December Newsletter - New Year, New Home: selling in 2020

December Newsletter - New Year, New Home: selling in 2020

We're full of festive cheer in this month's edition! Alongside a selection of local events (which you can find below), we're offering tips for how to sell your property during this Christmas period and in the New Year, with 2020 just around the corner.

You'll also find good news on another average rise in house prices and we take a look at why first-time buyers have been on the rise in the market this year.

How to sell your home this Christmas period

There are some things that the British public simply cannot believe at this time of year; how cold it is, how dark it is and, above all, that it’s nearly Christmas. Nevertheless, Christmas is indeed upon us and if you are selling your home, or thinking of selling your home, you may be under the impression that it’s not the optimum time to bag a sale. Our top tips to sell your home at Christmas will show you that not only is it possible to sell your home during the festive season, it is a doddle.

Picture perfect
The average time that a buyer takes to look at a picture on a property advert is three seconds, so having the perfect image is essential in your quest to sell your home – especially at Christmas. When having your home photographed, it is important to think about the staging; ask yourself whether the clutter around your home has been put away, can you remove some of your personal items in order to create more space or give everything one last polish? Once you’ve ticked off those basics, think about the Christmas factor – do not include heavily decorated rooms in your photographs as they will detract from the space and may age your property if your home remains on the market in to January.

Keep the pine in line
Of course, at this time of year the Christmas tree has taken its place in our living rooms and other communal spaces, but make sure that the tree isn’t dwarfing the space it is in. We can all get carried away with the festivities, but this may not be the year to get the 7-foot Nordic spruce of your dreams – in the same way that cramming a king-size bed in to a single room will make the room appear cramped, an over-sized tree will also make your room seem smaller than it is. Buyers like to imagine their own furniture in potential new homes, so allow them the space to do so.

Serious offers only
Although some may suggest that Christmas is a difficult time to attract buyers to your home, what the period does provide is serious buyers. You can make the most of the serious buyers in December by ensuring that you see each property viewing as the optimum chance to sell – making sure that your home is in pristine shape and you are welcome and positive about the property and the area. Potential buyers can glean an image of what it may be like to live in the area from their interactions with you as the homeowner, so ensure that you are up-to-date about local schools and solely positive when they ask you any questions. Similarly, being flexible may bag your buyer as an accommodating vendor, who allows for viewings at irregular hours for example, could help clinch that crucial sale.

Preparation is key
Being organised could be the key in securing your Christmas sale. Make sure that your fixture and fittings list is put together, you have the legally required energy performance certificate and, if you have had work completed on the house, make sure you have the relevant consents. Solicitors can be the make-and-break in a sale scenario, with a slow solicitor frustrating both buyer and seller, so take recommendations from your estate agent and have an efficient solicitor all lined up, ready for a sale.

Being in a new home by the New Year can seem to be an impossible task, however by showing restraint with your festive decorations, and taking the appropriate steps to being prepared and organised you can certainly sell your home this Christmas and start your 2019 with the perfect gift – a new home.

Explaining the rise in first-time buyers in this year's market

Throughout 2019 there has been a steady increase in first-time buyers jumping onto the property ladder. Aberdeen buyers have benefitted the most, with some first-time buyers managing a real steal to purchase a house at a lower price than in 2013. However, the majority of Britain has seen first-time buyer prices retain an average cost which remains similar to the main market. The fair price has supported the first-time buyer market in having a fair shot at beginning their property journey. However, there are other aspects of the housing market that have also worked in favour of new buyers which are detailed below.

Brexit Bounce
It would be careless not to consider the effect that the upcoming general election and Brexit have had on the appetite of prospective buyers. But surprisingly, the number of first-time buyers has continued to rise and has been constant throughout the year, which is particularly impressive within this climate of uncertainty. The economic outlook is hard to predict due to a lack of decision making on Britain’s future from the country’s leaders, but what this has allowed is lower mortgage rates and favourable fixed-rate deals. That, in turn, has opened a window of opportunity for first-time buyers who have snapped up this option.

A Helping Hand to Buy
The extension of the Government Help to Buy scheme is another enticement for first-time buyers with the deadline for opening a Help to Buy ISA extended to the end of November, allowing a last-minute spike in applications. It has encouraged the younger generation to consider homeownership as a real possibility with the scheme allowing contributions until 2029.

According to HM Treasury data, a total of 234,074 property completions have been supported by the Help to Buy ISA scheme. It has also resulted in reducing the median age of a first-time buyer from 30 years old to 28 years old, indicating that younger people are now entering the property market and reaching the milestone of buying a first home. This age is set to reduce further as more first-time buyers save for their deposits, so it’s clear that the scheme has been a real success as well as being a great help for buyers to help make their dreams become a reality.

Variety in the market
Finally, it’s worth noting that there is a greater variety of homes available on the market, which has only accelerated the stream of sales to first-time buyers. Survey findings concluded that younger buyers understood and appreciated period style features such as high ceilings, fireplaces, and bay windows which is something usually associated mostly with more mature buyers.

These characteristics have been described by those surveyed as extravagant and interesting. As such, these features are beginning to be incorporated into new-build developments which ensures that the character of British property is maintained with the continuing demand from all potential buyers looking on the market.

Circus 1903 at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall

The American circus troupe showcases old favourites alongside new acts in a show that is sure to delight the whole family, from 19th December onwards!

Click here to read Circus 1903 at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall.

Christmas at the (Snow) Globe, 19th-23rd December

Someone has stolen the magic of Christmas from Snowdrop. Comedian Sandi Toksvig and her merry gang need your help to find it and bring it back to the Globe! 

Click here to read Christmas at the (Snow) Globe, 19th-23rd December.

New Year, New Home: selling your property in 2020

There is often speculation as to when is the best time to sell your home. Sellers often wait for certain times in the year that may be construed to be better than others. If you feel like you are ready to sell, you should seek a valuation and consider whether it is the right time for you, as it may well be right now.

The imminent general election has caused mixed feelings about the housing market with many waiting for the outcome of the election to see whether policy changes (such as stamp duty reforms), will be put in place. However, if you are considering selling your home, now is a good time to put your property on the market. There will always be other circumstances that can affect the housing market, but none of that should prevent you from getting a full market appraisal.

House prices have continued to increase throughout these uncertain times so you may be surprised at how much your home is worth. But no matter what time of the year it is, there are a few checks that you can run through to ensure that your home is in its optimum condition. High spec homes are attracting the attention of serious buyers, so if your house is well presented and organised, it will help potential buyers believe in your home.

Photos, photos, and more photos! If there was one factor alone that could attract potential buyers to your home, this is it. It’s key to make a good first impression, so ensure that photos are of a high specification, in natural daylight and show the full room to its full potential. Check that your home is neat and tidy so that buyers can visualise living in the home themselves.

‘Tis the season!
Leading on from photos, we have Christmas. It might be tempting to make your home a festive feast for the eyes, but you should ensure that you have photos of your home without decorations up. This is so that those viewing can see how the space in the home could look throughout the year.

Christmas time is where we can really show off our homes and display how inviting it is, giving viewers a lasting feeling about your home. The festive spirit is a great tool but be mindful to use tasteful festive décor without too many different colours. Everybody has different tastes so a more neutral Christmas touch will work best if you have viewings over the Christmas season. Potential buyers will also be able to see a sense of community and good spirits in the neighbourhood.

It should go without saying, but your home needs to be clean and tidy when on the market, both inside and out; you never know when a potential buyer may be driving past the home unexpectedly! Keep leaves swept off the garden and ensure that doorbells and outside lights are working, which will show that the home has been well maintained. Inside, you want to prove that there is ample storage space, so anything that is left out on tables, sides or shelves should be there for a reason. That way potential buyers can see that there is plenty of storage to maintain a tidy home.

Remember all that important paperwork that you keep in that ‘safe place’? Now’s the time to dig it out! Important paperwork relating to deed titles and guarantee certificates for any work you have had done are essential during the selling process; collate any paperwork that you have for the home into a folder so that you can show prospective buyers that everything is in order.

House prices rise: property market on this year's Good List

Data released by The Office for National Statistics states that house prices in the UK have, on average, increased by 1.3%; a strong position considering the political uncertainty sweeping the UK in 2019. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland saw an average of 3% with England averaging at 1%, with a quick comparison to last year showing an average price rise of £3,000.

Region, Region, Region
Regionally, the strongest locations continue to be across North of England with a predicted rise amongst the South of the country over the next few years. London is still slightly behind in terms of price growth but is predicted to catch up over the coming years.

The effects of Brexit
As the year ends, it is fair to conclude that Brexit has influenced the growth of house prices, even with this noted increase. August and September saw the same growth figures reducing further, but October saw those figures start to creep up slightly again with a 0.3% rise. This positive result and the outlook for the future of UK property seems to have been supported by current levels of employment and low borrowing costs for buyers. This appears to have offset the reduced confidence in the property market and should reinforce trust for the New Year.

New Homes surge
New build houses are rising at an accelerating rate compared to the existing housing stock. This can be down to them having better features and more amenities. The current property shortfall also contributes to this with newly built homes being in high demand resulting in a higher asking price. This trend currently leaves the average price of a new build property at £316,789, with existing homes currently sitting at £245,173 according to data provided by Zoopla.

Interestingly, homes located in leave voting areas have seen an average of 9.97% overall growth since 2016, with remain voting areas growing on average of 8.13%. However, this should be viewed as a coincidence instead of a direct correlation as many other local factors contribute to this. The position of both leave and remain areas shows another positive result for price growth over these last few uncertain years.

Election season
Even with the General Election looming, which could serve as a light at the end of the tunnel for the stagnation of Brexit, the market’s continued success is some good news to hold onto over the festive season. Christmas time is usually associated with a slight slowdown in the buying and selling process, but this year sees the market slowly aligning to others as a busy period. More valuations and home improvements from sellers shows that people are choosing to use their time at Christmas to take hold of a great opportunity and get their house on the market. It’s a solid place on the Good List this Christmas for the property sector this year!

Southwark Cathedral Choir Christmas Concert - Fri 20th Dec

Come and hear the Boys and Gentlemen of the Southwark Cathedral Choir perform Handel's famous masterpiece Messiah.

Click here to read Southwark Cathedral Choir Christmas Concert - Fri 20th Dec.