Time to arrange your Christmas presence
AS the nights draw in and the leaves fall from the trees, shelves in the shops fill with festive goodies and everywhere we look the focus seems to be on Christmas.
For those who are wanting to move home things take on a new sense of urgency as they start to wonder which particular chimney Santa will be using to make his entrance this year and whether the decorations will come out of their annual hibernation to be displayed in new surroundings.
Is it really possible to move into a new home in time for Christmas? The answer to that question is, technically, yes. There are just less than nine weeks to go until the big day and it is achievable to move into a new house within four to six weeks.
"At the end of the year people have a very determined resolve to get things done and to be in by Christmas," says Roger Punch who heads up the Plymouth office of Stags.
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"I think it has something to do with when people getting back from their holidays. They take a fresh look at their situation and they decide to bite the bullet and get on with things.
"Sometimes they have had their house on the market for a while and they have been holding out for a particular price but they realise that they have to revise their expectations if things are going to happen."
Of course everyone will be able to regale you with stories of nightmare scenarios of how long it took them to sell their house/find a new one/finalise the sale even when all the deals had been done. And making a decision on where you will be living for the foreseeable future is not something that should be rushed.
However, if you are desperate to make a fresh start and would like to move to a new home for Christmas there are a few things which you can do to help things along.
Primarily the advice from everyone seems to be behaving like a good boy scout and be prepared. Do your homework on everything from pricing to packing.
If you are still at the stage of not even putting your house on the market do thorough research on your estate agent. Find one who is prepared to offer you a realistic valuation on your property and market it vigorously.
It isn't going to sell quickly if nobody knows it is available and as it will be competing with lots of other homes for sale it needs to be presented in the most attractive way possible.
"There is still time if you want to be move in for Christmas, but there are a number of factors which will need to be achieved for this to happen," says Steve Allen, manager of the Plymstock office of Bradleys.
"Firstly, the price must be competitive. A seller must have complete understanding that it must stand out from the competition. And you must have a proactive agent that will push the property and get you viewings."
Sit down with your agent and have a good talk with them about what is going to help your property to sell. You are employing them for their expertise and experience – use it and allow them to be frank with you.
Their fresh eyes may pick up on aspects of your property which you have grown so used to you that you don't even notice them anymore but which could deter potential buyers.
Mr Punch emphasises the need to make your house as attractive as possible. "It is a buyers' market so they are being more selective and they will be looking for the signs that a property is well looked after," he said. "Make sure the garden is neat and tidy and uncluttered and, of course, the interior also. Tidy up and do all those jobs you always meant to get around to.
"Make sure the lighting is good – people like light and airy houses so make sure yours is bright and welcoming, especially on a gloomy day. And don't forget people will often be making their initial viewings in the dark at this time of the year. Do what is necessary and be prepared to adjust the expectation of your selling price. If you are buying and selling in the same market you will not lose out. It is vital to be realistic if you want to secure a sale."
There is plenty of advice on making your house as market friendly as possible, everything from books and TV programmes to countless articles on the internet. Get rid of the clutter and excess furniture, particularly if it makes rooms look smaller. If necessary rent a storage unit for a short time or pack things away in the loft. You will need to pack it up when you move anyway and it can be a therapeutic experience – maybe even a lucrative one of you manage to make some money from selling your unused belongings.
Make sure everything is in place legally – particularly if you are selling a flat or any other kind of leasehold property that can cause complications and delays. Again do your research on finding a solicitor who will handle your conveyancing as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
A spokesman for Which? recommends hiring solicitors offering fixed-price "no sale, no fee" conveyancing because it means the more efficient they are, the more likely they are to make a profit.
When it comes to buying a house the same advice is relevant but also make sure that you have your finance in place.
"Mortgages not being ready is still the single issue that holds up the sale of a property, "said Mr Punch.
"It could be that you got an offer from your mortgage provider when you first thought of buying or moving some months ago but that is no longer available."
You will also need to research the removal company – check their availability, prices and efficiency so that you are ready to move quickly.
And finally, according to Steve Allen, you will probably need an element of luck - hopefully enough to make it possible for you to be decking new halls with boughs of holly this Christmas.