This guide was last updated 8 November 2022
In our volatile property market, it can be difficult to tell if it’s the right time to buy a house.
If you’ve settled on the idea of buying a house within the next year, then first of all, congratulations! But now you’re probably wondering what specific factors could affect the deal you get for your new home. For example, can buying at a certain time of year make a difference to the price of a new home?
Like most markets, house prices are based largely on demand. The more demand there is, the more competition and the more price elasticity sellers can play with. Of course, if you are looking for a home during a time when there is less demand, there will be fewer options available too. Allow us to offer you our seasonal guide to buying a house, including the pros and cons!
Sellers aren’t usually keen on selling during winter because there’s a low level of demand for new houses. They believe that you will not be keen on buying a house due to the environment and financial challenges often associated with the season. Most households in the UK will spend a lot of their time gearing up for Christmas and no one really expects anyone else to be shopping for a house on top of finding the last available, must-have toy in the toy store for their kid with the puppy-dog eyes.
You can turn this to your advantage, however, because it’s likely that many houses on sale at this time have either been on sale for a while or are new to the market – either way, these sellers are going to be very eager to sell. This gives you more control over the bargaining and you could find yourself having an offer accepted for significantly less than asking price.
The disadvantages are, of course, that the aforementioned sellers are correct. It’s not the best time to go around looking for houses. You are sure to be busy with the holidays and getting out and about in the cold can kill your enthusiasm. Not to mention that everything tends to look less appealing in our grey, British winters.
Also, while you may be at an advantage when it comes to price negotiation, the demand for houses spikes in late winter and by February demand is peaking. Many sellers will want to put off selling until the New Year, since clever estate agents know that prospective buyers spend their free time in the holidays sifting through properties on their phone. But any owners that do want to sell before Christmas are likely to be willing to take an offer lower than asking.
This is a great time of year for families to look to buy a new house. The kids are off to school at last and Christmas is ages away. You’ve already seen the best of the weather and now you’re ready to get stuck into property hunting. Sadly, you’re not alone.
Demand for property spikes again around mid-September and savvy sellers will be more than aware of the leverage this gives them. On the plus side, you will get a great view of the house you’re thinking about buying – probably better than if you were looking during winter (in the cold and dark) where you’re likely to miss any imperfections.
It’s worth bearing in mind that by mid-to-late November, sellers will start getting more nervous. As mentioned above, sellers don’t want to be selling during winter and definitely not during Christmas. They may start considering lower offers in late autumn and it could be your opportunity to snatch up a purchase before winter sets in.
You’re not likely to want to go house hunting during the summer. It’s time for holidays, gardening and picnics. Sellers know this and will be looking for as many ways as possible to make their property look attractive to the few buyers there are.
As with winter, the lack of demand puts sellers at a disadvantage. If you’re willing to search after July, data suggests demand falls from its peak just before August. Which brings us to…
Spring is a favourite time to sell, and, for most looking for a property, a favourite time to buy. The blooming flowers are beautiful, offering a future reflection of your own gardening potential. Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs even said May is a great time to look around as the leaves are still not on the trees and you can see what’s at the bottom of your garden. Best of all, it’s by far the most popular time of year to sell houses, and the options available are the best they’ll be. If budget is no issue for you, then this is definitely the perfect time of year for you to buy.
That last sentence may well apply to some, but not to most. Naturally, the pros of choice are contended by the cons of competition. With buyers feeling motivated by the change in weather, the feeling of new beginnings and terror of their kids being home all summer, spring is a favourite time to buy. But with more competition comes less control over the price. It’s also one of the best times of year to show off your house, with gardens looking great, the amount of light increasing all the time and the temperature being warm enough to properly maintain the exterior.
Sellers will have the upper hand if you’re buying in spring and will be using all sorts of ‘staging’ techniques to entice sellers. Keep an eye out for these tricks that make a house look more appealing than it is (as well as these other things to look out for when viewing a property).
So there is no ‘best’ time to buy, just different times with pros and cons. We prefer to provide guides to help people make informed decisions based on their own personal circumstances. If price is most important to you, then look during off-peak times of year. However, if the perfect home is important and you want to see what potential that house could have, you will probably want the variety spring can offer.
On another note, keep an eye out for other undesirable aspects around the house, such as new roads, construction, or anything that ruins a view etc. You can consider these small factors ammunition for your bartering.
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