Ask any estate agent about the current state of the housing market and you are likely to be greeted with a scowl! At the start of this year, agents (and their vendor clients), hoped for signs of the long awaited recovery and although there have been one or two encouraging economic indicators, the reality is that the market is only just starting to get fully get underway.
So why have things been so sluggish? The answer lies partly in the continuing financial recession and lack of available mortgage funding but there is also something else that has had an impact and that is the weather. Blaming the weather might sound like a weak excuse but I am convinced that it does have a bearing on both buyer and seller behaviour.
When the weather is cold, wet or even snowy, it is human nature to adopt a ‘hunker down and stay in’ mentality. The opposite however is also true. Sunshine is the perfect antidote, particularly with a touch of warmth, when we all feel that much more positive and walk with a spring in our step.
After the long and miserable winter, we started to see a pick-up in viewings and new properties being put on to the market at the end of February and beginning of March with many agents thinking; ‘Great, here we go’, only for the recent protracted cold snap leading to everything going back into hibernation again. The same thing happened during the wet spell last summer.
After the delayed start to spring, gardens are at long last coming to life making them more photo friendly and we expect the improved weather will lead to more houses being put on to the market. A wider choice will encourage more buyers to search for a new home and with many of those extra buyers being prospective sellers as well, it should end up being a self-perpetuating exercise.
Although sadly we cannot control the weather, there are things that sellers can do to make their homes more attractive at this time of year. The proverbial ‘spring clean’ is a great start as is a thorough de-clutter and whilst buyers do not necessary expect to see a show house, it should appear smart and tidy. Good lighting, flowers and a touch of room fragrance all help whilst in the garden, lawns need to be mowed and instant colour can be provided by tubs of spring bulbs.
For a house to stand out, particularly as it is almost certainly going to be first seen on the internet, good photography is absolutely essential. Pick an agent that uses professional photography as a matter of course and one that ensures that winter shots are replaced by more flattering spring/early summer pictures.
There is a market out there and with a touch of warm sunshine, we should see it blossom again!