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  • Can I move during lockdown? Read latest advice

Should I sell my house now?

Traditionally, the return from the summer holidays and back to school coincides with people putting their homes on the market, hoping to sell before Christmas. But with a global pandemic and a UK recession, is this really the time to be moving house?

should i sell my house now

In some instances, the decision to sell is made for you. For example, if you need to move after a divorce, pay off debts, or move because of work or family commitments.

But what if you’re keen to move area post lockdown, on the hunt for a home office and a garden? Or have reached a point where you need to downsize or step-up. Should you take the plunge now or wait? Let’s look at the arguments.

Coronavirus concerns

When the housing market re-opened after lockdown, the government called on all parties to “be prepared to delay moves, for example if someone becomes ill with coronavirus during the moving process or has to self-isolate.”

It also warned “It may also become necessary to pause all home moves for a short period of time to manage the spread of the coronavirus”.

But over the past few months, the industry has established a new normal. Professionals from surveyors to estate agents have responded by adapting what they do to minimise risks and keep the market moving.

Preliminary viewings can now be conducted online, with socially-distanced viewings in person. Conveyancing can be carried out online. Removals firms have introduced new safety measures.

When it comes to exchanging contracts, a “Covid Clause” has been devised which offers parties the ability to exchange contracts while ensuring they are not at fault and in breach of contract, with all of the associated costs, if they are unable to complete because of a defined ‘Coronavirus Event’ e.g. new government restrictions or a mortgage product being pulled.

So while moving during coronavirus could still be subject to delays, moves are happening. Residential housing transactions rose significantly in July to 70,170 according to HMRC data. This is a 14.5 per cent rise on June but 27.4 per cent down on July 2019’s number.

A recession

With the economy shrinking during lockdown, it didn’t take long for a formal recession to be announced, with accompanying announcements of business closures and job losses.

Because recessions lead to job and income losses, there are consequently less people looking to invest in something as expensive as a new home, meaning house prices generally fall during a recession.

But this isn’t yet the case. In fact, confidence amongst homebuyers appears high. Which brings us to the reasons you might want to sell your house now…

A mini-boom in activity

The lifting of house moving restrictions and people re-prioritising what they want from their homes, has led to the market experiencing a mini-boom.

Stamp duty cuts alongside an increased demand for certain homes post-lockdown, has driven confidence in the housing market to a four-year high.

Annual house price growth stood at 5.2 per cent at the end of August. Recent figures from Halifax are also showing house prices increasing, by 1.6 per cent from July to August.

And monthly mortgage approvals data from the Bank of England shows lenders approved 66,300 mortgage applications for home purchase in July, up from 39,900 in June. The figure is seven times higher than the trough of 9,300 in May.

A good time for sellers

With demand outstripping a modest supply of housing, the vast majority of newly listed homes for sale are being snapped up. This puts sellers in a strong position to negotiate and pick from the best buyers who are able to move quickly.

And things appear to be moving fast. Rightmove last week reported that more sellers are finding a buyer within a week of putting their home up for sale than at any time in the past ten years.

The time-limited stamp duty holiday is encouraging people to take the step and list their property and/or look for a new one. What is less clear is what will happen in the future. Pent up demand, a desire to move out of the cities post-lockdown and a time-limited stamp duty cut are fuelling demand at the moment. So if you’ve got your mind set on selling, it may be best to do so sooner rather than later.

What will you do? Tell us in the comments below

Leave a comment (6)* Required

  1. I completed on my house last week and am relieved – however I am now renting as I couldn’t find a suitable house to buy.
    Houses are generally selling fast in desirable areas. However it appears that agents are overestimating house prices because of the stamp duty holiday and buyers are bamboozled and feel they can afford higher prices – even if a house is deemed to be overpriced. In my experience some unscrupulous agents are also manipulating and bullying buyers – one agent refused to put forward my offer of £5000 less than the asking price because it wasn’t ‘fair’to the sellers. I am a cash buyer and supposedly in a ‘goid position’ however I don’t feel
    confident in the current dog eat dog agent led market.

    Comment by Ellie Allen — September 13, 2020 @ 1:50 pm

  2. I’ve had to put on hold my plans to sell or rent out my house and move to join my daughter in Australia. So worried about such a big move with the added complication of this pandemic. Sell now? Rent my house out? But what if the property market drops and I can’t sell in the future. My decision also includes retirement so no fall back plan financially. And rent or buy in Australia? And I’m on my own so no support with all the decisions help!

    Comment by Julie Friend — September 11, 2020 @ 7:06 pm

  3. We got caught in Lockdown between exchange and completion. It was a hassle to stop things and get everyone to agree, but we did. Finally moved in May- the removal firm was great and although we moved over 200 miles we felt safe at all times. Hope this offers some reassurance.

    Comment by Cathy — September 11, 2020 @ 2:12 pm

  4. We have had 3 apply to view since lockdown was lifted and 2 did not have their houses on the market so not allowed to view. Doesn’t seem like there is a shortage of property for sale here in Northumberland. Want rid now as we have moved out to downsize. Thinking of renting but did this before during last recession and it took us a year to repair the property so in limbo!

    Comment by Carol — September 11, 2020 @ 2:00 pm

  5. Decided to sell an existing 2 bedroom Barn conversion in February. However, got caught up with the lockdown amidst up grading an attached garage to incorporate a lovely large open plan kitchen and adding a 3rd bedroom. I have just listed online with Rightmove (Purple Bricks) two weeks ago and have had one local viewing. Hopefully this will improve. My concern is that it may just get caught up in another lockdown, because of the accepted constraints of limiting the exposure to “online” Should I consider a traditional Estate Agent. Location in West Sussex on the south coast and superb for anyone wishing to move away from Cities to Rural living.

    Comment by Vernon D’Costa — September 11, 2020 @ 1:41 pm

  6. I’ve been SSTC since March, but there is nothing for me to buy, and even on the rare occasion that a property does come onto the market that is suitable, there are now ten times as many buyers waiting, and then it becomes a ‘Best and Final Offers process, giving me little to no chance of being the successful bidder at this rate I am going to lose my buyer, and my buyer is going to lose theirs, because there is simply nothing left, and nothing becoming available for me to buy. Whereas this time last year there were a multitude of properties I would have bought, that were sitting there for months and that I would have had no difficulties in buying. It is getting scary quite frankly, because I need to move for health reasons.

    Comment by Karen — September 11, 2020 @ 1:10 pm

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