The price of property coming to market drops by an average of 0.6% (-£2,044) compared to last month, the largest monthly fall since January’s -0.9%. While market activity remains robust, this pre-Christmas price lull is aiming to attract festively distracted buyers. With this slight softening of prices expected to last until Christmas, it offers a small window of opportunity for bargain hunters before the traditional Boxing Day buyer resurgence. The number of people browsing properties on Rightmove on Boxing Day last year was over 50% higher than the previous year. With this immediate post-Christmas Day activity having become the norm, many home-owners are already getting their homes spruced up, with their marketing launch carefully timed to coincide with this wave of new buyers.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data comments: “Despite the soaring property market and consequent shortage of choice of homes for sale for prospective buyers, new sellers have given buyers an early Christmas present by dropping their average asking prices by 0.6%. Sellers who come to market this close to the distractions of Christmas often have a pressing reason to sell, so naturally price more attractively to grab the attention of prospective buyers who may be otherwise occupied. We expect this downward price trend to be relatively short-lived, though sellers who are in a hurry will continue to need to attract buyers for most of December as well. As soon as Christmas Day is out of the way, there’s a boom in people searching for property on Boxing Day, perhaps with time available during the holiday season and a resolve to enjoy their next Christmas in new surroundings. That is likely to push prices higher again, and increase the competition from other buyers. Some of those additional buyers will also be new sellers who have held back from launching their property to market until this Boxing Day buyer boom, judging it to be a good time to sell and to move in 2022.”
December is traditionally the quietest month for buyer activity, making it a good time for serious buyers to grab a relative bargain. Many prospective buyers have seen their affordability sorely stretched in 2021 with the fast pace of rising prices, and while buyer choice of property for sale is limited at present, there will be sellers who are keen to sell and will negotiate accordingly. Budget-strapped buyers might also hope to benefit by securing their fixed-rate mortgage before the widely expected interest rate rise. This buying window will start to close with the traditional Boxing Day buyer surge, though it is likely that those buyers will have more fresh property choice. With estate agents aware of this boom in buyer numbers from Boxing Day onwards, many are advising prospective sellers to prepare their property now to be ready for marketing on the 26th December or as soon as possible thereafter. Rightmove website traffic is understandably quieter on Christmas Day itself, but it recovers quickly, almost doubling by Boxing Day, the effective start of the 2022 home buying season. Last year, there were over 51 million visits to Rightmove between Boxing Day and the first working day of the new year, so it is very sound logic for those thinking of selling to take advantage of that massive level of demand.
Agents report that home-owners are starting the process of getting their homes ready to sell after Christmas by finding out now how much their property could be worth. In October, Rightmove recorded a 14% increase in the number of requests by home-owners for valuations from estate agents, compared with the same period last year, a sign of building momentum.
Bannister says: “Sellers often wait until January to get their home on the market, but this year agents say that more people are trying to get a head-start on making 2022 their year to move by doing a lot of the prep before the New Year, including having their home ready to market during the Christmas period. Some savvy sellers are planning to get their photos taken before they put up their decorations, so that their property advert doesn’t look dated in January. Sellers can also agree with their agent a date when viewings can start in January if they’re worried about having time to tidy up after Christmas, which would give the agent time to generate interest in their home. Plus, if they’re able to secure a buyer for their home early in the New Year and they are looking to buy again, it puts them in a powerful position to secure their next property. In the current market, it’s a real advantage to be a “power buyer”, and have already sold your current home subject to contract when looking for somewhere to buy, putting you ahead when trying to buy another property, where there are other offers already on the table.”
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