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Why Flats Aren’t Selling 2024 & What You Can Do

Once upon a time, flats were one of the most popular property types. First-time buyers often move into a flat, as it’s seen as the first step on the property ladder (historically, flats are less expensive than houses). But that’s starting to change, and flats aren’t selling as easily as they used to.

Whether you’re a first-time seller or an experienced property investor, understanding why flats aren’t selling and what you can do about it is crucial. So let’s dive into the factors that are shaping the current market.

Economic factors play a role

With sky-high interest rates, buying a property is harder than it’s ever been for first-time buyers, who are a key market for flats. Let’s take a look at how economic factors have led to a decrease in flat sales.

Interest rates

Interest rates have been on the rise in the UK, making mortgages more expensive for potential buyers. This has led to a decrease in demand, particularly for flats, as people are finding it more costly to borrow money. 

The Bank of England’s decisions to increase interest rates have been driven by various economic factors, including inflation control and stabilising the currency. For potential homeowners, this means higher monthly mortgage payments, which can be off-putting. First-time buyers are especially affected, with the increased costs putting homeownership out of reach for many.

Economic uncertainty

The economic uncertainty of 2023 played a part in consumer confidence. This economic situation has spilled into 2024. People are hesitant to invest in property when the future seems so unpredictable, and this has had a knock-on effect on the property market. 

Ongoing concerns about the global economy, political instability, and potential changes to tax laws and regulations all contribute to this uncertainty. Would-be buyers are more likely to hold off on making significant financial commitments like purchasing a flat. This reluctance to invest can lead to a sluggish market, with fewer buyers and sellers. Consequently, it has resulted in declining property values.

In summary, people don’t want to buy a flat now, when the prices might go down further in coming months, and certainly people don’t want to buy such a decreasing asset with the help of a high interest loan from the bank as this could land them in negative equity very quickly.

Problems with supply and demand

New housing developments can sometimes saturate the market with similar properties, leading to a decrease in the value of nearby flats. This influx of options often creates increased competition for buyers, making it more challenging to sell flats at a desirable price. Sellers may find themselves in a bidding war, often having to lower prices to attract interest.

On the other hand, location remains a key factor in property demand. Flats in sought-after areas, where housing stock is limited, tend to attract more buyers. The scarcity of available properties in prime locations can drive up prices and shorten the time on the market. If you’re selling a flat in such an area, you might find the process easier. But these areas are few and far between. In reality, flats are more popular in cities and close to amenities, but even then, it can be a struggle to sell in a depressed market. 

Recent market trends

Currently, we’re in a market where house prices are more likely to fall than rise. With flats generally being the cheapest residential property type, they’re often the first to feel the burden. Here’s how market trends can affect selling your flat.  

House price indices

Recent data shows a mixed picture for house prices. Some indices report a slight fall, while others remain relatively flat. This inconsistency can create confusion for both buyers and sellers.

Stamp duty holiday impact

The temporary stamp duty holiday drove up house prices up for a while, but the end of this incentive has seen a cooling in the market.

The COVID Affect

COVID restrictions meant people yearned for their own outside space.  This is a trend that has continued post-COVID. Many flats don’t have any significant outside space and this limits their appeal.  In addition, flexible working has become far more popular.  People moved out of the Cities to get more space for their money.  For the cost of a city flat, they could buy a small house, with garden space and home office outside the city  While many businesses are encouraging people back into the office full-time, flexible/hybrid working is still hugely popular and offers the motivation to buyers to live outside the city since a commute to the office just once or twice per week isn’t a big ask for most.

Mortgage market changes

Mortgage interest rates have sky-rocketed throughout 2022 and 2023, driven by increases in the BOE base rate. Just checkout this graph showing the increase. The base rate was 0.1% through much of 2020 and 2021. Now it’s over 5%! Remember the base rate is the rate at which your local bank borrows money from Bank of England. Your local bank then adds their mark-up to that rate and sells the mortgage to you. This means you’ll be paying a lot more than the base rate depending on the loan to value.

What can you do to sell your flat?

If you want to sell your flat, all is not lost. There are actions you can take to smooth the process and give yourself the best chance of achieving a good sale price.

Pricing Strategies

Setting a realistic and attractive price is important when selling a flat. Find a price that accurately reflects the value of your property and aligns with the current market conditions. An overpriced flat may deter potential buyers, while underpricing could result in a loss. A well-researched pricing strategy can strike the right balance, appealing to buyers and achieving your financial goals. Use property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla to get an idea of what similar flats in your area sell for. 

Sell it to the council

Selling your flat to the council is often a viable option. Many councils are keen to purchase properties privately, so they can expand their council housing stock for future use. However, funding, spending, and policies can vary significantly between different local authorities. 

Each council may have its own unique approach to acquiring private properties, and the process may differ depending on your location and the specific circumstances of your property. It’s not usually a straightforward practice. . 

Cash buyers

If speed is of the essence, you might explore options like cash house buyers. While this approach might result in a slightly lower selling price, achieving the full price may be challenging in the current market conditions anyway. Plus, some cash buyers, like Property Rescue, can complete the purchase much faster than traditional processes. Selling fast at a discount can be very advantageous in a falling housing market, vs trying to sell slowly for the full price, because as market prices keep dropping you’ll find it more and more difficulty to sell, which may lead you to selling at a significant discount anyway, after 6+ months.

Focus on presentation

Also, don’t underestimate the power of presentation. Addressing any issues like water damage, pest problems or unpleasant odours will significantly enhance the appeal of your flat. A well-maintained property not only attracts more viewers but can also lead to a quicker sale.

What to avoid when selling a flat

On the other hand, there are some things you should avoid when selling your flat. Some changes, while they may seem significant, are unlikely to make a substantial difference to potential buyers. These might include time-consuming and costly alterations such as overhauling the decoration, fixing minor HVAC, electrical, or plumbing issues or repairing cracks on the driveway or pavement

While it’s natural to want to present your flat in the best possible light, focusing on these areas might not be the best use of your resources. Most buyers aren’t overly concerned with these details, and investing in them may not enhance your ability to sell the flat.

How can I sell my flat fast in 2023?

Selling your flat quickly is more than achievable with Property Rescue. As specialists in fast property sales, we offer a straightforward and efficient process tailored to your needs. Whether facing financial difficulties, relocating or you’re just having trouble selling in the current market, our expert team can provide a no-obligation offer within 48 hours. 

With no hidden fees or lengthy chains, we handle all legal aspects to ensure a hassle-free experience. Our flexible approach means we can complete the sale in a timeframe that suits you, even within seven days if needed. Trust Property Rescue to provide a reliable and swift solution to selling your flat in today’s market.

We’ve also written this very comprehensive article that covers how to sell your flat fast via an estate agent.

Summary: flat selling

The property market might be slightly harder to navigate at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drum up interest in your flat. And remember, using Property Rescue means you can sell your flat faster and avoid the hassle that comes with traditional selling.  

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