How successfully you'll be able to sell your current property and trade up in 2012 depends very much on the local market and, in particular, whether you can find a buyer in a strong financial position. Even if you do find a buyer, finding a property to move to won't necessarily be easy. Because of uncertainty about the future of house prices and many homes having fallen in value over the past 5 years, people are tending to 'batten down the hatches' and stay where they are at the moment, only moving if they absolutely have to.
For sellers, it is vital to take good advice and price fairly, rather than 'test the market' at an optimistic price, as was the norm prior to the credit crunch. Many homeowners who bought in 2006 or 2007 and are now trying to sell, are marketing their properties at the same price or a little bit more than they bought the property for. Unfortunately, very few areas have recovered from the average 20% falls since 2007, and most are still 10% down. Added to that, buyers are much more savvy these days, with access to lots of sold property price data and other valuation tools - such as PropertyCheck from Experian, a service that not only provides up to date property valuations but also invaluable insights into the local neighbourhood and who your neighbours are likely to be, all of which help buyers access what a property is really worth. Any overvalued homes just won't sell.
On the plus side, trading up in a falling market will typically benefit you financially in the short-term. Selling a £150,000 property at a 10% discount would 'cost' you £15,000, but if you bought a £300,000 property, you could save £30,000, giving a net benefit of £15,000.
There are risks, though, and, as property prices aren't likely to rise year-on-year (bar some parts of London), you must consider these critical factors:-
What the individual, local markets are like for the type of property you're selling and buying
How long you are going to stay in the property
How safe your job is
What would happen if you became sick
Ideally, in a falling market you shouldn't stretch yourself too much financially. Over time, the property will probably grow in value, but this is likely to take a few years, unless it's in an area that's performing particularly well. In the short-term, though, prices may fall, and you need to ensure you can secure a mortgage at the right level with the equity you have. If the equity in the property were to fall from 20% to 10%, that could seriously limit your mortgage options and result in much higher monthly payments.
I am one of the UK's top property commentators and analysts, being regularly quoted in the national press and have appeared on BBC2, featured on BBC Radio 4, 5 Live, C4 Homes and local BBC radio stations.
I have been a consultant to the property sector for a number of years and have written a number of books, including four for Which? - Buy, Sell, Move House, Renting and Letting, Develop your Property and the Property Investment Handbook.
For answers to all your property questions, contact me at Designs on Property on 0845 838 1763 or visit my websites using the links below:-