Have you started thinking about some new year resolutions yet?
For many, making lifestyle changes in 2021 is right at the top of their list after a difficult 2020.
And those lifestyle changes could include buying or selling your home.
But where do you begin and how can you take advantage of what’s looking like a busy start to the new year in the UK property market?
Is January a good time to buy or sell a house?
January consistently sees an increase in housing market activity, but January 2021 is looking like it will be even busier than usual.
Rush to beat the stamp duty deadline
Since July, buyers in England, Wales and Scotland have been able to enjoy cuts to stamp duty.
In England, the stamp duty exemption threshold was raised from £125,000 to £500,000, meaning savings of up to £15,000 for some buyers.
The cuts apply to all buyers, although landlords and buyers of second homes will still be subject to a 3% additional home surcharge.
In Scotland, the Land & Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) threshold was increased from £145,000 to £250,000, while the Land Transaction Tax (LTT) exemption figure in Wales increased from £180,000 to £250,000.
However, the new rates are only in place until March 31, 2021, meaning buyers have just three months from January to complete their purchases and beat the deadline.
Buyers and sellers have a ‘fresh start’ mindset
Many buyers and sellers are looking to start 2021 with firm action and a ‘fresh start’ mindset after a tough year for everyone in 2020.
That means as well as the rush to beat the stamp duty deadline, buyers will be in a determined frame of mind and looking to make a change early in the year.
“It will be a busy start to 2021,” says Tim Bannister, of Rightmove.
“The new year is typically a time for resolutions for the year ahead and many will see it as an opportunity to draw a line under 2020, which may well include a fresh start in a new home for those who have not already acted.”
How to take advantage of the property market in January
The property market in January 2021 is going to be all about speed as buyers and sellers look to make lifestyle changes and beat the stamp duty deadline.
So, here are five things you should be doing to boost your chances of selling and finding a new dream home in the new year…
1. Start looking now and get your home on the market
Competition for great properties can be high in January. Rightmove, alone, had more than 150 million visits across January 2020 and those figures could well be dwarfed next month.
So, start looking for properties to view now, or try to get viewings pencilled in for the first few days of the new year.
Properties are taking a nationwide average of 52 days to secure a buyer so if you’re selling, you should try to get your home valued and on the market as soon as you can – both to capitalise on the January boom and give yourself time to find your dream property.
2. Price your property well and be realistic about what you pay
For many buyers looking for a fresh start in 2021, the property they buy will almost certainly be more important than the price they pay for it.
However, realistic asking prices will always win the day in January and properties priced in that way will have a strong chance of a quick sale.
On the other side of the coin, buyer demand is currently outstripping supply in many areas, so you should also be realistic about what you pay for your next property, as over-negotiating could open the door for someone else.
3. Make your property feel like a home
Spring and early summer tend to be traditionally the busiest times for property hunting in the UK.
It’s easy to see why – the nights are lighter, and the weather is improving.
But it’s also possible to take advantage of the ravages of winter if you’re selling your home in January.
Concentrate on making your property feel warm, homely and welcoming for buyers viewing in the new year.
4. Pick a proactive agent to sell your property
Christmas and the new year mean one thing – plenty of new tablets and smart phones as presents.
That, in turn, will mean more browsing on property portals like Rightmove which saw over 32 million page views on average a day in January 2020, and estate agent websites.
So, if you’re looking to get your property on the market to capture the attention of buyers early in 2021, make sure you use an agent with a solid track record of marketing homes on platforms like Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.
5. Be motivated to move
Buyer and seller motivation is generally at its highest in January as people look to make lifestyle changes.
That means if you want to sell your home and find a new one, you have to match those motivation levels.
With Brexit and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, feeling a little hesitant is perfectly understandable.
But if you’re in a good position financially and ready to move, it’s a great time to do so thanks to record low interest rates and the stamp duty ‘holiday’.
The Modern Method of Auction, meanwhile, could be an option for you if you’re looking to buy and beat the stamp duty deadline, as auctions have strict completion deadlines.
If you’re considering buying a property next summer, getting your timings right when selling your existing home is key. Our guide can help.
And if you’re aiming to buy for the first time, take a look at these 10 ways you can get that first foot on the property ladder.