Tue 03 Dec 2019
It used to be one of the great rules of property that Christmas was the worst time to put your property up for sale, with most people one or all of: visiting friends; spending time with family; catching some winter sun; or simply switching off.
Not until long after New Year – when the festive baubles were packed away and those jealousy-inducing winter tans were beginning to fade – did anyone even think about the idea of moving home. But that was then, and this is now.
Once property’s Twilight Zone, the period between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve is now one of the busiest times of year for online property searches. And one day in particular reigns supreme as the most active one of all: Boxing Day.
To go house hunting at Christmas in Ye Olden Days (i.e. anytime before the year 2000), you would’ve had to brave the cold and head out to estate agents for a hard-copy list of properties. Or you could stay at home in the warm and spend half a day phoning around all the agents in a particular town to register with them, and then wait for details to be sent to you, doubtless caught in the Christmas post backlog and likely to take a good week to get to you. So Christmas really was a terrible time for house hunting because of the obstacles in the way of finding out what was available, meaning hardly anything happened until about the third week in January, when things had got back to normal.
But this little thing called the Internet has changed all that. The Internet doesn't close for Christmas, or go on vacation, or have trouble getting to work. It doesn’t require you to leave the house – or even get dressed – to browse every single property that’s for sale. All you need is a couch to flop on and some time to kill: and what better season for that than Christmas?
The last few years have shown that us Brits do not lose interest in property one little bit over Christmas. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. What is now apparent is that we were merely thwarted by previous technology in carrying on with our national obsession. Today, property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla are winter destinations as popular as any ski resort or palm-fringed beach, with Rightmove’s Boxing Day audience soaring from average 4.5million visits every day, to a fairy-toppling 25million on Boxing Day in 2018.
Most people don’t put their home on the market at Christmas, because the accepted wisdom is that it’s better to wait until the middle of January. That means any properties going up for sale in the festive season will benefit from lower competition along with that five-fold increase in audience. And the advantages don’t end there either, because Rightmove gives new listings (those that are less than 14 days old) an extra bit of initial promotion. So it’s clear that, far from being the worst time to start marketing your home, Christmas – or Boxing Day to be precise – gives you a better chance than any other day of the year to reach more potential buyers against a background of fewer available homes.
As well as being a new British tradition for people spending Christmas at home in Surbiton, those on holiday or visiting family are also enthusiastic adopters. As long as there's a 4G signal or WiFi, you can search for property from your grandparents' house in Aberdeen; atop a black run in the Alps; or under a parasol in Zanzibar. Buyers no longer need to – or want to – return from holiday to search for their next home, with the very act of being away giving them the precious time they need for relaxed and thorough searches, rather than on a packed commute or between weekend socialising and domestic duties.
What you may have noticed from all of the above is that many people who might search and enquire about property over the Christmas period aren’t actually available for viewings, simply because of their physical location. And this might be good news for homeowners who may not want the hassle of viewings when they’ve got a full house, or might simply want some downtime themselves. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take the opportunity to garner interest and to plan for viewings in the new year: photos can be taken, floor plans drawn up, descriptions written and details prepared in early December, all ready to made live to take full advantage of the Boxing Day surge but without eating in to any of your own time off, or your festive spirit.
So while at first glance it might seem as close to madness to put your home on the market when you’re planning Christmas dinner for twenty or a swanky New Year's Eve do, we’d encourage you to think again. You can have the biggest possible plans, the busiest possible schedule and the wildest celebrations, but you can also allow the property portals to quietly work their magic, while you get on with creating yours.
If you are looking to move home in the new year but have been thinking it’s better to wait until January to put your property on the market, why not give our team a call to see how we can help you take advantage of this year’s biggest audience.