Anne Ashworth -Spring sales

Anne Ashworth, the UK’s top property columnist, says the 2017 housing market is becalmed but believes the determined vendor will find a way to move house in a year where homeowners will feel the full Brexit effect.

How to live well

Health, wealth and happiness on our stretch of the Thames

Anne Ashworth

Property and Personal Finance Editor,

The Times

Did you resolve to sell your home in 2017 and are now wondering what strategy to use in a tricky market. This what you need to know before you contact estate agents.


The consensus is that the London housing market will remain becalmed for the rest of 2017, with some gurus expecting small price falls. However, it is forecast that the mood will lift next year and the consensus is that property values may be 20 per cent higher by 2021.


The current slowdown was probably inevitable, given the rapid pace of growth over the last decade: the average London home is worth close to 50 per cent more than in 2007. Stamp duty is also causing widespread relocation disinclination. The tax bill on a £4.5 million mansion in Barnes is £453,750 - which, as one parent commented is "the equivalent of 60 terms of school fees, if, like us you're paying £7,600 a term." It's little wonder that this parent, like so many other households, will be improving, rather than moving this year.


Expect to hear that more sellers are offering to pay their buyers' stamp duty, either, at the outset, to market a property, or as a negotiating tool in the discussions leading to a possible deal. You may think that, in such cases, that the price of the property has been set too high and that it would be simpler to opt for a lower figure, reflecting the less buoyant conditions in the market. Yet, it may be that some otherwise rational people are unable to contemplate that their home is worth less than it was a year ago, although the values of identical neighbouring dwellings have dropped. Whatever the mood of the market, the British relationship with property is really complicated.


At present, many house-hunters want either a rundown property, ripe for total renovation, or a very recently refurbished home that requires no work. You may feel terrifically proud of your house, having lavished money on a light-filled kitchen/dining room in the late Noughties but potential buyers may not be so impressed, considering your makeover to be dated and “doesn't look very now". As a result, they may not be willing to offer the full asking price. Try not to take this a reflection on your taste but as yet another example of how quickly domestic decor standards change nowadays. Blame all those images of lustrous kitchen islands on Instagram, not yourself.


And talking of Instagram, remember that if you do decide to sell, success may depend on persuading buyers that they will acquire not only a home, but also the perfect lifestyle. Ruthlessly declutter, clear gadgets from kitchen surfaces and bribe your children to tidy away their toys but leave well-chosen pictures and ornaments that suggest familial bliss.


The pictures of your home on the property portals, such as Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket, must show your residence at its best advantage. The most photogenic interiors are neutral (beige, grey, taupe) with a pop of bright colour, complying with the 80:20 rule that 80 per cent of your home serves as a backdrop to the other 20 per cent that show your familiarity with current trends, such as ochre, cobalt blue and tropic prints.


Note that it is possible that this process of beautification may cause you to fall once more in love with your home and decide to stay.

©RiverTribe Magazine 2017