Should I move now or do I wait?
Is it a good time to move now or should I delay my decision until 2016?
This is the question facing many potential movers at this time of the year as we approach the traditionally busy pre-Christmas market, but never before have they been bombarded with a seemingly endless array of market data and information.
Are prices set to rise or fall? Is it a market for buyers or sellers? Are interest rates moving up or will they remain at their current level? Is it a good time to apply for a mortgage?
Most estate agents that I deal with will admit that 2015 has been a pretty tough year for them, not due a shortage of buyers but a serious shortage of houses to sell, particularly in the medium and upper price ranges. Recent facts in the industry media certainly support this.
The National Association of Estate Agents report released in September reveals that, on average, the number of houses available per estate agent branch is now at its lowest level since January 2004. In most locations the supply is simply not enough to meet the demand from buyers.
It’s no surprise then, that in the same month, the Rightmove house price index shows that the average national price of property coming to the market has hit a new record, up 0.9% to £294,834. This is the highest price rise that Rightmove have seen in the month of September since 2002.
Oxfordshire remains one of the most expensive counties, with an average price of £437,042, up 5.9% on 2014.
Perhaps most telling of all is the fact that, whilst historically house owners moved home every seven years, recent data would suggest there could now be as long as 15-18 years between moves!
In simple terms, a lack of supply of suitable property, low levels of new build and historically cheap borrowing are factors currently working together to inevitably pushing up prices on property that is in demand. All of this information is potentially great news for any people selling their homes , so why are people still not coming to the market?
It would seem that whilst property in the middle and upper sectors of the market are showing the strongest increases, people in this sector are finding the choice of property available for their next move really restricted, and the fear of not finding the right property is holding them back from entering the market. Selling your property in the current market should not be a problem, nor should securing a mortgage if finance is required. However, actually finding your next home could be the main issue. Carefully planning the whole process is key.
Increasingly the successful movers in this sector look at each stage of the buying and selling process separately. When moving home there are probably 4 alternative approaches to consider.
First, sell your current property, complete the transaction, then rent a property for a period before purchasing your next property. This will put you in a very strong position when competing with other buyers who may not have sold.
Try to sell your current home to a purchaser who will wait for you to find your next home. This is not quite as strong as option 1 if you are competing with other buyers, but at least you will not be pushed out of your current home. This could be a realistic option if your current home is particularly sought after and your buyer is only looking for a particular location and is not bothered about timescale.
As with option 1, sell your current property and complete the transaction, but then agree to rent from your buyer until you have found somewhere to buy. This is not as unusual as it may sound, especially if your current home is in demand and your buyer is looking for a long term solution.
Look for a house first and then try to find a buyer. This most traditional approach is without doubt potentially the most stressful and frustrating, and in the current market most likely to lead to disappointment .
As a property finder, all my clients are always in a position to proceed immediately which does ensure that their offer is always given serious consideration as timescale and certainty are usually the key criteria sought by a vendor in the current market.
So is now a good time to move or not?
Unless you own a property that would achieve a higher price by being placed on the market at a certain time of year, for example one with beautiful gardens that may be at their best in spring, once the need or desire to move has been identified, there is, in my experience, never any need to delay.
There are buyers around all year, more than ever in the current market, and the shortage of property is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
The timing of the move however is not usually the critical issue; it is the planning of the move and your flexibility to put yourself into a better position to proceed with the purchase than other potential buyers that will give you a greater chance of success in securing the home of your dreams. There is also a great chance that by making the first step now you can not only ensure your home reaches the market early when most vendors are still holding back, you will also be ready to buy when the next batch of new properties come to the market.
As a chartered surveyor and property professional with over 30 years’ experience, Stephen Wolfenden understands the pitfalls of house purchase and the pressures of relocation with a new job. Time is often your most precious commodity when you’re looking for your next property, and in particular it’s often in short supply when you’re wanting to arrange a move from one region to another, or even from one country to another.
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