Households looking to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday to buy or sell their home have been warned by estate agents to get moving within weeks.
Property sellers need to market their home by the end of September if they want to maximise their chances of getting the transaction in before the 31 March 2021 stamp duty deadline, according to NAEA Propertymark.
The estate agent body said that with the property market ‘thriving’ post-lockdown while many conveyancing services are running at Covid-reduced levels, the home-selling process from marketing to completion could take much longer than expected.
Mortgage applications and surveys are reportedly suffering delays amid backlogs and staffing issues.
And many buyers are now thought to be sitting on the sidelines, hoping for prices to moderate over the next few months, while still aiming to get in under the deadline to benefit from the stamp duty holiday.
A series of surveys over the summer have revealed a post-lockdown surge in the British housing market. NAEA Propertymark itself reported that an average of 13 sales per estate agent branch were agreed in July, the highest figure recorded since June 2007.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors this week said that virtually all parts of the UK are now seeing prices increase to some extent, with buyers facing a ‘sharp acceleration’ in prices up and down the country in August.
Rics added that, with the sharp gains coming at the same time as a mortgage crunch and job losses, many buyers could be squeezed out of the market.
Percentage difference between average house prices as of May and the average amount homeowners in each region estimated their property was worth.
– East Midlands 17.1%
– East of England 12.4%
– London minus 5.1%
– North East 39.4
– Northern Ireland 26.2%
– North West 44.1%
– Scotland 22.8%
– South East 15.6%
– South West 16.6%
– Wales 32.2%
– West Midlands 28.4%
– Yorkshire and the Humber 31.7%
But experts have also warned that the mini-boom could unravel once the true economic toll of the pandemic starts to bite later this year and job losses mount.
Halifax said recently that the spike in house price inflation is ‘highly unlikely’ to continue. The lender’s latest house price index revealed that the average property price increased by 5.2 per cent annually to reach a record £245,747 in the year to August.
According to one survey, since house prices started surging this summer, homeowners have begun to overestimate their property’s value.
Insurer Aviva’s survey of more than 2,300 homeowners found that, on average, people estimated the value of their home at £288,263. This is £52,590 higher than the average UK house price in May of £235,673 as recorded by the Office for National Statistics.
Homeowners in Northern regions appear to be most prone to overvaluing their homes with the North West and North East showing some of the biggest discrepancies (see box right).
Londoners were the only ones who typically appeared to under-estimate the value of their property.
Indeed, setting a realistic asking price was among five tips issued by NAEA Propertymark to expedite the home-selling process.
FIVE PROPERTY-SELLING TIPS
Chief executive of NAEA Propertymark Mark Hayward, says that sellers should ‘make sure everything is in order to help maximise your chances of completing ahead of 31st March’.
Show you are serious from the get-go
Read up on and adhering strictly to all social distancing measures. Rearrange any cluttered furniture to prevent viewers from needing to touch too much and ensure social distancing measures are followed in line with official advice. This includes vacating your property whilst viewings are taking place.
Photos and virtual viewings
When buyers are looking at properties online or within an agency, they make their minds up in seconds. That’s why having the very best photography of your home is vital. The right photos, especially with house hunters currently more apprehensive to book in a physical viewing, could mean higher offers and a quicker sale.
Realistic asking price
The temptation to overprice as you know buyers will be saving on stamp duty is bound to backfire and lose you valuable time on the market. The majority of house viewings happen in the first 20 to 30 days of the listing, with virtual viewings currently taking place even sooner. If you then decide to reduce your initial asking price, the number of views will drop after the initial buzz, and your listing risks being stigmatised.
Choosing an estate agent
When it comes to choosing an agent to sell your home, it helps to make a shortlist of possible agents. Once you have a shortlist of three or four possible agents, give them a call and ask them to provide a valuation for your property. This is a chance for you to check their communication skills, professionalism and knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and make sure to gather as much information as possible.
A Property Information Questionnaire needs to be completed before your house is ‘sale ready’. Alongside this, you will also need copies of all relevant paperwork, including:
• A copy of the lease (if the property is leasehold)
• Documentation related to the freehold (if it’s a freehold property)
• FENSA certificates for replacement windows
• Your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
• Relevant building restrictions
• Building regulation certificate when alterations have taken place
• A Gas Safety certificate for a new boiler
Propertymark has a Sales Protocol Toolkit (available from estate agents), which it says will save you money, reduce the length of time you wait to move, minimise the risk of the sale falling through and remove many of the problems that so often occur in a property sale.