Paul Hilton: Sellers shouldn’t wait for springtime to list their homes

Paul Hilton: Sellers shouldn’t wait for springtime to list their homes

Paul Hilton

Paul Hilton explains why, even in a slightly slower market, homeowners shouldn’t hold off on selling their homes.

Homeowners who are considering moving on to a new property in 2024 are in a powerful position to influence the market, which shouldn’t be underestimated.

While the springtime is traditionally seen as a more favourable time to sell, it’s becoming apparent that choosing to list a property earlier in the year can have huge benefits for homeowners. It’s something that buyers and sellers are cottoning on to; ESPC saw higher levels of activity on year-on-year during the first days of 2024, hinting that buyers may be engaging with the market in higher numbers, perhaps compounded by the lack of rental properties available, pushing people to buy instead.

Stock levels have increased on annually by 27%, showing how much choice there is for buyers at every level. Despite this, according to our latest House Price Report, there is currently lots of competition in the market, even at a typically quieter time of the year. We can confidently assume that this will only increase as we get closer to the spring, and as we potentially begin to see lower interest rates and mortgage rates coming through. So, if you’re thinking about selling your home this year, you could get ahead of the competition by listing earlier in the season, and still enjoy the luxury of a broad array of properties to choose from for your next purchase.

In the current climate, and at this time of year, buyers tend to be more serious about making the right purchase. It might take slightly longer for buyers to make an offer, but as a seller, you can feel confident that the offers you receive have been carefully considered and that the buyer is very serious about your property.

There are clear signs that there are first-time buyers coming into the market in higher numbers too; our latest House Price Report figures show that October was the busiest month of 2023 for flat sales, so sellers should capitalise on the opportunity of having plenty of interested buyers ready and waiting in the market.

Over the past few months, our house price reports have been showing that the figure over Home Report valuation that buyers are paying is falling, and while that doesn’t appear to be good news for sellers, those who are selling to buy their next property should think about it in terms of getting the best deal for their next home. Waiting for springtime may mean that you attain a higher figure for your current home, if the market takes an uptick, but you might then also need to pay more for the property you are hoping to purchase.

In terms of marketing your property and the price you can expect to achieve, our data currently looks very positive for sellers. While there was a trend towards fixed-price properties towards the latter half of 2023 which might deter some sellers from acting, our recent data suggests that over 80% of sellers chose to market their home using the ‘offers over’ pricing model during October-December, and on average they achieved 7.2% above their property’s asking price at sale.

Also, the number of closing dates is currently falling, indicating that sellers are happy to accept a good offer rather than wait for competition to build – meaning that now is a great time to buy. As a buyer with a home to sell, your bid instantly becomes much more attractive if your current property is already under offer with a secure buyer.

And of course, the market is a cycle – there are only properties on the market if sellers choose to put them there. So, sellers need to show faith in the market to keep things moving. Much of the market is made up of homeowners looking to sell their current home and make an onward purchase, even if the headline focus is always tilted towards first-time buyers. While the market likely won’t reach the heights we saw post-Covid, it is becoming increasingly stable, and sellers primed to act quickly can make the most of that with their onward property purchase.

Paul Hilton is CEO of Scottish property portal ESPC

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