• Mortgage Tree

Should I sell my house now?

Traditionally, January is one of the best times to put your home on the market. But with a global pandemic and UK wide lockdown, is this really the time to be moving house?



The housing market is still open despite the current lockdown. This means that people looking to move home can continue with planned moves and view new properties to move into in the future.

A good time for sellers

The number of properties on the market at the moment is lower than previous years. But buyer activity has continued to exceed the same period a year ago according to Rightmove. So if you do decide to sell now, you should get a lot of interest.

And with demand outstripping a modest supply of housing, the vast majority of newly listed homes for sale are being snapped up. This puts sellers in a strong position to negotiate and pick from the best buyers who are able to move quickly.

The fast-approaching stamp duty holiday deadline at the end of March is encouraging people to push forward their plans to buy a property in order to pocket a tax saving.

What is less clear is what will happen in the future. So if you’ve got your mind set on selling, it may be best to do so sooner rather than later.

What about the recession?

With the economy shrinking as a result of lockdowns and other restrictions, it didn’t take long for a formal recession to be announced last year.

Because recessions lead to job and income losses, they can result in less people looking to invest in something as expensive as a new home, meaning house prices generally fall during a recession.

But lockdown has also had the surprising consequence of increasing demand among homebuyers as people reassess their housing needs and preferences as a result of life in lockdown.

Rightmove reports that buyer demand remains high in January and forecasts robust 4% national average price growth in 2021 as housing priorities stay high on people’s life agendas, though price rises for newly marketed properties will be at a slower pace than last year.

January 2021 activity so far…

The 2020 housing market finished with transactions at a 13 year high and house prices up on average 7% on the previous year.

While this year may be a bumpy one for the housing market, we can expect to see a continued increase in demand for certain types of homes (there is higher demand for larger homes, rural properties and homes that can provide office and garden space).

The first three weeks of January 2021 have been busy as well. Buyers are moving quickly as they still hope to find a property and complete before the stamp duty tax-saving cut-off at the end of March.

Rightmove has recorded its busiest ever start to a new year, with visits to the site up 30% on the same time period in 2020.

People contacting estate agents about a property to buy is 11% higher than at the start of 2020.

Consumer confidence in the housing market will no doubt continue to grow as the vaccine effort continues to be successfully rolled out and facilitates a return to a more normal way of life later in the year.

Coronavirus concerns

The housing market remains open. You can buy, sell and move house. Property professionals from surveyors to estate agents have responded by adapting what they do to minimise risks of contracting and spreading the virus, while keeping the market moving.

Preliminary viewings can now be conducted online, with socially-distanced second viewings in person. Conveyancing can be carried out online. And removals firms have introduced new safety measures.

Nevertheless, moving home is currently subject to delays.


How to speed up your house sale

1. Find a local estate agent with a good track record

Sellers can use our estate agent tool to find the best local estate agent based on how quickly they sell, how often they achieve asking price, their success rate and more

2. Sellers should instruct a solicitor as soon as you list, and buyers as soon as your offer is accepted.

3. Opt for a legal team using a digital platform

They can complete transactions quicker. Digital Move claims cases can be completed up to 6 weeks quicker.

4. Sort your Energy Performance Certificate

Also known as an EPC this has to be included with a sale by law. It shows how energy efficient your new home is and if you moved in within the last 10 years, yours is still valid.

5. Get your paperwork together

If it’s a leasehold, find the lease. Locate certificates showing compliance with regulations of any works done from planning permissions to FENSA certificates for window replacements. Don’t forget valid guarantees a home buyer will want to see.

6. Get a mortgage agreement in principle before you make an offer on a property

Many lenders and brokers are experiencing COVID related delays and mortgage choices have significantly reduced, especially for first time buyers. Avoid wasting time later down the line and start the mortgage process now.

7. Home buyers insurance

If you are buying a home at the same time, in uncertain times like these, home buyer protection insurance covers buyers for some of their legal and survey costs as well as mortgage lending fees should your purchase fall through.

8. Build in time for local searches

Covid-19 and now lockdown restrictions mean many local authorities are struggling to supply their own searches and also to provide access to data for personal search companies.

If you are moving within an area you know well, then “no search indemnity insurance” will cover you if one or more searches do not come through before you need to exchange. But you’ll need to check your lender would be happy to lend on that basis.