The UK property market and seasonality

The UK property market and seasonality

Over the past few years, the UK property market has been somewhat unpredictable, with forecasts never quite sure where and when prices will rise and fall. A closer look, however, suggests that the sector is actually far more predictable than many might have thought. 

Rightmove recently published its infographic detailing the way the market changes throughout the year, looking at the past two decades, and it showed that there are some regular trends throughout the years that crop up time and again. 

These ups and downs that come around time after time make it easier to read the market, which can be strong knowledge for investors, buyers and sellers to have so they know how best to act in the market, be it to stick, sell or buy properties. 

We take a look at some of the most important ups and downs throughout the year, and discuss why this might be the case at each specific time of the year. 

Spring and summer

The first real high point of the year always takes place in spring and early summer, when the property market starts to shake off the cobwebs of the festive season and the New Year, and people start to formulate their plans moving forward. As more buyers start to come to market, demand rises and the price of property starts to climb. 

According to the Rightmove data, year after year, it's the end of February and the start of March where we start to see a slow climb in prices, but April, May and June where they really gain pace and start to grow substantially. While this is never the highest point of the year for the property sector, by the time July comes around, we're looking at what is year after year the second biggest peak in prices. 

In June 2013, the prices of property in the capital were 30 per cent lower than they were at their lowest in January. So why are more people buying at this time of year to push prices up? It's probably the most simple of the year to look at. The weather is just better, getting people who would have happily stayed at home throughout the colder period back out and seeking a new place to live. 

Late summer

While you might expect the health of the market to continue throughout the summer season as a whole, this is not the case according to the evidence shown by Rightmove, which indicates that the latter summer months actually consistently see a downturn in property prices. 

Although prices in London generally manage to withstand any fall at this time of year, it is the only region where this is true in the whole country, which experiences an average fall in property price of five per cent between July and September each year. 

So with the weather still good and the market having already performed well in the early summer, why is the latter part of the season performing so badly? Generally, it's because people have other things to concentrate on. It's the busiest period of the year for holidays, so many people are away through this warmer period. Meanwhile, parents are generally against uprooting the kids and moving them to a new area so close to, or into, the new school year. 

Before Christmas

As quickly as prices seem to wilt towards the start of autumn, though, the market will quickly pick up pace when the leaves begin to fall. In the lead up to Christmas, the Rightmove statistics show that the property market welcomes its strongest period of the year and prices consistently peak at this time. 

It's quite straightforward again at this time of the year - the festive period is one in which people want to be able to just concentrate on family and enjoying themselves, so anyone who wants to move will want to be in and settled before the Christmas holidays come around. It means that October sees a swell of new buyers coming to market, and this pushes prices higher. 

Rightmove's data shows that in 2012, this period saw nearly all of the UK regions welcoming growing prices, with only eight of the 54 not seeing prices hit year-long peaks. 

A new year

The biggest low point, perhaps understandably, always centres around Christmas and New Year. It makes sense, after all who wants to be buying homes when they could be sat around the fire with their family enjoying Christmas movies and mulled wine? This part of the year generally sees demand fall away dramatically, which means prices falling to their lowest all year. 

Last winter, the data shows that prices for properties in the UK rose in just nine regions, while they fell in the other 45, and this is a trend that we see year after year, showing just how significantly the falling demand affects the market throughout the Christmas and New Year period. 

The other side of New Year, people are generally feeling the hangover from the festive season, and the majority will be getting back to work and looking to make a good start where they are rather than moving.

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