We often get asked questions about when is the best time to move home in London, so we've put together a handy guide for you to see how the market reacts throughout the months of the year. Should you move when it's busy and there's more properties to choose from? Or is there too much competition in the busy periods? When should you start looking? Read on to get the answer to all your timing-related questions 😃
When should I start looking for my new home?
We usually recommend that you start searching in earnest about 4 weeks before you'd like to move. Properties can come onto the market 3 to 6 weeks before they are available, but if you think about it, most renters will need to give a month's notice, and then the agent will need to get the property advertised online. 4 weeks prior should be enough. We do recommend doing some research before that time, looking at areas, how prices have changed, and working out what you can realistically afford. You should probably allow around £300 per month for bills, to include:
- Council Tax
- Contents Insurance
For more information on this, why not check out our blog on the costs of moving to London! You should also ensure you've got all your documents to hand, so as not to slow down the referencing process. This can take anything from 24 hours to a week - but it depends on you and how organised you are.
Which is the best month to find a rental property?
So ultimately, it all depends on when is suitable for you. However, if you check out the descriptions next to the months below, you can start to get an idea of what you're up against, and if it might actually be worth waiting for a month to get a better deal! Check out this chart of the busiest times of year for finding a property, and discover the best time of year to rent a house or apartment in London.
The trend of the number of enquiries sent by renters, by month
In the freezing cold month of January, you'll find the rental market heating up slowly, towards one of the more busy times of year. January itself is not so busy for enquiries, but lots of properties will be added in this time in preparation for next month. You'll see a lot of homes coming onto the market, but if you get cracking early January, it will be much easier to get viewings booked, than in February. It seems like many renters are still recovering from the New Years celebrations, and not quite got themselves back into gear yet. Or maybe you're all tackling new year resolutions first... before it's time to move home!
February brings much more pace to the market, with more enquiries coming through, and seeing about 75% of the volume when compared to the peak of the market in August. You'll be competing more in February, so if at all possible, we'd suggest you wait until March when things chill out at bit, and you might be more likely to get a better deal. So if you new years resolutions have gone down the toilet by now, you're not alone!
As Winter comes to a close, March creeps in with some momentum from the February rush still hanging around. Slightly calmer than February, March sees a good volume of renter enquiries, but slightly fewer properties being added to the market. In March, it might take you a bit longer to find the perfect place, but it will be worth it because towards the end of the month you could definitely put in an offer slightly below the asking price.
Often a randomly sunny month in London, the heat seems to draw away the crowds from flocking to view every property on the market. Enquiries slow right now in April to around 57% when compared to the peak of the market in August. Definitely some deals to be had here. Definitely less likely to be standing out in the rain waiting for a viewing.
May is the beginning of the run up to the peak of the market. It all gets increasingly busy from here. If you're looking to move, I'd suggest getting a move on because things will only get more competitive from now, until the slow down in October. The weather can get a little worse in May, but brave the winds and the rain, so you can chill in your new pad in June! It will be worth it!
Yep, the sun is out, but that means more renters wanting to head out on a viewing. So, why does it get busy at this time? Well, it seems that the student market dictate a lot of property availability dates. Think about it, students moved in for September, but the lucky ones managed to negotiate a get-out at the end of June. This is especially prevalent for students who have moved here from overseas. Why would they want to spend their summer in London when they can head back to their parent's house by the beach! Expect lots of properties, and increasing demand in June.
July welcomes the next batch of students, who will be looking and enquiring about properties, but they're usually a bit too early. Keen to get into the big city, students drive up the demand in July, but don't tend to get all the way through to actually renting a place. You can expect to be competing for the agent's attention, but not actually competing for rentals - so if you're serious about renting a place... game on!
Ok so now the students are getting serious, they start their courses in September and have probably arranged who they're moving in with. They'll be mostly looking at properties with 2 or more beds, but don't be fooled into thinking no one is looking at the smaller places. August is the absolute peak of the market, and I'd always advise to try another month if you can. If you can't, make sure you're prepped with all the documents you need, your deposit ready, and can show the agent you're serious. It's not the time of the year to make an offer below the asking price!! If an agent sees an enquiry in August with hardly any details, they'll probably have to just ignore it for the more serious renters who look like they're ready to rent. Expect longer response times from agents, and don't put yourself at a disadvantage by only using the traditional portals at this time of year. Read more about how Movebubble compares to Rightmove and Zoopla here.
September definitely slows down, but there are still lots of properties to choose from. Remember we talked about students driving the market here? Well most of them will have had to sign 12 month tenancies, and so didn't manage to get out when their first year finished in June. I'd still recommend that you continue to be organised and have your documents and money ready, but things should start to feel a little less frantic now. Or better still... wait until October!
October marks the significant slow down in the market. It's like everyone knows that Christmas is coming and is slumping down to prepare to eat a lot, hide in warm cosy pubs and drink to the year that has been. The rental market mimics this feeling, with far fewer enquiries, and so less competition for you. Try making a cheeky offer in October, because you might just secure yourself a bargain!
It's cold outside, raining mostly, and Londoners are zooming home from work in the dark to cosy up with a bath and early night. No one wants to be out on viewings in the November evenings, although Saturdays will still be popular. Again, we're slowing down now, and you should definitely make an offer below the asking price. It's worth a shot!
Has everyone gone to sleep? I think so! We're all in hibernation for the winter! Well, not everyone. It is Christmas Party Season after all! Although that means not much time for finding a new home, so things are super quiet for agents at this time of year. Agents also shut their offices from Christmas Eve and don't re-open til the new year, so if you are moving, then aim to get things wrapped up as soon as possible so you're not left in limbo until January. December renters, we salute you! Great effort!
So, what to do next?
No matter what time of year you're looking at moving, some of the best advice we can give is to start researching early. You'll want to get an idea of the areas you're interested in living in, and the sorts of prices of properties in those areas. It will make it easier for you to spot a good deal in the future, and the more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to negotiate with the agent on the rental price you offer. In the Movebubble app, we offer handy tips about the average prices in the area, and how that property compares - just to get you started in your new property education!
Ready to get researching?