Traditionally, the winter months tend to be a quiet time for the property market, as many focus their attention on the holiday season. However, the property market is red hot and showing no signs of slowing, so this year things are likely to be different.
More people than ever are looking to get a sale agreed in the months before Christmas, ensuring they have ample time to complete and exchange on their property before the end of the stamp duty holiday deadline in March.
And while there’s no single solution to guarantee a sale on your home, two of the biggest factors will always be price and presentation. The key is making sure your property stands out, either in person or online — and putting in some preparation can make a huge difference.
Sam Mitchell, CEO of online estate agent Strike, shares his top tips on how to boost your chances of securing a sale this winter:
1: Maximise your online presence
Do some due diligence and consider your options on how to sell over the winter months. By choosing an online estate agent like Strike, your house could be on the market within hours and it will be listed and visible on the major property portals without any delays.
During the colder and shorter winter days, people might be more hesitant to view lots of properties. So, first impressions online (including great photography) couldn’t be more important – online agents are experts in how to make your listing stand out.
If you choose to sell via an online estate agent, you will also have access to online support agents throughout the festive period for any questions or viewings you want to organise. Perhaps most importantly, it can also save you thousands of pounds. And that money can go a long way around the holidays.
2: Price realistically
Price is usually the single biggest factor in how quickly a home sells. Do some research and get ahead of the market by pricing competitively. An overly high price can put buyers off, but a competitive price can end up in offers above the asking price — and even biddings wars in a hot market.
If your property has been on the market for a while and you’re determined to sell before Christmas, you might want to consider lowering the price slightly. When you change the price of an online listing, an email gets sent to all potential buyers on the portals — a perfect way to capture people’s attention.
Another thing to consider is making sure you are priced at the top of the Rightmove price bands, that way you appear at the top of people’s searches.
Alternatively, you could also refresh your listing by simply re-ordering the images of your house to help it appear as a new listing.
3: Be the ultimate host
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Go above and beyond for viewings by putting the heating on or lighting the fire to make sure your home is as warm and cosy as possible, from the moment your visitors walk in from the winter cold.
If possible, have a place near the entrance to store any coats, hats, scarves or boots to avoid your visitors walking around for the viewing in damp clothes or muddy shoes.
Remember that potential buyers will be interested in hearing from you, too. That’s true any time of year, but if you’re conducting the viewing yourself make the most of it. Be sure to share why you love living there and what makes your house a home.
If you can’t be at the viewing due to Covid restrictions, or if the buyer has instead opted for a virtual viewing, the same advice still applies. Ensure the virtual tour shows your property off in its best light, and maybe even offer a phone call to discuss anything that might help get the sale over the line.
4: Dress your house for the occasion
If you’re organising viewings in the lead up to Christmas, put the effort into dressing your home for the festive season — especially for the first room the viewers will walk into.
For example, throw some blankets and cushions on the couches and light a few scented candles around the house. Fairy lights are also great at making your home look cosy and Christmassy. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can still use some warm furnishings and candles to make your home feel welcoming.
Ideally, focus most of your attention on the first room viewers will see. You want this room de-cluttered, smelling fresh, and giving the viewer a bit of a ‘wow’ factor.
5: Don't neglect your garden in winter
Kerb appeal is one of the key selling points for potential house buyers, as their minds can be made up in a matter of seconds. Your house should always look cared for, but it’s easy to neglect the garden in winter.
Simple tasks like clearing leaves from the driveway, removing any weeds, storing away any patio furniture, and making sure all of the outside lighting is working can make a real difference — and make your home seem more welcoming in winter.
6: Get your paperwork in order
Finally… if you’re hoping for a quick sale over the festive period, make sure you’re on top of your personal admin by sitting down and organising your paperwork before Christmas comes around.
You can avoid a last-minute flurry by being prepared with a folder that has all the documents you could need.
That might be mortgage documents, as well as other important files like your energy performance certificate, planning permission documents, gas safety inspection certifications and proof of boiler servicing certificate, etc.
Once your property is listed, it’s important to stay in regular contact with your estate agent to check not just how many viewings you’ve had but what feedback buyers are giving. This can help you prioritise any renovations or minor changes that could be a quick fix to selling. A good estate agent will keep you in the loop and guide you throughout.