When is the best time to sell a house?
When is the best time
to sell a house?
Deciding when the best time is to sell a house can be difficult, with many factors to consider.
Throughout this guide, our aim is to help you determine when selling up and moving house is the right time. We look at when you should start looking at buying your next property and help you decide at which point to put your current property on the market.
On top of this, we look at how the housing market changes during the four seasons and identify the best times of the year to list your property for maximum interest and the best possible sale price.
Finally, we look at how other changes in both national and local housing markets can impact your planned sale and tell you what to look out for in order to predict the best time to sell your house.
Feel free to use the Quick Page Navigation links below to skip through and find the answer to any question you may have.
Quick Page Navigation
1. Four main reasons why homeowners decide to sell their home
In the main, there are just four reasons why homeowners may consider selling their house, flat or maisonette.
Given that moving can be challenging, costly, and time-consuming, it’s important to evaluate your options and determine if selling your home is truly the best course of action. In this chapter, we’ll examine the most common reasons why people sell their homes, as well as alternative solutions to selling up.
One of the most common reasons people move is to upsize their overall living space. This is especially true when families are growing and new relationships are establishing. Many homeowners also upsize because they have hobbies that require a lot of space or because they need a home office or studio for their work.
Never has this been more true than when coming out of the recent Covid-19 pandemic. We witnessed an unprecedented ‘race for space’ with homeowners searching for out of town homes with more green space.
An alternative to upsizing which can work well for some properties is to add an extension. If your home is in an area where permitted development is allowed and you have the space in your garden, you can construct an extension of up to six meters, or eight meters if your property is detached all without a detailed planning application. While this can be expensive, disruptive, and time-consuming, adding an extension could enable you to stay in the home you love even when your space requirements increase.
Downsizing is another reason homeowners often decide to sell their houses. As children grow up and leave the nest, or as homeowners approach retirement, they may no longer need as much space as they once did. People may also need or want to downsize after a relationship break down.
A larger home can be more challenging and expensive to maintain, especially as one gets older. Many pensioners can literally become stuck in big unaffordable houses as they grow old. Downsizing early enough into retirement, to a smaller home can offer a simpler, more manageable lifestyle. This could also reduce monthly expenses, such as utility bills and council tax.
An alternative to downsizing is to consider renting out unused rooms or spaces in your current home. This could provide much needed additional income and help offset the costs of maintaining a large property. However, this option requires being comfortable with sharing your living space and taking on the responsibilities of being a ‘live-in’ landlord.
1.3 Relocating for work or lifestyle
There are times when people need to sell their house due to job changes or personal preferences that require relocation. This could include accepting a job in another city, desiring a change of scenery, or wanting to move closer to family and friends. Selling your house and purchasing a new one in your desired location can help facilitate this transition.
An alternative to selling your house and buying a new one is to consider letting out your current property and renting a new home in your desired location. This can provide flexibility and help you maintain an investment in property while exploring new areas. However, once again, this does come with the downside of having to manage a rental property.
1.4 Financial reasons
Sadly, there are situations where selling your home may become financially advisable or indeed necessary. This could be due to changing mortgage rates, personal circumstances, or to fund investment in a new business opportunity. This could mean looking at alternative ways of selling your property quick.
One key reason people sell their homes is to fund the repayment of large debts with high interest rates, such as credit cards. For some, this could represent the best time to sell a house. Selling a home to repay debt could save an enormous amount of money in the long run by avoiding compounding interest. Another option is to re-mortgage the property if possible. This can give the homeowner access to the capital they need to repay their debts while potentially reducing their interest payments, as mortgages are generally cheaper than credit cards. While it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons, in some cases, selling a home may be the best option.
As a last resort, you may want to consider a Sale and Rent Back (SARB) scheme. SARB schemes are operated by private companies who will buy your house and then rent it back to you. While they can offer you a way to stay in your property when all other options have failed, they do come with some downsides. These can include a low sale price and the risk of eviction if the homeowner breaks the terms of the tenancy agreement.
2. Should you sell first or buy first?
Once you’ve decided to move, you’ll face an age-old decision: should you sell your current home first, then search for a new one, or should you find your next home first and then sell your current one to fund it? This decision can greatly impact the home buying process and can be much more complicated than it at first seems.
Both of these options has its benefits, and many choose the middle ground option of selling and buying at the same time. This can provide a smooth transition from one home to the next, but it does come with its own set of challenges.
2.1 Selling first
When it is possible, selling your property before you find somewhere new to buy can be hugely advantageous.
Selling first ensures that you have a clear budget for your new home, can help you make informed decisions about the affordability of your next home. This can help prevent you from overextending yourself financially.
In addition, selling first can make you a more attractive buyer in the eyes of sellers and estate agents. With the proceeds from your previous property sale in hand, you’ll be in a stronger position to negotiate and move quickly when you find the perfect home. This can be particularly advantageous in a competitive housing market. Sellers may prioritise buyers who have already sold their homes and can move forward without any delay.
However, selling first does come with some drawbacks. One significant concern is the potential need for temporary accommodation which can be both inconvenient and costly. Additionally, selling first can create a sense of urgency to find a new home, which might lead to hasty decisions or compromises on your ideal property.
2.2 Buying first
On the other hand, agreeing the purchase of a new home before selling your current one allows for a smoother transition between properties. You can take your time finding the perfect home, without the pressure of needing to vacate your existing property quickly. This approach also eliminates the need for temporary accommodation, as you can move directly from one home to the other.
However, buying first comes with its own set of challenges. If it takes longer than expected to sell your current home the owners of your new purchase may become impatient and withdraw from the sale to you altogether. After all they will still be open to other offers until any time up to the point of exchanging contracts.
Most importantly, buying first gives you piece of mind in knowing that you are not under pressure to sell.
3. When is the best time to sell a house?
Once you have decided to sell your house, you will need to put it on the market. When you decide to do this can make a substantial difference to how quickly your property will sell and critically how much for.
By understanding how the UK housing market fluctuates throughout the year you can choose when to market your property for maximum effect. Remember, seasons impact people’s lives, and therefore their house hunting habits. By being aware of these seasonal trends, you can take advantage to achieve a quicker sale and hopefully a higher price.
3.1 Is Spring really the best time to sell?
Generally speaking, most property experts consider Spring the best time to put a house up for sale.
This is backed up by data from Rightmove, which shows properties put onto the market in March 2022 had the highest number of buyers enquiring about them on average. The data also found April was the second-best month to sell in, followed by May.
There are a couple of good reasons for this. Typically, buyers start looking for property around the new year, spurred on by their desires for a fresh start or a change. However, it tends to take a few months before they feel they have seen enough homes to start making offers.
In addition, with gardens coming into bloom and natural sunlight lighting them, homes start to look more attractive in the springtime. House hunters are also much more willing to go look at houses in sunny weather than when it is miserable, dark, and overcast, particularly if they are travelling a long way.
Finally, Spring also works well with a lot of people’s schedules and lives. Fewer holidays are taken in Spring, and more people tend to be in happier spirits looking to make a change such as moving house.
3.2 Should you sell in Summer?
Whilst it is many people’s favourite season, summer is normally not the best time to start marketing a house for sale.
This is because there is often a slowdown of activity, as children come off school and many people take holidays abroad.
In addition, families will often start their searches earlier in the year, as they want to be in their new homes before the school year changes. This is so they can help limit the interruption to their children’s education.
Basically, summer is too busy for families to be able to house hunt during it, and therefore is not optimum for finding a buyer for most larger properties. People with young family’s generally begin hunting properly again in September when their children go back to school. As a result, marketing your property at this point can be a good idea. This also ties in with many buyers wanting to be in their new home for Christmas with the average ‘ideal’ house sale with no chain, taking approximately 16 weeks.
Bungalows tend to be an exception to these rules, as they are often popular with older people, who are generally less willing to deal with the cold and dark to attend viewings.
3.3 Selling houses in Autumn: Good idea?
Autumn can be a good time to sell a house. While fewer buyers tend to be in the market than in Spring, they are often more motivated. This is because a tighter timeline of moving before winter looms.
Unlike in Summer, children are at school and so people have the time to house hunt, and while the weather holds out your house should still look attractive.
October, in particular, is a good time for a speedy sale, with data from the Homeowners Alliance indicating it only takes 62 days on average to sell a house that was put on the market during that month.
Do not leave coming to the market too late, however. Nobody wants to move over Christmas, and November is generally the worst month possible for marketing a house.
3.4 Is it possible to sell a property in Winter?
Selling a house in Winter can be challenging compared to other seasons. According to statistics from Rightmove, the number of people searching for property drops significantly over Christmas, but then picks up again from Boxing Day onwards.
Some experts recommend taking your house off the market if you don’t sell before Christmas and relisting it again in the New Year. You can do this as early as Boxing Day, but it’s generally a good idea to wait until February.
This is because people start looking to move in January, but they tend not to start buying until February. By relisting your property in February, you can stand out from the houses that have been on the market since the 26th of December or January the 1st, which may look stale to buyers who have already been searching for two months.
When relisting your property, you’ll need to hire a new estate agent, as Rightmove will not relist a property with the same agent unless it has been off the market for 14 weeks. Changing estate agents at this point can be a good idea in any case because if your agent hasn’t sold your house by Christmas, they may not be up to the task. If your agent has a tie-in period, you should negotiate this down to two months or less. This is so that you can switch to a new agent and restart the process in February.
3.5 Do school holidays really matter when marketing a house for sale?
When marketing large family homes you should always avoid putting them on the market during school holidays.
This is because the vast majority of buyers for these larger three-bedroom plus homes are parents and will often be too busy keeping their youngsters entertained to look for houses during these “breaks”. Property experts say this is not the best time to sell a house as the overall level of interest will be lower.
You can find out when the school holidays are in your area by checking the Government’s website.
3.6 When should I sell my flat?
Flats, apartments, maisonettes and smaller one or two bed houses tend to sell best in January, February, and September.
Buyers for these properties tend to be younger, childless, and looking to make a change after being cooped up in rented accommodation over Winter.
As a result, avoiding school holidays is less important for smaller properties.
4. Should you let the market affect when you sell?
When considering the best time to sell your house you should take what the wider housing market is doing into account. However, you should not let this determine your actions fully.
If you really do need to move for personal or professional reasons, we suggest you carry on doing so.
However, if you can hold off on selling for a bit, keeping an eye on national and local trends can help you achieve the best price possible.
4.1 How local property markets impact the best time to sell a house?
There are a whole range of factors which can affect the housing market in a local area, most of which impact supply and demand. When more people want to buy houses in an area, property prices rise and when fewer people want to buy, prices tend to fall.
A good example of this is when a large employer, such as a power plant, or factory opens in an area. A substantial increase in new jobs being created can lead to more people wanting to live and buy property in a specific area. This could then lead to a greater demand in housing and drive an increase in house prices. Conversely, if a large employer closes down, and the local economy worsens, this could lead to prices falling with fewer people having a reason to live in the area. In some cases, this can lead to people simply selling up and leaving.
Other hyper-local factors, such as roadworks or building work, can also impact property prices. These activities can be unsightly, noisy, and bothersome. This can reduce the perceived value of a property for potential buyers. Timing your sale to avoid such disruptions could be advantageous.
4.2 How can the National property market impact when you should sell?
The state of the national housing market has a significant impact on local property prices. As a savvy house seller, national trends should play a major role in determining when to sell your house for the best price.
By keeping an eye on several key factors affecting the national housing market, you can make an informed decision about when is best to sell your house.
Firstly, it’s important to monitor house prices. Typically, selling a property for a good price is much more challenging when prices are declining. Waiting until the market has stabilised can help you get a better deal.
Secondly, it’s essential to monitor mortgage interest rates. An increase in the Bank of England base rate makes borrowing money more expensive. In general, this reduces buyers’ budgets and causes demand, and subsequently, house prices to fall back. Therefore, if rates are increasing, and the market has not crashed, it may be a good time to sell. This could point to a peak in pricing for some time.
Finally, it’s crucial to consider government policies and schemes that can affect demand for property. For example, the most recent Help to Buy scheme and Stamp Duty Holiday introduced in 2021 have both significantly increased demand and house prices during these periods.
During election years, the housing market tends to slow down due to buyers being uncertain about future policies. However, in reality, the impact of this can be minor, and if there are other reasons to sell your property soon, you should not let it discourage you.
4.3 Should I sell my house in Spring 2023?
The expert consensus appears to be yes!
The start of 2023 has seen a sluggish property market, with prices staying practically stagnant. No one knows what house prices will be doing in a year, and many are currently predicting a fall in house prices.
This is because of the recent on-going rises in the Bank of England’s base rate impacting mortgages. This means borrowing is now much less affordable than it was just six months ago. The net effect will be that more people will want to sell with fewer people able to buy.
While you might not get quite as much for your house now as you would have at the peak of 2022, we are likely near the peak of the market. This makes selling now as good a time as ever.
Deciding when is the best time to sell a house is one of the most complex choices you may ever encounter.