It is received wisdom that it is better to market a country house in spring or summer rather than in winter.
Although accepting that a gorgeous day with the garden in full bloom can add as much as 10% to the price of a house, Andrew Hay, head of Knight Frank’s country house department, argues that the market has changed in the past 10 years. Agents used to down tools in the winter and, along with their wealthy clients, disappear on holiday or to the hunting or shooting field. Vendors used to make more considered moves, and might take a couple of years from deciding to move to actually doing so. These days, agents stay at their desks and vendors can sell on a whim.
There is nothing worse, Andrew Hay concedes, than a snowy day spent showing cold purchasers around dreary houses that would gleam in the warm sunlight. A house without good central heating will struggle. Despite this, winter can be an opportunity for the seller. There are fewer houses on the market and a good, ‘fresh’ property will attract purchasers who are eager to buy and frustrated at the lack of choice.
Jonathan Harington, of buying agency Haringtons UK says that he sees as many wealthy clients with money to spend in the winter as in the summer. However, he believes that certain houses should only launch in the summer, when there are leaves on the trees to hide unsightly views and dampen road noise.
First impressions are important, and that means ensuring that the house is warm; roaring log fires will help create a cosy ambience. Good photographs of the gardens in summer will help compensate for the barren exterior. Both agents accept that winter can be difficult. Regardless of how inviting a property might be, if there is a fall of snow, potential purchasers will stay at home.