Why win­ter could be the best time of year to buy and sell

Yorkshire Post - Property - - FRONT PAGE - Tim War­ing

IN six weeks time Christ­mas will be over and we will all be pre­par­ing for the New Year.

It may be a time for some to con­sider a new job, while oth­ers will won­der if we will have a re­peat of the win­ter weather of last year and, in­evitably, there will be those con­sid­er­ing whether 2014 is the year to move.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the run-up to Christ­mas is a qui­eter pe­riod for es­tate agents with the in­evitable drinks par­ties with other sea­soned prop­erty pro­fes­sion­als. There will be plenty of re­flect­ing on the past 12 months, while spec­u­lat­ing on what the forth­com­ing year might hold.

How­ever, this year is dif­fer­ent from the last few. There are still the drinks in­vi­ta­tions but few of the guests are in re­flec­tive mode. In­stead, we are all look­ing for­ward, see­ing signs of an im­prov­ing mar­ket, prop­erly priced houses that are sell­ing and buy­ers who are fi­nally ac­cept­ing it is worth pay­ing a good price for a good house.

The sea­sonal el­e­ment of our busi­ness has def­i­nitely changed. Yes, the quan­tity of buy­ers look­ing in the win­ter is lower than say late spring but in the win­ter the qual­ity of buyer is much, much stronger.

Houses do not look at their most pic­turesque at this time of year, the leaves are off the trees, there is no stripe on the lawn and the flag­stones might be slippy. The view might be hid­den in the fog on a damp mis­er­able morn­ing but if you think log­i­cally, surely it is a good time to buy?

You are see­ing a house bare, so ex­ter­nally you can see how close the neigh­bour is through the trees at the bot­tom of the gar­den. You know whether the gut­ters are leak­ing, what, if any­thing, is hid­den be­hind the creeper that looks so pretty in the sum­mer. In­ter­nally, the heat­ing will un­doubt­edly be turned up but you can tell whether the house has got a cosy feel or whether the well-painted doors and win­dows are ac­tu­ally rather draughty.

Not­with­stand­ing the sen­ti­ments in my last Prop­erty Post col­umn re­gard­ing the dan­gers of pre­judg­ing a prop­erty with the in­for­ma­tion avail­able online, the likes of Google Maps and Google Street View can be help­ful when mar­ket­ing a prop­erty in the win­ter months as they of­ten of­fer both ground and aerial im­ages of a prop­erty in full leaf. Own­ers of­ten also have a use­ful photo se­lec­tion them­selves “of the lovely gar­den”.

I am aware of a num­ber of house buy­ers who are ac­tively look­ing to buy and who are ap­ply­ing the afore­men­tioned ra­tio­nale, with a num­ber ex­press­ing frus­tra­tion that they can­not find the prop­erty they want and en­quir­ing if there is any­thing else we know of where own­ers may be tempted to sell this win­ter.

It there­fore seems a lit­tle per­verse that some own­ers, whilst minded to move, do not want to com­mence mar­ket­ing till the spring be­cause they feel this is when their prop­er­ties will present bet­ter and per­haps by in­fer­ence feel a bet­ter price will be ob­tained. Some feel there will be no­tice­able house price growth in the next three to six months. But if you can se­cure a good price now then why not take it?

If you are mov­ing on then you’ll be buy­ing in the same mar­ket­place.

If you wait un­til the spring in the hope of achiev­ing a bet­ter price, surely if there is to be price growth in York­shire in 2014, you will only pay more for your pur­chase. In other words there will be no gain.

As I pre­pare this piece, there is bril­liant blue sky and sun­shine in Har­ro­gate, leaves are dis­ap­pear­ing from the trees on The Stray and it is a beau­ti­ful late au­tumn day.

To my mind it’s an ideal time to buy the town­house I have just been to look at. The size, the num­ber of bed­rooms, its lo­ca­tion and all its at­tributes will be no dif­fer­ent in the spring.

In fact, I think I have al­ready found a po­ten­tial buyer.

Tim War­ing FRICS is a part­ner of Knight Frank and heads its es­tate agency team in York­shire.www.knight­frank.com/ har­ro­gate

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