Autumn Watch – Buying and Selling Your Property in October
As you settle into the autumn months, it may be tempting to postpone thoughts of buying or selling your property until the warmer and longer daylight hours of spring.
But hold on! As I’ll outline in this blog, there can be good reasons to consider moving home over the autumn and winter months.
The big picture
Let’s recognise some key facts before delving into the points for buying or selling in October. Mortgage borrowing rates have significantly risen in 2023, energy costs and food prices remain stubbornly high and it has been well documented that home insurers have raised (in some cases substantially) their premiums. What’s more, while the Registers for Scotland UK House Price: July 2023 shows that average property prices in areas like the City of Edinburgh and East Lothian continue to rise, the general trend is for less marked price increases and an overall reduction in property sales.
In addition, you may be waiting for a change (decrease) in the current mortgage percentage repayment rates. While in September the Bank of England surprised many by keeping its base rate at 5.25% (the first time since 2021 it hadn’t risen), some analysts still predict we could be looking at 5.75% or above on mortgage repayment rates into 2024, with a gradually lower interest rate in the years to come.
Consequently, affordability remains a key issue for potential home buyers. However, if you are planning to move and remain in that property for several years there may be little advantage in delaying seeking your new property.
Take note too if you are a potential first-time buyer who is currently renting. According to Homelet Rental Index, average monthly rents at the end of August 2023 were £977, up over 13% compared to a year ago. Consequently, despite the ongoing variations in the property market, it’s clear that if looking to the long term and you can afford the deposit and monthly remortgage payments, it may make more financial sense to buy your property instead of renting.
Buying and selling in the autumn
Buyer or seller, it’s perfectly feasible that with efficient planning – and a little bit of luck in identifying the right home – that you have sold and moved into your new home by Christmas and the start of a new year.
However, from the outset, it’s important I emphasise that every person’s financial circumstances will be different. While these are my own thoughts – informed by over 25 years as a professional and RICS certified chartered surveyor – you should carefully consider the financial costs and benefits if seriously planning to buy or sell in the coming weeks.
Obviously, many people plan to buy and sell in the warmer and brighter seasons of spring and summer. However, by opting to sell (or buy) in the shoulder autumn periods, it stands to reason that there will be less competition for your property. It should more readily ‘stand out from the crowd.’
As a seller, it’s your responsibility to ensure your property has a professional Home Report to show the prospective buyers. Keep in mind that this focuses on the structure and physical condition of your property. However, potential buyers will always note a fresh lick of paint and a tidy garden and they may be receptive to a property with a homely and welcoming feel.
Consequently, maximise the appeal of your property. Simple steps like the aroma of freshly brewed coffee or baking and consideration of lighting in rooms can help convey a homely ambiance.
It may seem obvious but don’t overlook the fact some people may wish to view it in the evening. If it’s dark, ensure your property is cosy and well-lit – nobody wishes to grope around in cold, dark rooms. Ideally, try to encourage visits during daylight hours to ensure prospective buyers can see your property at its best. This includes ensuring your photography for the marketing of your property is undertaken in daylight hours. Sunshine would be a bonus!
Finally, if you are keen to move quickly, you may need to be flexible with ‘move-in / move-out’ dates and accept a level of negotiation with the buyer. In the colder months, the buyer will also likely be more attuned to the warmth and energy requirements of a property. Consequently, don’t be surprised if there is a discussion about the energy efficiency of your home. TheEnergy Performance Certificate (EPC)will provide plenty of detail, including recommendations about how your boiler and general insulation can be further improved. If you are aware that there’s a need for significant upgrading of your heating system, be prepared for negotiation if you are not planning to invest in improvements before you move.
Naturally, as a buyer, you will be seeking your ideal home at the best price possible! However, just like the seller, you too may need to exercise a degree of flexibility, including when you can view a property and important factors like negotiation on price. However, if as a buyer or seller, you can agree on satisfactory terms quickly, you may well find that by this Christmas, you are relaxing under the Christmas tree in a new home.
Andrew MacKenzie is a qualified Chartered Surveyor with over 20 years’ experience within the Scottish Property market. He specialises in all types of residential valuations including Home Reports, Private Valuation reports and Development Appraisals.
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