House prices haven’t risen in the Cotswolds over the past 18 months so there’s no point in waiting, advises Sam Butler of Butler Sherborn

What’s happened to prices in the Cotswolds recently?

‘I have seen no evidence of house prices in the Cotswolds rising over the past 18 months. The market has improved in that there is greater turnover (a larger number of transactions) but prices have not generally increased.  Buyer’s confidence is fragile and they are easily put off by aggressive prices or deadlines.

Should you sell in 2010?

‘I also see no clear advantage in adopting a ‘wait and see’ tactic; don’t hold back for an extra 10%, you are unlikely to get it.  However, if you put your house on the market in 2010 at a realistic price, you should find a buyer, as seller and buyer expectations are closer now than they have been for many years.’

‘I’d recommend the best time to market your house is either early in the New Year with a view to selling well before the General Election, or from mid to late May when election-fever calms.

What is key to a successful sale in this climate?

‘While timing is important, it is also essential to ensure you have everything in hand for a clean swift sale; buyers can be nervous so don’t give them a reason to pull out.  Preparation is everything.  Take a long critical look at your home; imagine you are viewing it for the first time from a buyer’s point of view.

‘First impressions count.  Do all those tidying jobs you’ve been putting off.  Outside, this means filling in the potholes in the drive, mending damaged fences and sorting out the garden so it is always presentable for viewings at short notice.  Inside, de-clutter and decorate if it needs it.

‘However, it is not just about good looks.  There’s the paperwork.  Have a log book for the house, so all the answers to any questions are instantly to hand.  Ensure all legal work is up to date, such as agreements, covenants and planning or listed building consents.  You’ll also want your buyer to feel they are in a good environment so if you have any unresolved issues with your neighbours, now is the time to settle matters.

When will prices recover?

‘If you’re in no hurry to move you could wait a couple of years, when I would expect to see the first significant property price increases.  However, for many, the need to move sooner rather than later is influenced by various factors, including the need to buy a bigger family house or a move to be nearer a good school.  Or perhaps the children have flown the nest and you want to downsize.

‘Whatever the reason, I would encourage anyone hoping to move in 2010 not to put their lives on hold, but to go ahead and put their house on the market.  After all, selling your property is like fly fishing; you’ll only catch a fish by having your fly on the water!’