A YORK estate agent is advising house sellers there is more to be exchanged than presents over the Christmas period.

While spring is traditionally the time for shoots of life in the property market, homeowners could be missing a trick by ignoring festive opportunities, agents claim.

Property consultants Carter Jonas says winter, in particular the Christmas period, is the perfect time to sell up, when fewer properties are available and only the most committed buyers are viewing.

Ed Stoyle, head of York residential property sales at Carter Jonas, said it is a matter of quality over quantity.

He said: “I am regularly asked by homeowners when the best time of the year is to sell.

“The majority assume it’s the springtime, when gardens are beginning to show signs of life and the weather starts to improve, but the reality is that the best time to sell is when the market is quiet, and there is little competition.

“The winter months, and indeed the Christmas period, can be more productive and lucrative than people realise.

“During the winter, agents rest properties that failed to sell while few new ones appear, so homes marketed at this time will naturally enjoy a much higher profile.

“An added bonus is that only the most discerning buyers are looking, and you do away with window-shoppers and time-wasters.”

Statistics show that year on year more people are also logging on to property websites over the Christmas period, with the Carter Jonas site registering almost 20,000 hits last year in the Christmas week alone.

Another trend that is witnessed every year by Carter Jonas over the winter months is a spike in vendors wanting to sell “off-market”. This approach can create a feeling of exclusivity and attract more interest, said Mr Stoyle. He said: “Selling off-market is a way to match potential buyers with houses. It also creates a certain buzz and means many houses never even come to open market.”