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Despite a global pandemic and an ensuing recession, the housing market has been experiencing a mini-boom since the first lockdown in March. As people reevaluated their priorities after months spent at home with their families, estate agents reported a flurry of buyers that were eager to find homes to suit their new lifestyles and aspirations — a rural location, a garden, fast wi-fi, proximity to public green spaces and space for a home office are the most in-demand features.
The government’s stamp-duty holiday has added more impetus for people to buy sooner rather than later. With the deadline looming on March 31st 2021, demand for properties that fit the bill is fast outstripping supply. Despite rising house prices and a record number of house sales in recent months, transactions are taking much longer to reach completion — conveyancers and mortgage lenders simply cannot keep up with demand. So if you want to squeeze under the wire before the stamp-duty holiday deadline, how can you sell your house fast?
Stamp-Duty Holiday Facts
In a bid to keep the housing market moving during COVID-19 and the recession, the government introduced a temporary reduction in stamp duty land tax (SDLT) for residential properties sold between July 8th 2020 and March 31st 2021. SDLT, which is usually payable on properties costing more than £125,000, is currently being waived for purchases under £500,000 — there is a 3% higher rate for purchases of additional properties.
To qualify for the reduction in fees, your house sale must be completed before March 31st 2021, and herein lies the rub. According to data collected by Zoopla, there is currently a backlog of 420,000 buyers who are all vying to reach the final hurdle of completion before the March 31st deadline. If you want to take advantage of the reduced SDLT, you need to sell your house fast.
How to Sell Your House Fast
Finding the perfect buyer for your home is somewhat out of your control. But there are a few simple steps you can take to boost the chances of securing an offer without a long wait.
Tap into Buyer Trends
If your home has any of the new “must-have” features, such as a generous garden, space for a home office, fast wi-fi and a rural location near plenty of green space, make the most of this! Highlight top-selling features in your property advert, ask your estate agent (if you’re using one) to take photographs that show these features in their best light and make sure that whoever hosts viewings (online or in-person) emphasises the property’s full potential to prospective buyers.
Complete Minor Repairs and Home Improvements
If you need a quick house sale, major repairs and renovation work are not going to be an option. However, undertaking minor improvements can increase the chances of an interested buyer making an offer. Tidy up a scruffy garden, add a lick of paint to peeling window frames and mend that annoying dripping tap — the fewer things a buyer has to mentally add to their to-do list as they view your home, the more likely they are to choose your property over another one.
With England entering a second lockdown, any home seller who fails to offer online viewings is likely to lose out on potential buyers. Although the government has not prohibited house sales and in-person viewings as it did in the first lockdown, many people will be exercising extra caution when it comes to mixing with other households — especially those in vulnerable groups. Speak to your estate agent about going online to boost viewings and increase the chances of getting offers on your home.
Stage Your Home for Viewings
It’s surprising how much simple touches such as a vase of flowers in the lounge or a bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen can impact a potential buyer during viewings. Even online viewings will benefit from a little staging — a stylish throw on the sofa or a pretty candle on the dining table. According to research, more than half (56%) of buyers purchased a property because they fell in love with it. Emotions play a key role in the decision to make an offer. Staging your property will encourage a potential buyer to see your house as a home and help them to imagine living in your property.
Find a Cash Buyer
Since COVID landed on our shores in January this year, most lenders have withdrawn the low-deposit mortgages that first-time-buyers relied on. Mortgages for all borrowers are taking longer to secure and many lenders have imposed stricter lending criteria, which is causing delays and pushing potential buyers out of the market. A cash buyer has the funds ready to buy your home outright, which eradicates one potential cause of delay in your house sale. But how do you find a cash buyer? Waiting for one to just turn up could take time. Alternatively, consider using a house cash buying company. Do your research to identify a reputable company — find one that is approved by The Advisory — and you could complete the sale of your house in as little as seven days.
Any homeowner who wants to take advantage of the stamp-duty holiday must act fast. The current spike in house sales and the backlog caused by the freeze on property transactions during the first lockdown has put unprecedented pressure on the housing market. There have been calls to extend the holiday, but this cannot be guaranteed. By taking the steps suggested above, you can speed up the house-sale process and give yourself the best chance to complete the sale of your property before March 31st 2021.