To many, the start of a new year means one thing: Taking action and changing your life.
With that in mind, you might be considering a new home early in 2021, or selling your existing property.
But where do you start and how can you take advantage of the busy January sales in the property world?
Is January a good time to buy or sell a house?
Housing market activity traditionally peaks in spring, but winter can also spark a surge in interest among buyers and sellers, too.
And January 2021 is looking like it will be even busier than usual.
Rush to beat the stamp duty deadline
The stamp duty threshold in England was raised from £125,000 to £500,000 in July, meaning buyers can save up to £15,000 in stamp duty.
However, the new rates are only in place until March 31, 2021, meaning buyers are facing a race against time to complete their purchases and beat the deadline.
Buyers and sellers have a ‘fresh start’ mindset
After a tough 2020, many buyers and sellers are looking to start 2021 with a fresh start in mind.
That could see a flurry of determined, motivated buyers enter the market in the new 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 January property market tends to be about speed as buyers and sellers look to make swift lifestyle changes in the new year.
Next year, however, speed is going to be even more important as buyers and sellers look to beat the stamp duty deadline.
January is a huge opportunity for both buyers and sellers, so here are some things you should be doing to give yourself the best chance of making a move…
1. Start looking now and get your home on the market
Late December and early January often sees a surge in property market interest.
Rightmove, alone, had more than 150 million visits across the whole of January 2020.
But with the stamp duty deadline looming, those figures could be exceeded in 2021.
If you’re motivated to move, start looking for properties to view now, or try to get viewings pencilled in for the first few days of the new year.
Sellers are currently taking, on average, 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 to get it in front of eager buyers over the Christmas period.
2. Price your property well and be realistic about what you pay
As lifestyle changes become more important in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, property hunters are more concerned with what they buy than what they pay.
However, realistic pricing will always stand you in good stead as a seller and properties priced in that way will have a strong chance of a quick sale.
Demand for property is currently outstripping supply in many areas, so you should also be realistic about what you pay for your next home, as trying to secure a bargain could open the door for someone else.
3. Make your property feel like a home
Winter can be a great time to sell your home to a motivated buyer.
But try to ensure your property is looking and feeling homely when it’s cold and wet outside.
4. Pick a proactive agent to sell your property
With many people off work during the Christmas period, attention often turns to browsing property portals and agent websites. In January 2020, Rightmove averaged more than 32 million page views a day.
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
If you’re selling and buying a new home in 2021, your motivation should match that of other buyers and sellers if you want to keep pace with them.
With Brexit and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, feeling a little hesitant, or nervous, 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’.
To stand an even better chance of completing your purchase before the stamp duty deadline, you could also consider buying through the Modern Method of Auction, where fixed completion deadlines are in place.
If you’re thinking of stepping on to the property ladder for the first time in 2021, take a look at our guide to buying in London.
And if you’re unsure what the new stamp duty rules mean for Londoners, we have all the answers right here.