Spring is the traditionally said to be the best time to sell your house – but if that’s going to be you in 2021, then right now is the time to start thinking about it.
January is the time when people start to browse for new property – Christmas is over, work’s in full swing, and this year there’s the glumness of lockdown to ward off with some online house shopping too.
The property market is still open – there are a few extra hurdles, but it’s still entirely possible to move. If you’re a 2021 seller, then now might be an excellent time to get your house on the market to get ahead of the Spring competition. But it’s a big decision – and even when you know it’s the right time there’s often a feeling of overwhelm. What should you do first? Where to begin? What do you really need to do to the house? When do you do the legal stuff?
Fear not – we’ve rounded up a group of the most experienced local experts to help with their top insider tips on how to move house with as little stress as possible…
In an ideal world, where all your clients sold their homes your way, what would be your tip tips to ensure a quick and easy sale?
The simple things you just wish every homeowner would do?
- The experts were unanimous in their first tip: prepare, prepare, prepare.
James McKillop, Head of Residential at Savills was very firm “First and foremost, prepare. Instruct a solicitor, prepare a draft contract pack and apply for searches, especially as they can take many weeks at present”. Susie Palin from Meyers agreed
“Appoint a solicitor early in the process so they can begin their work as soon as possible, and have all documentation associated with the house in a file ready to go including any planning permissions, building regulations, safety certificates (Gas and Electric) and make your estate agent aware of any boundary issues that might rear their head during the ‘searches process’.
2. The second tip is the one we all know: Declutter!
“Do take the time to make sure that everything is spic and span and that the house looks great from the outside as this is where the first impressions will be formed.” Says Sarah Cull, Associate Director at Strutt & Parker. George Sparks, Local Sales Expert for Dorset at PurpleBricks agreed “you aren’t on the market every day so it’s worth putting in some effort to ensure it’s presented at its best.”
But don’t go mad says Richard Stubbart from Greenslade Taylor Hunt “To ensure any property is marketed to its full potential, we always ask clients to ensure the property is left in a presentable condition. This does not necessarily need to involve financial investment, but to make sure the decks are clear for first impressions.”
And on the flip side, what are your top three tips for anyone buying a house?
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, we got a unanimous consensus on this one; George put it most succinctly: “Be nice to the estate agent!
The agent may have other properties of interest and it’s human nature that the first person they are going to call is someone they enjoy talking to.”
Sarah also pointed out that “At Strutt & Parker we sell a good deal of property ‘off the market’ to strong buyers who are registered on our mailing list and who we build a rapport with. Don’t just reply to the online presence for houses.”
George also pointed out a little patience goes a long way “Buying and selling homes can be stressful for everyone but more so if someone is inflexible and unrealistic with their timescales. Everyone is in the same boat wanting the same thing – to move house. Remember that people’s lives are almost on hold when they’re moving so its a good time to be understanding.”
2. Simon Neville-Jones, Branch Manager at Lodestone Property Shaftesbury said you must be clear about what you’re searching for:
“the number of rooms, outside space, parking, work space… and of course a clear budget.”
James suggested that doing your research is important – but do stay open “road noise, near neighbours etc can all be identified before you visit and it saves you a potentially wasted trip. If you have a “tick list”, be positive; 7/10 is pretty good!” Richard points out that this is more important than ever
“Due to COVID there are restrictions and safety protocols in place for viewings. It is important to carry out as much online research of a property before undertaking a viewing in person. Google maps and virtual tours are the best way to undertake initial research. “
3. Susie said it’s as simple as being ready.
Have all monies ready; if a First Time Buyer, and you need a mortgage, have your ‘ decision in principal/agreement in principal’ ready before you look to buy your next home and if you are selling your current home in order to move, in this current CV-19 climate, be prepared to need to be ‘proceedable’ before you even start to look around. Ideally you’ll be ‘under offer’ already, know your buyer and what the chain is if any.
Did anything significantly change in the 2020 local housing market?
- Sarah spoke for everyone when she said “We had a huge change to the property market in 2020.
From lockdown in March when the market came to halt, to lockdown lifting and enjoying an exceptionally busy market bucking all expectations. Local people looked to upsize, whilst many buyers flocked to the country from more urban locations in search of more space and less neighbours.“
George agreed “People know now they can work from home. Instead of living in an urban area close to the office why not live in the beautiful countryside and have your office in the comfort of your own home? Who wouldn’t want that?”
Simon had some fascinating data to back it up “The annual price rise recorded in the South West of England in September 2020 was double the level seen in the region the previous month according to the Office of National Statistics. Dorset and Somerset were two of the most searched counties in the south according to Rightmove, and the Land Registry data shows that detached homes saw the biggest annual price rises in the UK.
2. James had a different issue with the rush to move to the country: “The concern is the shortage of good houses to sell. It doesn’t matter if it is a £300,000 cottage, a £1,000,000 townhouse or a £2,000,000 country house – if it is a best in class property for its price, there are buyers registered for it “
What do you see 2021 bringing in terms of property market trends?
- Once again there was a unanimous consensus.
“In 2020 the UK property market saw a huge shift in people moving to rural spaces as a result of the pandemic.” Said Simon.
“…the trend to move out of the cities to a more rural environment will continue apace, especially now with the 3rd lockdown. We now all know that remote working is possible and buyers are looking for a much better quality of life.”
“Although the stamp duty holiday is due to end at the end of March, I believe there will still be strong demand for property in the west country.” agreed Richard “This current lockdown will only fuel further lifestyle moves, whether for for work or family reasons.
- The second unanimous point was… it’s en timely unpredictable!
George points out that “This is a difficult one as there are a some many variables that are so new to have to deal with, for example the length of lockdowns, the vaccine and of course the Stamp Duty Holiday.”
James is confident though “My view is that if enough sellers bring their properties to market before March, we will see a continuation of the busy market at all price points. The demand is there but price sensitivity is very clearly dictating what is selling and what isn’t. If a property doesn’t sell within a 4 to 6 week window from launch at the moment, the price is probably too high.”
- The second unanimous point was… it’s en timely unpredictable!
Are there specifically desirable locations within the Blackmore Vale?
- Sarah was pleased to share that Strutt & Parker “…have had a very successful time in Ashmore this year, with competing bids on two houses and a good sale agreed on another delightful property. We also sold a substantial home in Marnhull off-market with no internet advertising needed.”
Richard agreed it was the desirable villages which were winning “Out of area buyers are looking for space and privacy, yet within easy reach of amenities. Those local villages with good amenities, such as Yetminster, Milborne Port & Thornford are achieving strong demand and excellent sales success”
Susie pointed out that “…houses with gardens and a value of around £300k+ are selling well currently. In my area also it is the villages that are proving most popular; Milborne St Andrew, Milton Abbas and the Winterbournes in particular”
Simon said that “We’ve seen keen interest in villages including Nether Compton, Sandford Orcas, Marnhull, the Donheads, Buckhorn Weston. Bruton led the way, topping Rightmove’s search list – the popular town saw a 72% increase in buyer searches in 2020.”
Susie was keen to explain Meyers’ current rules on house viewings during the pandemic:
“Personally I am being tested for CV-19 on a weekly basis so I can give reassurance to both my clients, and my family.
We pre-qualify all viewers; they must be ‘proceedable’, and have signed a disclaimer to confirm they are well and have not been exposed to CV-19.
In addition to that, each viewing is booked in isolation to others. We only ever have one family in the house at any one time. No small children allowed (as they will want to touch things!) and we try to keep viewings to a maximum of 2 adults from the same household.
Every person has their temperature taken before they enter the house, face masks are mandatory and everyone is briefed not to touch anything within the house.
For the sellers part, they are asked to vacate the house as we do viewings, and to leave all internal doors open.
Richard had a final warning for 2021 viewers:
“Sell before you buy.
Due to Covid, agents and vendors are limiting viewing activity and only focusing on those prospects who are in a position to offer immediately.
Searching for a new home will always be exciting, and with the multitude of online property listings nowadays it can be tempting to search for your dream home when your current property is not yet on the market. It is important to not get carried away and fall in love with a house before you have a buyer, or you may lose out on the house of your dreams to someone with the funds already available.
I’m not selling – what about the rental market?
Rachael Cook, a partner at Taylor & Co Lettings in Shaftesbury had some advice specifically for those in the rental market:
“When it comes to rental property and ensuring you find the right tenant quickly and
easily, we usually suggest that landlords try and get ahead of the game and ensure their properties are ready to go before you start viewings. There’s nothing more off putting to potential tenants than a house which isn’t clean or full of a previous tenant’s belongings.
If they are able to see it is fresh and clean when they view it then they’ll have a much more positive first impression. Similarly, if it is empty then it’s a lot easier for them to see where their own belongings can fit in!
And price the property right. If might be tempting to try and ask for little more but even if you then drop the price potential viewers can be wary, perceiving something’s
wrong because it hasn’t been snapped up by anyone else!
Finally be realistic about tenants. It’s a nerve-wracking to trust someone else with your property. However, the more restrictions you put on the type of tenants, the longer it will take to find people who suit. Things to be mindful of, are saying no children in a three bedroom house!
It’s gearing up to be a busy year in 2021 for the rental market.
With everyone working from home there’s been a big surge of tenants moving after finding their current property no longer suits their needs. For similar reraosns the South West has suddenly become an even more desirable place to live.
It’ll be interesting to see if this results in a shortage of property or whether the buy-to-let market will also surge. Research has shown that buy-to-lets sales are on the rise but we’re not sure if this will meet the demand.
In short, if you’re looking to invest in a buy-to-let then now is the time!