Updated Jan 2022
Selling a house on the open market can be a frustrating and lengthy process, but exactly how long does it take to sell a house in the UK?
In 2021, the average time to sell a house soared to almost four months due to an increase in demand after the first COVID-induced lockdown ended. Conveyancers and mortgage lenders struggled to keep up with demand as buyers raced to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, leading to a backlog of transactions.
Some homeowners can be left waiting for much longer than the average time, such as if their property is in an unpopular location, needs extensive work or is an unusual building. What’s more, one in four house sales fail before completion, leaving the sellers to start the process all over again.
So what factors affect how quickly a house sells, and how can you speed up the process?
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Housing Market
As the country went into lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on the 16th of March 2020, many property professionals feared a devastating impact on the housing market. It is estimated that almost half a million buyers and renters were forced to put their plans for moving home on hold during the government’s freeze on new property sales and lets.
Since restrictions eased on the 13th of May 2020, the country has experienced a housing boom. The temporary stamp duty holiday on properties worth under £500,000 and changing homeowner needs post-lockdown — a desire for a garden, fast wi-fi, a home office and access to public green spaces — led to a buyer’s market, with much more demand for popular properties than there has been supply. The number of house sales repeatedly broke records in 2021, and despite the stamp duty ending on 30th of September, property prices ended on a high at the end of the year.
However, while the pandemic has led to faster sales of certain properties in desirable locations, house sale transactions have been taking much longer to complete. In July 2020, homes took 14% longer to sell than they did a year before. As mortgage providers tightened lending criteria — making it especially hard for first-time buyers — and businesses across every sector struggled to conduct “business as normal,” the time between offer acceptance and sale completion increased rapidly last year. This was partly due to record levels of buyer demand and partly to the backlog of transactions that accumulated during the housing market freeze in the first lockdown.
While no one predicts a housing market slump in 2022, sales and prices are expected to stabilise throughout the year. The frenzied buying of 2021 looks set to give way to pre-pandemic selling and buying levels. With the backlog of transactions cleared and more of a balance between the number of people wanting to sell and the number of potential buyers, it should reduce the time it takes to sell a house. Although homeowners looking to sell a problem property, such as one with dry rot or an ongoing property dispute, or a house in an unpopular location, will still have to be patient when selling on-market.
If you’re struggling to sell your home, contact us for a free, no-obligation cash offer. We have the funds to buy your property in as little as 7 days!
Reasons Your House Is Not Selling
Regardless of the impact of COVID-19, there may be multiple reasons why your house is not selling.
The Asking Price Is Too High
Overvaluing a property is the most common reason a house does not sell. Furthermore, if a home seller sets the asking price too high and subsequently reduces it, this can add months to the time it takes to sell. An overpriced property will attract fewer viewings, which means fewer selling chances.
Many people start their property search online. If an advert does not include images or the photographs used are of poor quality, there’s a good chance potential buyers will swipe on by. Equally, ads that lack sufficient detail or are not well written will fail to attract attention. Homeowners that choose not to erect a “for sale” board could also miss out on passing trade.
Properties are easier to sell in a “hot” (sellers’) market, and sale prices are typically higher than those achieved in a “cold” (buyers’) market. In the last 18 months, we have been experiencing a hot market with property sellers in the strongest position as buyers flock to compete for a limited housing supply. However, the market looks set to calm down this year and buyers and sellers may soon be operating on a more level playing field.
Ineffective Estate Agent
Home sellers have a wide range of estate agents to choose from on the high street and online. However, not all agents work to the same standards. If your agent is not sufficiently proactive, this will impact the number of viewings booked and, consequently, the time your property takes to sell.
Properties that are untidy, cluttered and uncared for will lack the necessary kerb appeal to attract offers. Both inside and out, poorly presented houses are off-putting to buyers and can give the impression that a lot of work is required to make the property habitable.
If your home also fails to appeal to the post-lockdown buyer — no garden, no space for a home office — you’ll need to put some extra effort into selling if you opt for the traditional route (on-market with an estate agent).
How to Sell Your House Quickly
Is your home taking a long time to sell? There are some steps you can take to increase the chances of a sale. If your property is not yet on the market, consider these factors before you start to advertise:
Set a Fair Asking Price
Obtain several valuations from a few estate agents. Don’t simply go with the highest offer — some agents are inclined to overvalue a property in a bid to get your business. Research the recent sale prices of similar properties, and look at those that have been on the market for a long time to gauge a realistic asking price.
Take the Time to Market the Property Well
Consider who is most likely to be interested in buying your home — be it families, young professionals or retired couples — and highlight the features and local amenities that will appeal to the target audience. Make sure your estate agent takes high-quality photographs that show the property in its best light. If you’re selling a home without an agent, consider hiring a professional photographer.
Time It Right
There is little you can do to control market heat. However, if properties are moving slowly and not attracting high prices, you might want to consider waiting until the market improves before advertising your home. As the market gradually returns to its pre-pandemic status, time may have run out for a quick on-market sale. If you need to sell your home fast, a house buying service such as the House Buyer Bureau can provide a guaranteed fast sale in any market. Once a firm offer has been made and accepted, the funds can be in your account in as little as seven days.
Choose an Estate Agent with Care
Ask friends and family for recommendations, and check out the types of property the agency sells. If you have an estate agent who doesn’t seem to be pulling their weight, consider switching to a different agency. There are plenty of options to choose from — online estate agents, high street agencies and even hybrid agents. Alternatively, manage the sale yourself. No rule says a seller must use an estate agent.
Declutter, Tidy and Complete Repairs
Take the time to complete minor repairs that make the property look untidy, such as broken door handles and peeling paint. Make sure the house is tidy and free of clutter for viewings. Spending a little time and money on home improvements that add value will pay off when potential buyers view your home.
Consider Selling to a House Buying Service
Selling to a cash buyer will speed up the sales process because you’ll avoid the problems and delays — or worse, failed sales — that often plague property chains. However, cash buyers may be few and far between if you choose an on-market sale.
Using a cash house buying service is the fastest way to sell a property. There are no estate agent fees to pay, and completion can occur in as little as a week after a firm offer is accepted. The sale price will be less than the property’s market value, but when you compare the price achieved through a traditional sale to that of a cash sale, the difference may be less than you think!
House Buyer Bureau is the UK’s favourite house buying service. We buy all types of property in any condition or location. If you want to sell your house fast, complete our 60-second cash enquiry form, and we’ll be in touch with a cash offer in principle. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]