In normal times, the autumn months are some of the best in which to sell a property, with people having more time on their hands as the kids return to school and the holidays are over, while many buyers want to be in their new home before winter and Christmas hit.
This hasn't changed because of the pandemic, it's just that the usual summertime lull didn't happen thanks to the near two-month freeze of the property market leading to a dramatic release of pent-up demand ever since, further boosted by the stamp duty holiday and positive buying conditions.
If anything, Covid-19 could enhance activity at this time of the year - as people have replaced a trip away over the summer with focusing on their house move instead. This means they are both motivated and prepared for the purchase. The kids have also returned to school (for the first time since March in the vast majority of cases), which should free up more time for buyers with children to search for their dream home.
At the same time, there is no rush to return to the old ways of commuting into an office for many, which means those who normally work in an office will have more time at their disposal. Time usually spent commuting, at events, on training days or attending business lunches and after-work drinks can instead be dedicated to browsing for homes, attending a virtual viewing, cementing their interest and then seeing a house in the flesh once they are sure it's right for them.
As mentioned, strong buying conditions are also sustaining demand. There is the stamp duty holiday to encourage second steppers and downsizers to act before March 31 2021, while the Help to Buy equity loan scheme is drawing to a close in April next year (before being remodelled to focus on first-time buyers only). Interest rates are also at historic lows of 0.1% to protect the economy, making borrowing highly favourable and ensuring that the mortgage market is very competitive.
Here, we outline what impact these factors are having on the market, why now is the time to act and what you can do to improve your chances of selling.
Since the property market reopened in mid-May - albeit with many new protocols and restrictions in place - there has been a remarkable recovery, with pent-up demand and new demand combining to produce a mini-boom. That mini-boom is turning into something more long-term, with no signs of this momentum slowing down.
While the last global crisis in 2008-9 led to the property market crashing, there has been no suggestion that this will happen again, with prices, demand and sales remaining remarkably stable.
In July, property portal Rightmove recorded more than £37 billion of property sales, the highest number ever agreed in a month since it began tracking the housing market more than a decade ago.
In August, this momentum continued, with the sales figures between August 5 and August 12 up by 60% compared to the same period last year as buyers replaced their summer holiday with a house move.
The latest monthly property index from the portal, which ran from July 12 to August 8, revealed that property sales increased year-on-year by 38% and were 20% up on the previous record set in March 2017, just before the mortgage interest tax relief changes began.
The huge growth inactivity is not only a result of the stamp duty holiday, Rightmove said, as sales agreed rose across all sectors of the market.
Sales were up 29% in the first-time buyer market, for example, where the majority already pay no stamp duty on their homes.
In the second stepper market - more boosted by the stamp duty holiday - there was a 38% rise, while at the top of the ladder there was a 59% increase in sales of larger homes.
Miles Shipside, housing market analyst and Rightmove director, said of the findings: "There have been many changes as a result of the unprecedented pandemic, and these include a rewriting of the previously predictable seasonal rulebook for housing market activity and prices."
He added: "Home movers are both marketing and buying more property than we have recorded in any previous month for over ten years, helping push prices to their highest ever level in seven regions."
This isn't just the release of existing pent-up demand due to the suspension of the housing market during lockdown, as there has been an added layer of additional demand due to people's changed housing priorities as a result of their experiences in the height of the pandemic.
Garden/outdoor space is now a must-have for many, while a home office has grown significantly in popularity, and more space, in general, is an increasingly vital selling point.
On the other hand, being close to reliable local transport links - so important for so many commuter buyers in the past - is now seen as less crucial as many people continue to work from home some or all of the time.
Shipside said this additional demand is helping to keep up the momentum of the unexpected mini-boom, which is 'now going longer and faster'.
A booming market and high demand aren't enough on their own to guarantee a smooth, successful sale. Your property will still need to be pleasing on the eye, be priced fairly and stand out from the crowd in a busy marketplace.
To do this, you need to ensure it is marketed in the right way - on the portals, social media and your agent's website - and that your property descriptions and photos are up to scratch.
Your home needs to be well-maintained, tidy and welcoming, while home staging can help you to show your property off in its best light on virtual viewings and in-person viewings, too.
For physical viewings, work closely with your agent to ensure you are following all the required guidelines and protocols. Put buyers' minds at ease by implementing all the necessary steps in place for a safe, Covid-friendly viewing experience.
Honing your sales strategy now, and working hard to push through a fast sale, will reduce the prospects of a transaction being halted or even postponed by the potential for further local or even national lockdowns as we approach winter.
Here at Target Location, our foundation was built on a very clear mission: to find the best fit for your property needs and offering a positive experience along the way.
We will do all we can to help you sell in these difficult times, offering advice and reassurance along the way. If you are looking to sell a home in the Eltham or wider South London area, get in touch with us today for more info.
For a free, instant valuation - and an idea of how much your home could be worth - click here.