With Christmas now over, attention turns to the New Year and resolutions for 2015. Many people will resolve to stop smoking, be healthier or even relocate to a new home.
Those who are considering a move – and therefore selling or buying a house – will be asking themselves when is the best time to enter the property market. This can seem particularly daunting to people who are in the market for the first time and may lack in-depth knowledge of the real estate industry.
Opinions vary about the right time to buy or sell property. Availability and prices differ between countries, regions, cities and even within districts. In fact, no two real estate markets are the same. However, there are some guidelines that apply to property markets worldwide.
The first rule is not to rush into the market once you have decided to approach it. Instead, watch the market closely for some time. Have a look at fluctuations in price over recent years, month, and days. Try to gather as much information as possible and to forecast trends.
As a rule of thumb, the best time to buy a house is when interest rates are low. You don’t want to buy during a buyer’s market. When there are many offers, prices are likely to go up. Vice versa for selling a house. You don’t want to sell during a seller’s market, as competition also increases during this period.
During spring and autumn more people are on the market than the rest of the year. There are many reasons: the weather is getting better, properties look better, and people are in an overall good mood and are therefore more likely to buy. At Easter, there is often a property rush, with many people looking to move house during the school holidays.
You might think that this is the perfect time to enter the market, but it is actually the worst. Many first-time buyers burst on the market during this period, forcing prices up. Moreover, due to high demand in the market, negotiation becomes much more difficult. Even relocation services and moving companies charge more because they know that many people want to use the holidays to move.
In many countries in the northern hemisphere, most purchases are finalized from about October 15 to December 21. Despite what many people believe – and unlike with Easter – the Christmas holiday period can be a good time to buy or sell a property. In particular, the end of the year can be a very interesting time to buy a house, because agents and real estate firms want to meet their annual targets.
Sellers are also more likely to negotiate at this time because they know that there are not many people on the market. Most people are focused on Christmas. The house is getting decorated. Families are preparing for the feast and shopping for last minute presents. Everyone is in a good mood and they are also more likely to be generous – meaning prices could come down. The challenge is to find an agent who is willing to work during Christmas and also has the courage to get in touch with the owners in order to negotiate during the holidays.