Tips to help you sell your home this Christmas

Tips to help you sell your home this Christmas


In this month's festive edition, we're on hand to offer our top tips to help you to sell your home this Christmas.

We also take a look at why smart-home technology is becoming so common in Britain, there's news on an extension of the popular Help to Buy scheme and a recent increase in wage growth could help renters looking to make a start on the property market.


Tips to help you sell your home this Christmas

 
There are some things that the British public simply cannot believe at this time of year; how cold it is, how dark it is and, above all, that it’s nearly Christmas. Nevertheless, Christmas is indeed upon us and if you are selling your home, or thinking of selling your home, you may be under the impression that it’s not the optimum time to bag a sale. Our top tips to sell your home at Christmas will show you that not only is it possible to sell your home during the festive season; it is a doddle.
Picture perfect
The average time that a buyer takes to look at a picture on a property advert is three seconds, so having the perfect image is essential in your quest to sell your home – especially at Christmas. When having your home photographed, it is important to think about the staging; ask yourself whether the clutter around your home has been put away, can you remove some of your personal items in order to create more space or give everything one last polish? Once you’ve ticked off those basics, think about the Christmas factor – do not include heavily decorated rooms in your photographs as they will detract from the space and may age your property if your home remains on the market into January.

Keep the pine in line
Of course, at this time of year the Christmas tree has taken its place in our living rooms and other communal spaces, but make sure that the tree isn’t dwarfing the space it is in. We can all get carried away with the festivities, but this may not be the year to get the 7-foot Nordic spruce of your dreams – in the same way that cramming a king-size bed in to a single room will make the room appear cramped, an over-sized tree will also make your room seem smaller than it is. Buyers like to imagine their own furniture in potential new homes, so allow them the space to do so.

Serious offers only
Although some may suggest that Christmas is a difficult time to attract buyers to your home, what the period does provide is serious buyers. You can make the most of the serious buyers in December by ensuring that you see each property viewing as the optimum chance to sell – making sure that your home is in pristine shape and you are welcome and positive about the property and the area. Potential buyers can glean an image of what it may be like to live in the area from their interactions with you as the homeowner, so ensure that you are up-to-date about local schools and solely positive when they ask you any questions. Similarly, being flexible may bag your buyer as an accommodating vendor, who allows for viewings at irregular hours, for example, could help clinch that crucial sale.

Preparation is key
Being organised could be the key to securing your Christmas sale. Make sure that your fixture and fittings list is put together, you have the legally required energy performance certificate and, if you have had work completed on the house, make sure you have the relevant consents. Solicitors can be the make-and-break in a sale scenario, with a slow solicitor frustrating both buyer and seller, so take recommendations from your estate agent and have an efficient solicitor all lined up, ready for a sale.

Being in a new home by the New Year can seem to be an impossible task, however by showing restraint with your festive decorations, and taking the appropriate steps to being prepared and organised you can certainly sell your home this Christmas and start your 2019 with the perfect gift – a new home.



Smart-home technology becoming commonplace in British properties

 
Smart homes have typically been seen as a luxury for those with money to burn, or, if you’re feeling particularly unkind, those of a less-active disposition. The ability to control your central heating with your smartphone or turn your house lights on and off using voice commands certainly has an element of usefulness, but popular opinion around the idea appeared to be that such technology wasn’t high on people’s lists of priorities when it came to managing their home.

Recent research by the Property Expert suggests that this isn’t the case, however; according to their findings, almost three-in-four homes have at least one connected smart automation device of some description already. Further research has advised that by 2023, this sort of technology should be commonplace across the country, with close to 1.5 million homes planning to fully automate their home in the next five years.

What’s the thinking behind this surge to make your home work for you? The data seems to suggest that it comes from a practical place, with 40% of those people with smart home technology confirming that their purchasing habits were based around a desire to make their lives easier. When you consider the practicalities of turning your heating on prior to your arrival at home during the cold winter months, or controlling your TV watching or music listening activities without having to get up from the sofa, perhaps it’s no wonder!

Beyond that, 31% profess their purchases to be down to a desire to keep up with the latest technology, with a further 18% citing a need to cut their energy bills with the installation of smart meters. At the other end of the scale, 3% simply wanted to keep up with their neighbours.

Currently, the most popular forms of in-home gadgetry are smart TVs, smart meters, home hubs such as Amazon Echo, heating and smart speakers. The landscape could change drastically by the time we hit 2023, of course; technology like smart fridges with the capacity to order food or sensors that monitor your movement and adjust the lighting in your home accordingly could become more prevalent as smart speakers and TVs become the norm.

There’s certainly an element of attraction to automation too; it can add value to any kind of home, be that purchased or rental property. With that in mind, should you be wondering of ways to increase the price of your house, flat or abode, you could do far worse than investigate ways to kit your domicile out with the last technology.



The Help to Buy scheme has been extended until 2023

 
The Government’s Help to Buy scheme has been extremely successful, with a duality in its accomplishments; firstly, in encouraging people to take a step on to the property ladder and secondly, in encouraging housebuilders to develop new homes in the knowledge that they have a government-backed safety net of potential buyers, just waiting to purchase their newly-built homes. With the news from the recent Budget that the scheme which is due to end in April 2021 will be extended, albeit in a new format, by two years prospective buyers should be buoyed by the government decision.

Help to Buy will have been in existence for a decade by the time the extended period finishes and is available to first-time buyers as well as current homeowners looking to trade up on the property ladder. Essentially, the scheme provides a government-backed loan to people who want to buy a new home but cannot afford the deposit. For developments participating in the scheme you only need a 5% deposit (ie. &10,000 for a home worth &200,000) and the government then lends 20% of the cost (topping up the deposit), with the remaining 75% consisting of a mortgage. The 20% loan from the government is also exempt from fees for the first five years of the scheme.

The extra two years of Help to Buy will be available to first-time buyers throughout the UK for houses worth up to a new regional price cap, rather than the current scheme’s cap of &600,000. As well as new regionalised limits for the equity loan, the scheme will solely be available to first-time buyers whereas currently, you do not have to be new to the property market in order to buy through the scheme – a fact which very few are aware of.

The scheme in its current guise has helped more than 300,000 people purchase a property, all of which have been new-build homes. It is this interaction between buyers and new-build homes which has helped to answer the ever-increasing demand for properties across the UK, and with the scheme forecast to end in 2023, there will surely be an impact upon the ready availability of new homes from this point onwards.

Housebuilders have had the luxury of a steady supply of buyers ready to purchase through Help to Buy who otherwise would not have been able to purchase their properties, and after 2023 there is the real possibility of a slowdown in new building projects due to the cessation of Help to Buy. Companies such as Barratt, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon have reaped the rewards of the scheme since its introduction in 2013 with around 40% to 50% of their sales from Help to Buy homes.

For five years, potential homebuyers have been able to purchase properties which would otherwise have been outside their price range – and for first-time buyers, in particular, this has allowed a first foray into property ownership. The announcement of an extension to the length of this scheme should therefore encourage potential buyers to take the plunge, and allow building firms to continue to reap the rewards of a particularly lucrative sector of the property market.



Wage growth increase could allow renters to purchase a home

 

Renting a home in Britain has become a necessity for many, in large part due to the difficulties that people face in getting started on the property ladder. Upfront deposits to secure property are at such a high level that many people are either forced to turn to their parents for financial aid or assistance, or are excluded from searching for a home of their own altogether.

 

However, there might be some good news for ‘Generation Rent’, as it’s become commonly known. Wage growth has finally overtaken the rate of rental growth across all areas of the country, according to the latest Landbay Rental Index. Given that your average UK tenant (excluding London) pays out about a third of their pre-tax monthly salary on rent, this is great news for those renters looking to save for that first big deposit.

 

There has been a stark decrease in the number of people buying their first home in their 20s during the last decade, from 37% to 27%, and the total percentage of British residents renting currently sits at around 20% as of 2017, up 10% from 20 years ago. With that in mind, this increase in wage growth could have an impact on the property market in terms of the number of renters who could become potential buyers.

 

The figures suggest that rental growth for every region of the country excluding the capital has increased by 1.25%, averaging out at an increase of &120 each year, but with monthly gross pay increasing by &768 per year, tenants could be better off by a tidy sum of &648.

 

This is dependent on where you currently reside, of course. Given that London rents can eat up as much as half of the average monthly wage, it’s no surprise that London, the South East, East and South West are the most costly areas of the country for proportion of wages spent on rent. Each of these regions sit above the 30% recommended threshold, with those in London renting a one-bedroom flat paying almost half of their average salary to their landlord.

 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll spend a far lower proportion of your wages on rent if you’re located in the North East, Yorkshire or North West, although the former has seen the lowest earnings growth of any British region.

 

“Improved affordability is welcome news for renters,” offered Landbay’s CEO, John Goodall. “For tenants looking to save up for a house, the prospect of having more money in their pocket each month will help them get one step closer to owning their own home. Wage growth is continuing to improve across the UK so the outlook for tenants can only get better. Brokers can use this data to help clients to look for opportunities across the UK where higher wage growth will boost demand for properties.”