The ideal way to put an estate agent in a dilemma at this time of year is to ask whether as a prospective rural house seller, you should put your home on the market now or to wait until the spring. The reason for the estate agent’s discomfort is that he is more than likely to be desperately short of properties to sell as the year nears its end and would very much welcome some fresh instructions but at the same time knowing that spring is the more usual time to be thinking of launching a sales campaign when the market is traditionally more active.
There are certainly disadvantages in trying to sell a house in December; one of the primary ones being that unless one had the forethought to take them back in the summer, it is more difficult to capture those essential flattering photographs with the low winter sun (when it deigns to appear) being available for only a short time and casting long shadows.
Gardens and the countryside are without doubt less colourful although they are not necessarily completely devoid of interest all together and on a bright winter’s day can be lovely. Frosty or snowbound shots are best avoided and like daffodil filled gardens in March, can date a photograph very quickly although a good estate agent will update seasonal shots at the earliest opportunity.
The other thing of course is that there are fewer buyers around at this time of year but for the seller, there is also less competition. Those purchasers that are hardy enough to venture out on a cold, dark blustery day and are prepared to ignore the distractions of Christmas shopping to go house hunting are often genuine, seriously motivated buyers. This year, certainly, we are seeing plenty of fresh viewers who have recently completed their chains and are keen to complete their rural move.
It is also true that some rural houses can appear positively gloomy in the depths of winter whilst others, once the lights are on, curtains drawn and fires lit, can be quite jolly and cosy. Therefore the age, style and orientation of a property can be quite influential as to whether they are likely to be winter sellers as can be their décor and furnishings.
The circumstances of some vendors, such as those who have found somewhere else to buy, an executors sale, the property is vacant or there is a job move involved means that there may be little choice as to when to market and there will also be some who will have a ‘let’s just get on with it’ attitude.
The counter arguments for waiting until March or April are perhaps more obvious. The spring is a warmer, greener and more upbeat time of the year and by convention is when both house buyers and sellers (most are both) come out of hibernation, leading to a spring ‘buzz’ and more activity.
With positive signs of improvement in the fortunes of the UK economy, there is a feeling that 2014 will see some growth in the housing sector but it is necessary to remain cautious as the continuing weakness of the Euro Zone could hold things back and a long, cold winter might suppress the spring market or stifle it altogether as was the case earlier this year.
So to get back to the original question, do we put our house on the market now or later? The answer is a fence sitting; ‘do it when it suits you’!