• Housing market seasonal fluctuations
  • How to find your ideal property
  • What 2016 might hold for the housing market

House sales seasonal fluctuations

Historically, the housing market is busier at different times of the year than others. Official figures from the HMRC show that January and February tend to be quiet months for completions: 77,750 sales completed in January 2015 and 78,540 in February 2015.

By comparison, summer months tend to be much busier: 114,550 sales completed in June 2015 and 120,300 in July.

These patterns are so entrenched in house price data that organisations which produce house price data “seasonally adjust” figures to concentrate on underlying trends. 

People tend to be less keen on going out house hunting in cold weather. But while the housing market is traditionally quiet in January, with relatively few completed sales, it can be a good time to start looking.

There tends to be even more choice in the spring when sellers traditionally flock to the market, according to buying agent Henry Pryor, who has made over 500 appearances on TV and radio as a property expert.

“If you want choice then I would wait until the weather improves: the Bank Holiday weekend over Easter is still the busiest weekend for new property coming to the market,” he says. “Other buyers tend not to have sold their homes so this is a great time for cash buyers to strike. If you can agree and complete a deal before the end of the summer, then you can be ready for the next school year in September.”

Pryor says the last quarter of the year can be a good time to go house hunting as estate agents want to avoid being disinstructed if their client has to re-market their property in the New Year.

Finding the right property

You might already have your ideal home in mind before you start your search, but it's important to do your research before looking at properties.

If you need a mortgage find out how much you need to save as a deposit and how much you can borrow. Ask yourself if you can comfortably afford the monthly repayments.

Property portals Zoopla and Rightmove are good websites to start house hunting. You can narrow down your search to properties in areas you like, with the required number of bedrooms and within your price limit.

In areas where the market is fast moving and competitive, it’s worth registering with some estate agents so they can call you when a suitable property comes on to the market.

What will the housing market do in 2016?

Property prices are difficult to predict and depend on which area you want to buy in. The latest figures from the Land Registry show that across England and Wales house prices went up by an average of 5.3% in the year to September 2015.

Prices in London, however, increased by 9.6% over the same period. The only region to see price falls was the North East where house prices were 0.3% down year-on-year. Next year could be tough for homebuyers if prices continue to rise. 

“Prices look set to continue to rise at the bottom of the market, fuelled by the government’s Help to Buy scheme and other housing initiatives,” says Pryor. “Those who already own a home can expect to be wealthier in 12 months’ time. Those who don’t will find it even harder.”

If prices are rising, it is always worth getting on the ladder sooner rather than later, according to Kate Faulkner, property analyst at independent property advice site www.propertychecklists.co.uk. For those who already own a property, she advises against getting in a chain if possible.

“There is definitely an advantage in selling, then renting if it’s possible. You can wait for the property you want and have cash ready to buy and stay in the rented property until the deal has gone through, moving in when suits,” she says.

If house prices follow 2015 trends and continue to rise in 2016, the best advice for buyers could be to start their property search now and snap up their dream home as soon as they can – and, when you have found your dream home, it’s worth looking into the right home insurance sooner rather than later.

If you’re looking to rent out your property, read our 2016 England and Wales Regional Rental Predictions Map for the trends in your area next year.

You can follow the property experts quoted in this article on Twitter for all of their top tips. Buying agent Henry Pryor @HenryPryor and property analyst Kate Faulkner @katefaulkner.