Is this winter a good time to buy property in north London?
PUBLISHED: 12:03 11 November 2014 | UPDATED: 15:20 14 November 2014
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Received wisdom may warn people not to try and buy or sell property in the winter months, but this year, advice suggests that the season could be an ideal time for home buyers.
Spreckley’s checklist for winter viewings
1. Choose your viewing time wisely Daylight hours are limited in winter and viewing a property in the dark is less than ideal
2. Wear warm clothes The weather shouldn’t put you off having a thorough look outside
3. Take a compass Without the sun, you’ll need to establish the property’s aspect. Also check for trees or structures that will obscure the sun at different times
4. Ask the agent to turn off all the lights This way you can check how much natural light enters the property
5. Find out how high the heating’s turned up This will indicate potential energy bills and may flag poor insulation
Citing the likelihood of a “benevolent” property market in the run up to the general election and the fact that the Mansion Tax is likely to be much less problematic than perceived, Bill Spreckley of Stacks Property Search says that the next few months is an excellent time for “serious” buyers.
“There’s plenty of research that can play into your hands at this time of year. How long has the property been on the market?
“If it came on in the spring, there’s a fair chance that the vendor’s beginning to feel desperate, and a mid-winter chilly offer could receive a warm reception. There’s no better time for an aggressive offer than the second week of December.
“While pre-Christmas is always a good time to negotiate a good deal, don’t be unreasonable about timing,” he warns.
“There’s little benefit to trying to exchange and complete in limited time before the festivities.”
Spreckley also extolls the benefits of getting a warts and all view of a property, which will usually be seen at its worst in the depths of winter.
“If you like it now, you’ll love it in May.” he says. “But in the meantime, your head will be firmly in charge and your heart won’t get a look in.”
James Wilkinson of Winkworth in Highgate agrees that the chances of a property’s appeal fading from winter to summer are slim.
He does note though, that the chances to find a property and do a deal are restricted at this time of year.
“If it’s a choice, few people would want to move at Christmas,” he says.
“Also at this time of year a lot of people will consider taking their property off the market if it hasn’t sold, so that it doesn’t look like they’ve been sitting there unsold for months and months.”
Wilkinson says that while activity may be experiencing seasonal cooling, there is still some demand from both buyers and sellers and Winkworth has had two properties added to their books in the past week.
Wilkinson also pinpoints the importance of the school year in property market cycles, particularly in areas like Highgate that are popular with families.
“If you’re thinking about getting kids into schools for the next term, you’re going to think about finding somewhere well before the school year starts, which means you’ll be looking several months ahead.
“It’s less of an issue for private schools, but even then, families will want to be in and settled before school starts if possible. But we do have two very popular primary schools in Highgate, St Joseph’s and St Michael’s, which are both Ofsted outstanding, so if you want to be in the catchment area for those, it’s an incentive to get into Highgate early enough to qualify.”
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