HOME FRONT with Jenny Knight
Traditional estate agent’s lore says that Christmas is a bad time to try to sell your house – but figures from Rightmove show that the site gets a record number of hits around this time of the year, with traffic increasing by an extraordinary 195%.
According to agents Roy Brooks: “The received wisdom has always been that Christmas is not the best time to buy and sell property because people put things on the back burner over the festive season. Nowadays, however, the opposite is true.
“With the advent of smartphones, tablets and property portals, many people see the Christmas break as the perfect time to browse for their dream property. Rather than dropping off, traffic and visits to major property portals such as Rightmove and OnTheMarket spike massively between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. “
Of course, cynics might say that too much family life over the festive season might well send people off with their tablets to price a nice peaceful one bedroom flat. However, the less cynical realise that Christmas is a time when families get together and imagine what the future could hold: a lovely country cottage, or even a spanking five-bedroom country home with a paddock and a pony, a new life away from rented accommodation into a two bedroom flat, or a downsizing move from inner London to a area offering better value like Colliers Wood or Streatham.
Whatever the dream and whatever the budget the rules for existing property owners to make the easiest move are the same. Ensure that your home is keenly priced, taking advice from local agents rather than going for the highest price every achieved in your street – plus five per cent.
“Keep your home decor neutral with no outlandish colour schemes, stripes or whirls. Remember kerb appeal and ensure that your front door is shiny and unblemished and that the hedge is cut back and the home looks welcoming.”
Tidy up the back garden and try to let in lots of light. Tricks include keeping the windows sparkling clean, tying curtains back, placing mirrors to reflect light and keeping colour schemes light. Finally make the kitchen look its best – but its probably best to stop short of launching on an expensive replacement because buyers always have their own tastes.
Nationally figures show that the over 60s are currently most active in the housing market – but in south London many agents say that it is first-time buyers and second-steppers who are making the most moves. Surveys show that first-time buyers are slightly less fussy about the area they move to compared to existing home owners.