DECEMBER UPDATE – Preparing for Winter Marketing, and what might this month bring?

Saturday 4th December 2021

“Of all the months of the year there is not a month one half so welcome to the young, or so full of happy associations, as the last month of the year.” 

Charles Dickens

Hello and welcome to the last Update of the 2021!  This is especially poignant to me as it almost exactly a year since my first Update after leaving High Street estate agency and taking the first fledgling steps in the freelance independent world.  

And what a year it has been! 

From what started as a single house which a client, for whom I have never-ending thanks, asked me to sell for him and his family last year, a rollercoaster of a year followed during which we have now agreed sales on over 50 properties.  

I say ‘we’ as, my husband Sam left his estate agency High Street job to join me, and we have the unerring support, and work under the umbrella of, Martin and Co, where Julian and his team offer us the most marvellous back-room support.

The loyalty of past clients who have brought us their properties to sell, as well as new clients, most of whom have been recommended to us, is heart-warming, and I will unashamedly admit to being occasionally overwhelmed and emotional when clients meet several agents to choose one to represent them in the market, and choose us.  We will never underestimate how much this means to us, and how grateful we are to them for their faith in us.  And their reviews and recommendations which follow, fill us full of ever more gratitude.  

So, all that said, what does the December market look like?  

There is little doubt that it has slowed down a little, possibly due to the fact that a significant number of buyers took full advantage of the, now finished, Stamp Duty incentives offered by the Chancellor to shore up the property market following the first lockdown.  The main window for this closed at the end of June, and the full window with reduced incentives closed at the end of September. Thus, a significant number of buyers and sellers who were planning to move this year did so by that time. 

However, Winchester remains one of the most sought after areas to move to in the UK, and demand will always outstrip supply.  There remain good numbers of buyers, keenly looking for property, and a reduced number of properties available, especially in the run up to Christmas, where many home owners are focussed on putting up decorations and getting the present shopping done. For many, the idea of also being on the market, and having viewers traipsing around their homes, is just too much at this time.  

However, if we are asked (as we often are), ‘When would be the best time to put our home on the market?’, our answer would resoundingly be ‘Now!’.  Where many home owners are holding back their homes to early next year, our reply would be to ask why you would put your house on the market when everyone is?   Our advice would be to consider marketing your home when nobody is!! Supply and demand would suggest that you are more likely to find a keen and focussed buyer for your home when there is possibly less choice for them to choose from.  Just a thought! 

To that end, we put a house on the market last week in Alresford, and had multiple offers within four days.  We had another in Hyde which we agreed in five days, and launched one yesterday, on which we have five viewings booked in for tomorrow.  

From what we have seen so far, buyers, even in December, remain focussed to find a property, (by the way, there is a distinct shortage of detached village properties from £1.2m – £1.8m, so please do let me know urgently if you are thinking of selling one, as we have numerous keen and proceedable buyers for such a property!).  If you can face having viewings, we are there to do them for you, and are confident of securing you a buyer within a short period of time.

However, supply and demand being what it is, this does not mean that prices are correspondingly escalating.  We have found that buyers are still price focussed, and houses need to be marketed at realistic and sensible prices. Sam and I meticulously research house prices when we are invited to value a property, and back up our advice with evidence (and a good amount of common sense alongside).  This approach has been, we believe, a significant reason why so many people have chosen us to market their home for us. Only this week, we went to see a wonderful house and gave our advice. Another market leader had been there earlier that day and suggested a figure £100,000 higher.  I am delighted that, only this morning, the client called to say she would like us to market their home for them.  We pride ourselves on honesty and integrity, and this is the backbone of what we do. 

We keep the numbers of our available properties low, and would not wish to be the market leader in our area.  This is not what we are about. We aim to bring to market a maximum of three or four properties a month, and totally immerse ourselves in them.  We would be just as happy with one or two. Having the most available properties is not our focus.  Honest and hardworking customer service is, which is what we are offering within our boutique style of operation.  We value them, attend the photography and help to stage a property as best we can, write and design the brochures ourselves, for which no two are identical. No ‘cut and paste’ paragraphs, and often completely different layouts, and numbers of pages, depending on the property we are selling.  We do each viewing ourselves and have never asked a client to do a viewing on their own property, and do not use part time staff to do viewings for us.  Once a sale is agreed, we manage the process through ourselves, liaising with the buyers, sellers, solicitors, surveyors, and the chain if there is one, to see it through to Exchange and Completion. 

We give specific advice to clients too.  This month, we had a client come to us whose ex-rental property had been on the market for eight months with an agent. During that time, not even the wintery grey front photograph had been changed on their marketing material.  It was now a vacant property, so we recommended having it professionally dressed, and high quality photography undertaken.  They took our advice. We put them in touch with a company to ‘dress’ it, following which we had the photography done.  The house which had been on the market for eight months with another agent, was then launched (at the same price), and had a sale agreed, with two asking price offers, within four days.  

The same happened with another property a few weeks ago. It had also been on with two previous agents over the past eighteen months or so.  We recommended the same approach, and it was sold on the first day of remarketing, at the asking price, and will be Exchanging Contracts on Monday next week.

It is rare that we would recommend this approach, but we do where we feel the owners will get the best result and highest offer as a consequence.  And it is working.

And our service does not stop there. We are there for our clients, 24/7 – and could not think of being otherwise. 

Only this week, we had four exchanges, each of which was fraught with personal issues for the buyers and sellers within. We were there for each of them, often speaking and giving reassurances several times a day throughout the process.  This is part and parcel of what we do, why we keep our numbers of properties low, and simply love what we do.

And the feedbacks we receive attest to this. Only yesterday, I received an email from a client, an extract of which read, 

“I’d like to reiterate how delighted we have been with your expert approach to our sale and I honestly can’t imagine selling a property with anyone else. You really have both been fantastic”. 

So, rounding back to the top, what does this month bring? We believe that the market will be quieter, not due to a shortage of appetite for buyers to buy, but of housing stock.  This is because so many people bought and sold during the Stamp Duty incentives.  If you are thinking of selling, then sooner rather than later would be good, as we foresee a significant number of properties coming onto the market in January so a) you could secure a buyer before there is more choice for them, and b) you would be a proceedable buyer for a property coming on.  

However, sooner again, for photography before the Christmas Trees go up in your home, which immediately ‘date’ your market listing if it doesn’t sell straight away, unless your agent is happy to return and have post-Christmas photography done to replace the festive ones. (By the way, we are more than happy for this!).

Have a wonderful Christmas, one and all, and thank you all so much for the kind words, support, encouragement so many have given us and, of course, the houses you have entrusted us to market for you!