Worries about energy prices, double-digit inflation, strikes, war, and a new government are all happening right now, and all of this is starting to undermine the confidence of sellers and buyers.
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The market is still strong, with Halifax reporting this month that house prices are 11.5% higher than a year ago, with a typical home now costing a record £294,260.
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But some would-be sellers aren’t convinced and think it’s best to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns.
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Abstinence: The housing market remains resilient, but some would-be sellers are unconvinced and think it’s best to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns.
Of course, the stamp duty cuts announced by Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng may change the minds of some.
But a study by savings website VoucherCodes shows that price increases have forced 11% of all potential buyers to delay their purchase for at least a year.
And a separate study by the National Building Society says that seven out of ten potential buyers put off their plans for at least a few months.
So if you want to sell and prevent your home from languishing on the market for months on end, it might be best to spend the next six months on taking pole position in the market in 2023.
Here are our ten top tips…
1. Take quality photos
Choose your real estate agent now and make sure they take photos of your home as soon as possible while the weather is still relatively good.
Then it will look its best no matter when you decide to list it – and you can start marketing in no time if the conditions are right.
2. Help your customer
“Create a package that includes everything you can to reassure buyers and reduce delays,” says Claire Kud, an agent for real estate agency Stacks Property Search.
“This should include, for example, your wood burner certificate, up-to-date electrical certificates, planning permits, building code signatures, boundary wall ownership information, and documents related to access and rights of way.”
3. Fix the mortgage deal
As interest rates rise, and commentators say they are likely to rise for another 18 months, securing a competitive multi-year, fixed-rate mortgage now makes sense in principle.
But many of these deals have months to run, so make sure you’re able to buy before the expiration date.
4. Increasing energy efficiency
This is a key issue for buyers, even after Liz Truss introduced a financial package to ease the burden of increasing energy costs.
“Double glazing, improved insulation, or a new boiler can be implemented in a matter of months and will likely increase both the appeal and the asking price of your home,” says Location, Location, Location star Phil Spencer.
“There are also solar panels, but they won’t add enough value to recoup their cost in the short term.”
5. Refresh your kitchen
The HomeOwners Alliance consumer group says the kitchen costs more per square foot than any other room in the home, so it’s worth making it look top notch.
Spend the fall and winter updating cabinets and tidying up walls and floors.
But don’t install a new kitchen – you won’t be able to recoup the cost if you sell it anytime soon, and a hitch with the installation could derail your plans.
6. Be competitive
Try not to focus too much on any one house price index, but look at the overall trend and be prepared to set a competitive asking price in the New Year.
Many real estate agents say that an asking price at the low end of your expectations will encourage competing buyers to bid against each other—good news for any seller.
And an over-ambitious price can cause a home to be stuck in the market, especially during a cost-of-living crisis.
7. Try a neutral restyling
Tidy up, sure, but do more. “If your interior looks a bit outdated in style, then redecorate with the latest trends,” says Alex Lyle, director of estate agency Antony Roberts in West London.
“But try not to be too open, as this may turn off some potential buyers. Similarly, if the carpets look a bit tired, consider replacing them or switching to hardwood floors.”
8. Decorate the garden
“Look how badly the garden has been affected by the drought,” says Josephine Ashby of John Bray Estates, a North Cornwall real estate agent.
“What is planted in autumn should flourish by spring. Outdoor space is important, so any effort you put into improving it will be rewarded.
Fresh gravel, trellis to hide an eyesore, showy pots and dusted furniture with nice cushions are all easy fixes.”
9. Remember the lights
“Replace your old halogens with LEDs,” says Emma Barks of Stacks Property Search. “They use 80% less energy to produce the same amount of light.
“Make changes ahead of time so you can showcase lower winter bills and also give you time to paint your ceilings as the hardware will almost certainly be a different size.”
10. Finish Old Projects
There is no excuse for an unfinished repair if you have six months to do it, but remember that calling a repairman can take longer than you think.
Maintenance firm HelpmeFix says it usually takes four weeks to find a bricklayer or roofer and at least a week to call a plumber for a routine boiler check.