand after a pandemic were perfect examples of this.

When considering the potential demand, it’s necessary to take into account the type of property you’re trying to sell. 

Different types of property sell best at different times

Maximising your potential gains and shortening the selling time is important to most sellers. And to achieve this, it’s necessary to consider the best time of year to sell a house in the UK depending on the property type.

1 & 2 bed flats & terrace houses

The best time to sell a house of this type is January, February and September with your target audience being first-time buyers & young couples.

3 & 4-bed family houses

Avoid any school holidays as your target buyers are generally families with children looking to upsize. Between Christmas and the February half-term break and from Easter through to early summer are prime times for this market.

Bungalow & retirement flats/houses

Couples and singles approaching the autumn years are keen to downsize and they prefer to do so during the warmer months.

Why you should avoid the peak season

Many first-time buyers and second-steppers start looking at property over Christmas and begin their search in earnest in the new year. 

The pressure of being stuck with Mum and Dad over the holidays gets too much for some. And young families start to desire more space to store all of the gifts they receive.

The above factors coupled with the warming weather and desire for change create the perfect time to sell your house.

However, just as you are considering getting the house on the market, so too is everybody else. And this creates lots of competition and can reduce asking prices somewhat. It may be beneficial to hold out until a quieter period when supply is lower and fewer buyers are simply speculating rather than making a serious offer. 

Conveyancing and other related professions will also experience a lull during these quieter months. As a result, they can often complete the necessary work much faster.

Final thoughts

Traditional rhetoric would suggest that the worst time of year to sell your house is anything other than spring. But as you’ve seen, it’s not as simple as that. 

If your target market is those with young children, then late summer is problematic, as is the autumn when school starts again. But if you have a small flat or retirement-style property, then this won’t be such an issue.

It’s also worth considering any important external factors such as tax law changes that can affect the best time to sell a house. And keep an eye on the supply of houses in your area to avoid becoming just another house in an already overcrowded market. 

For more help and info regarding the sale of your property, contact the experts at Strawberry Star and let them put you on the right path to achieve a swift sale at the best price.