While we find ourselves at a particularly unpredictable time for UK property investment in 2017, there are seasonal trends that remain true during any given year.
Like all industries, there are ebbs and flows to the way that the property market operates. Some months see buyers and potential tenants hunting aggressively for deals, competing and giving landlords and property sellers a reason to rub their hands together with glee. Other time periods see the property market calm down almost to a standstill, as annual priorities take hold and reduce the number of interested buyers and renters.
These trends will vary depending on the UK region, property and rental/buying circumstances in question, but recognising and predicting market shifts is a key method of planning your year in UK property investment. Using knowledge of the way that the property market is likely to alter as the year progresses can help investors define when to buy, when to sell, and when to rent out their properties to find the prices that serve them best.
It’s time to look closely at the UK’s typical property investment year, with the aim of understanding the rise and fall of property prices, and how your bottom line and future strategies are likely to respond – before it’s too late!
1. Christmas and January
The festive period and the painful financial hangover that often follows are typically the quietest times of the year in the property world, and see demand for properties of all kinds (both rented and bought) typically falling flat. People hate moving home in winter, they enjoy spending time with their families, and many are also likely to be nursing wounded bank accounts. This means that one of the lowest annual points in the UK property investment calendar falls around Yuletide and early new year.
Although it is true that the end of the year and the start of the year are bad times for renting out and selling properties, the price drop that generally occurs can create opportunities for snapping up good property deals from sellers desperate to shift a property or two. They are unlikely to have had much interest up until this point, so they may simultaneously have their properties priced lower and be more open to lower offers. Keep this in mind when you are looking at the properties available, and you may discover a profitable bargain.
2. February and March
February may be the best month to sell a property. Once the excitement (and the headache) of Christmas is out of the way, and once winter begins to thaw and people are looking forwards to what they hope the new year will bring them, buyers and potential tenants begin forming plans and making decisions about where they want to live next.
Rightmove data shows that year after year, by the end of February and the beginning of March, property and rental prices climb as demand grows. In February 2016, the asking prices soared to their highest point all year.
There still may be limited properties available to buy, but early to mid-spring almost guarantees potential buyers.
3. April, May and June
These months tend to be the busiest time for property investors. Prices are generally healthy and often grow substantially as the weather improves and the summer approaches, meaning that the property market may reach its peak around June.
There are more people looking for homes as late spring leads into summer, meaning more competition for your investment properties and a greater likelihood that tenants will pay the amount you are seeking. Prices climb and are more likely to be met, and these three months are likely to create a bustle of activity for buyers, sellers, letting agents and landlords alike.
4. July and August
The summer months tend to be the slowest time of the year, particularly for homes being rented and sold to families. Schools have broken up and the summer holidays are in full flow, and those without children are also likely to be looking to go on holiday around this time – and that includes your competitors.
The market trundles and prices see a downturn as people are distracted by the sun and are running up debts for their holidays, meaning that as a property investor you are likely to see some good summer buying opportunities. Consider stepping up your viewings rather than winding down during the summer, because the decelerating property market will force some sellers to lower their prices as an encouragement for buyers to spend their summer seasons sourcing a new home.
July and August are good times to get accelerated ‘banker’ status with estate agents, to help you pick up some of the cheap deals you wouldn’t normally have access to during other times of the year.
5. September and October
Prices tend to rise and the property market picks up pace again at the end of summer and through autumn, when focus returns to everyday life rather than the bright weather and the chance for holidays. This is also a strong time of the year for the market, with buyer activity pushing up prices as they search for a new home through October, with the aim of finding and settling into a place in which to live by Christmas.
Gardens often look their best throughout autumn, so this helps to make these months a prime time to have properties with attractive frontage and lawns available on the market or ready to be let out.
6. November and December
There is generally a gradual dip that leads towards the Christmas and New Year plummet, as the time slot available for buyers and renters to settle into a place ready for the festive period narrows and finally closes. This may be another time for savvy property investors to source and make offers on new properties, taking advantage of the slump and scoring a new addition to the portfolio ready for sale or rent by February.
As useful as knowing the usual month-by-month movements of the UK property investment market can be as a guide, they should not be considered enough to rely on. All the knowledge of annual trends concerning when is best to buy and sell and when is historically disastrous will never trump good old-fashioned research and a time-tested understanding of the market. It is also essential to recognise that no year is the same, so of course you must keep up to date with current trends and exceptions.
Put in your due diligence. Remember the methods, tips and tactics you have learned from the Progressive Property blog and any UK property investment meetups you have attended. Then apply the knowledge you may have picked up from any other entrepreneurial pursuits you have experienced to all UK property investments you make.
Observing trends is one thing, but you must seek to reduce risk and gain as much certainty as you can before buying or selling properties.