For many people the new year is a time when plans are hatched for moving house. Property portals experience some of their highest levels of visitor traffic over the Christmas and New Year break, with millions flocking to websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove on Boxing Day alone.

Some home movers chose to put their plans on hold in the final months of 2023 but, as activity in the property market returns in the first weeks of the new year, buyers should be aware that waiting for the spring market could mean they miss some of the best buying opportunities of the year.

Ahead of the crowd

While the UK property market slowed in the second half of 2023, discreet off-market property transactions continued to be active, with sellers preferring to take a more private approach to marketing their homes to ‘test the water’ in advance of marketing openly. Agents across the country are reporting that a significant proportion of their sales are still taking place in this way: either selling pre-market or entirely off-market.

In prime locations there remains a shortage of homes available to buy meaning any exclusive opportunities are often quickly snapped up. Those who are searching in the earliest part of 2024 will be ahead of the crowd should something suitable become available.

The hidden market

The early months of the year are often some of the busiest in terms of ‘off-market’ activity, as discreet sellers explore whether there is a sales opportunity available to them without the need for a full-scale marketing campaign. These opportunities are not listed on portals or agents’ websites, meaning buyers must actively be in regular contact with selling agents to ensure their interests are registered and they stay at the forefront of agents’ minds.

In many cases off-market opportunities come from varying sources, whether it is an introduction from an architect or a wealth manager. It is a buying agent’s relationships with all manner of local industry professionals that often gains access to exclusive properties.

Buying with confidence in 2024

Despite the new year offering fresh opportunities, there are also fresh challenges for buyers wanting to move in 2024. The often-conflicting data in press coverage, a fast-moving mortgage market, and complex localised markets, can leave buyers confused and lacking confidence. A full understanding of what’s really going on in a local property market, together with the right connections, are a prerequisite to making a well-informed and successful property purchase this year.

If you are thinking of moving in 2024 and would like further information about how Garrington can provide guidance and assurance when finding the right property, please do get in touch without obligation.