Due to the size and liquidity of the UK housing market, it has been relatively easy to identify the best and worst month to sell a house. UK buyers and sellers are influenced by not only seasonal patterns but also interest rates. Then there is unemployment and the prospects for the broader economy. The introduction of the Internet has also significantly impacted the property sector. However, perhaps not to the same degree as other industries regarding buying patterns.
There is a lot of research about the best and worst month to sell a house, UK-wide, which we have considered for this article. It certainly makes for interesting reading, but there are many changing factors to consider.
Seasonal trends in the UK housing market
Even though it is now possible to advertise your home on the Internet, vastly increasing the number of potential buyers, there are still well-defined seasonal trends. We will now look at the different seasons and how these impact house prices and the chances of selling your property.
Spring (March, April, May)
Let’s start on a positive note. The spring season is when many of us are looking to the future with confidence. Research by The Advisory/Rightmove found spring is one of the better seasons to list your property for sale. The data pinpoints March as the optimum month, with those placed on the market in March taking just 57 days to go under offer.
There are many factors to consider concerning spring, which include:-
As we move into spring, lighter evenings begin to emerge. This provides better weather/more hours for house viewings, and gives many people a boost. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a recognised condition that peaks in the dark, cold winter. Spring is a welcome relief to us all!
Improving weather (hopefully!)
Even though much of the weather of late has been unseasonal, typically, spring will bring about an improvement in temperatures and general climate. This has a naturally positive impact on our outlook and time spent outdoors, socialising, and visiting potential homes of the future.
While the longer summer holidays, when couples and families tend to go on holiday, usually have a negative impact on the housing market, the Easter break and bank holidays are slightly different. Many people use these holidays to review their housing situation, look for potential new homes and arrange viewings.
Gardens in full bloom
When looking to sell a house, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. With gardens and landscaping often playing a significant role. However, in the wintertime, even the best-kept garden won’t be in full bloom, losing its magnetism to potential buyers. Come springtime, your earlier gardening work will come to fruition, with plants blooming and lawns well-manicured.
As you can see, springtime has some advantages for those looking to sell their property. It differs from the stereotypical time of year when people look for holidays in the UK or overseas, hence more time to focus on other areas of life, such as finding a new home.
In summary, while spring tends to be one of the better periods during which to list your property, many people will also think the same. It is a delicate balance between the number of buyers and sellers. If buyers get the upper hand, you may need to accept a lower price. On the flip side, if there are fewer properties for sale and more potential buyers, this puts you in a good position.
Best month to list property: March
Worst month to list property: n/a
Housing market statistic: On average, it takes just 57 days for a March listing to go under offer, the best of any month.
Summer (June, July, August)
Several industries are quiet in the summer months. This is very noticeable in the UK housing market, with several factors to consider. When looking for the worst month to sell a house in the UK, the summer tends to feature heavily.
Schools are generally closed for six weeks over the summer period, which reduces the free time for parents and grandparents. Trying to keep the children entertained for six weeks is a nearly impossible job. Hence, there is little focus on the property market and even less appetite for moving house.
Looking at the wider context, summer tends to be the time when most of us take our annual break. The excitement in the run-up to holidays, the holiday period, and “getting back to normal” on your return takes up much of the summer. Therefore, there is little appetite for listing properties, going through legal work and negotiating a sale price from your sun lounger.
In general, better weather and lighter, longer evenings mean more time to visit properties after work. On the one hand, those not looking towards a summer holiday, perhaps deciding that a move is more important, will be incentivised to find their next home. On the flip side, the extra daylight in the evening can sometimes prompt “less serious” buyers, which can occasionally delay the sales process.
There are other technical factors to consider if you are looking to list your property for sale in the summer. June can be an excellent time to sell, before people go on holiday, with July not too bad but August effectively a closed shop.
Occasionally, you will also find that properties listed in spring, but not yet sold/under offer, are carried forward to the summer. This could tip the balance in favour of more properties for sale than buyers, weakening prices. The experts suggest that unless your property is listed by the beginning of July, you are effectively wasting your time over the summer period.
Best month to list property: June
Worst month to list property: August
Housing market statistic: Houses listed on a Monday took just 176 days to complete to settlement, against 213 days for a Sunday.
Autumn (September, October, November)
Historically, autumn has been one of the more productive seasons of the year in which to list your property for sale. Even though the weather is undoubtedly changing, there are several reasons why buyers are more motivated. These include:-
Move in before Christmas
Generally, the UK economy comes to a standstill over the festive period, except for those seasonal businesses. Many people take time off work to spend with their family. Children are off school, and professional services, such as solicitors, etc., literally close down a week before and after Christmas. Consequently, this is why October is the best month to list your property in autumn, giving buyers sufficient time to complete and move.
One last Christmas at home
Families will often consider “one last Christmas” in their old home before looking to the New Year and a new start. Some potential sellers will put off listing their home until the New Year, concerned there may be delays in a sale and subsequent purchase of a new home. Many will also be concerned that they won’t be able to get the best price for the property if, as happens typically, there are fewer potential buyers.
The autumn period is an exciting time of year for the property market. While there are fewer sellers, many buyers are more serious than those in the summertime. We then have buyers looking to complete as soon as possible and move before Christmas. Some sellers are often reluctant to commit to moving near to the festive period.
Much of the research carried out in the UK housing market shows that buyers tend to hibernate after October. We know that a good few won’t re-emerge until the New Year. This is undoubtedly a time of the year when your estate agent will need to earn their corn!
Best month to list property: October
Worst month to list property: November
Housing market statistic: According to Rightmove, you need to be listed prior to Tuesday to enjoy the best daily search engine traffic.
Winter (December, January, February)
The winter period is a game of two halves; it effectively closes in December and then begins to warm up in January and February. However, it can be an interesting time of the year if you are a buyer!
There are many issues to consider if you’re looking to list your property in winter or a potential buyer:-
Carried over sales
If a property is listed for sale in December, it is typically either a time-critical sale or carried over from the previous months. Due to the relative inactivity in December, many sellers may be open to negotiating on price just to “get it over with”. Consequently, buyers who can close relatively quickly may find some bargains.
Cold dark nights
As we approach winter, people, never mind animals, will begin to hibernate. Many will wait until the New Year, seeing this as a time for change. The darker nights will also leave less time to visit properties in daylight hours. Which can significantly diminish the curb appeal that buyers and sellers often focus on.
Businesses winding down for Christmas
There is no doubt that businesses begin to wind down as we move into December, which can significantly impact legal and financial services, such as mortgages. Any relatively small delays at the beginning of the sales process can lead to lengthy settlement issues further down the line.
On the surface, winter doesn’t seem appealing for those looking to list their property. While December is effectively a write-off for several reasons, seen by many as the worst month to sell a house, UK regional markets can differ. Thankfully, buyers and sellers tend to approach the New Year with a more positive outlook and upbeat attitude. Consequently, things will start to improve in January. February is actually a reasonably good month for those looking to list, as buyers return to the market.
Best month to list property: February
Worst month to list property: December
Housing market statistic: Timing is critical so that your property is listed in the “newest listed” section for as long as possible at the peak buying months.
Identifying the worst month to sell a house in the UK
We have identified many seasonal variations above, but a report by The Advisory highlighted another interesting factor. When sellers are likely to achieve above or below their asking price. While there will be regional variations due to several issues, the typical pattern is as follows:-
Springtime – initially, sale prices are slightly below the asking price. However, in the second half of spring, they move ahead of the asking price curve.
Summertime – simple, prices generally are significantly less than the asking price.
Autumn time – prices start well below the asking price, perhaps a carryover from the summertime, gradually moving above the asking price towards the end of the season.
Wintertime – despite the market improving towards the end of January into February, sale prices are typically below the asking price.
In summary, the worst time to sell a house in the UK is over winter, November/December to be exact. March is typically the best time to list a property. While these seasonal variations may be relatively small, even a 5% difference on the average UK property (circa £280,000) equates to £14,000. This puts it into perspective!
Additional factors to consider when selling your house
Aside from the traditional seasonal variations, there are many additional factors to consider. In answer to the common question – why are houses not selling at the moment?
Politics – political issues can create uncertainty across the broader economy. This prompts many buyers and sellers to step back until things are clearer.
Economics – there is no season for economics. Interest rate movements and the release of economic data occur constantly throughout the year.
Local issues – the direction of the local economy, together with other housing developments, can positively and negatively impact the local property market.
Inflation – as we have seen recently, high inflation can drastically reduce the spending power of many households. This directly impacts the housing market.
While the above issues are out of our control, there are also personal issues which may be impacting the timing of a house sale, such as:-
Unemployment – this can dramatically reduce household income, placing mortgage payments under threat.
Separation – many divorces will result in the sale of the family home – there is often little control over timing.
Retirement – while there is a little more control over timing, as retirement is approaching, on reduced income, many homeowners will struggle to cover the bills for relatively large homes.
Death – upon death, the assets of your estate will be liquidated and funds transferred to the beneficiaries. This can impact the timing of a listing.
Repairs – we often see many homes listed because the owners cannot afford major repairs. Further delays can make a complex problem even worse.
As a property investor, here at Cash House, we provide an additional option to those looking to sell their home relatively quickly. Transparent and upfront about our valuations, we are one of the leading 30-day house sale specialists, compared to the average sale time of around nine months.
We will consider homes of all conditions, from those which require little, if any, work to those that need potential redevelopment. Once the sale has been agreed, we appreciate that time can often be of the essence. Working with legal experts, we will cover the costs for both sides of the transaction. This ensures a swift sale and receipt of proceeds within as little as 30 days.
Conclusion: The worst month to sell a house in the UK
Research about the worst month to sell a house, UK-wide, will probably come as no surprise. It’s December. Certainly, something to consider when timing any future sale.
While the stereotypical sale seasons still exist, there will be local variations. Also, the Internet has undoubtedly allowed sellers to increase their exposure to potential buyers. The majority of people will have a degree of control over the timing of a sale. Unfortunately, others may be forced into a relatively quick sale due to financial issues.
As a cash buyer, our team at Cash House can provide an immediate valuation backed up by a site visit. We are open and transparent in how we arrive at our valuations. As well as appreciating that these can be challenging times for sellers. Once a sale has been agreed, we will look after the paperwork and additional expenses. You can expect settlement in as little as 30 days. Remember, as we are cash buyers, we are not impacted by the seasons. So, for us, there isn’t really a worst month to sell a house in the UK.
Cash House provides a more personal approach for clients. We are available to answer any questions or queries before or after initial discussions. There are no hidden extras or additional costs. What you see is what you get, with a view to settling your sale as quickly as possible. If you’d like to see how we can help your situation, click the link to get a quote now.