Making the Decision to Sell

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When Is the Right Time to Sell

Timing the housing market to the moment when interest rates are low and buyer demand is high may seem ideal, but if everyone had the ability to see exactly when home values are at their peak, we’d all be millionaires.

The decision to sell your home should be based on a variety of factors that are both financial and emotional. While you should definitely pay attention to market conditions as part of your thought process—and those conditions will absolutely impact your home sale—you should always keep in mind that the choice to buy or sell a home is completely individual.

Reasons to Sell

Homeowners have a variety of reasons to sell their home at any given time. Some of the obvious reasons include an expanding family or a shrinking family that changes the amount of space you need; a job change or retirement to a different location; a local job change that impacts your commute; or a desire to move to a particular school district as your children get older.

In other cases, the reason to move can be purely financial: Your income has decreased, you’ve recently divorced and you need to live in a less costly home, or your income has significantly increased and you can now afford to live in a different neighborhood or a more expensive property.

How to Decide When to Put Your Home on the Market

Once you have made up your mind that you want to sell your home, you need to gather some information before you determine when to put it on the market.

First, find out your loan payoff amount so you have an accurate idea of what your sales proceeds will be after you’ve paid off all home loans and paid your closing costs, including the REALTOR®’s commissions.

Next, find out the recent sales price of comparable homes in your community. You will need to interview several REALTORS® and consult with them about current market conditions to estimate a listing price and how long it may take for your home to sell.

Many sellers opt to put their homes on the market in the spring because that’s when more buyers are looking, but you can choose to sell at any time of year. If your home attracts families and is in a sought-after school district, you are just as likely to get offers in the summer as in the spring because buyers want to settle in before school starts. On the other hand, if your home is located in a resort area or appeals to young professionals or empty-nesters, the school calendar is meaningless.

Prepare Your Home for Sale

An important element in determining when to list your home is its condition. You will need time to make repairs and improvements, to deep-clean your home, and to clear away many of your possessions.

If you have a large, disorganized home with overflowing closets and a garage with no space for a car, you may need weeks or months before you’re ready to put your home on the market.

It’s extremely important to recognize that today’s buyers have high expectations of your home’s condition, so don’t expect to be able to work on your home after it’s listed. Your home should be priced correctly and in prime condition on day one in order to sell quickly and for the best possible price.

The Four Signs You’re Ready

The decision to put your home on the market shouldn’t be made in haste, but it also can’t be dragged out.

Economic uncertainty and rising mortgage rates are causing potential home sellers to flip flop in their decision making, and being not committal to the process will hurt the selling price.

“It has become more commonplace for homeowners to put their homes on the market, but choose not to make the updates or repairs likely needed to more easily sell the home,” says Rob Pajon, vice president of product and marketing at real estate company USRES/RES.NET. “In some cases, people are still unsure of whether selling is the right decision and might be emotionally attached to the home, which makes investing in major changes difficult.”

As you may have surmised, there is really no set formula that will help you decide if YOU are ready to hang up the “for sale” sign in your front yard, but experts believe the four signs that hint it’s time sell are when:

You Have a Game Plan

Serious sellers typically have an idea of where their next home is going to be located.

“Having a game plan, at least generally, as to where your replacement home will be, greatly helps determine the future,” says Leslie Piper, consumer housing specialist for A game plan “is a motivating factor to some sellers.”

What’s more, having a general idea of the next neighborhood hinges on having an estimated listing price of how much home you can afford. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you sell your house and can’t afford the new one, or you can’t secure a mortgage because you don’t have a large enough down payment.

You’re No Longer Emotionally Attached to Home

“If you have any emotions about the home, you are really not ready to sell,” says Brendon DeSimone, Zillow’s real estate expert. “If you are still connected to it, you are not going to listen to your realtor and you are not going to do what it takes to sell.”

Sellers have to view their home as a product, no longer their home, he says.

You are Financially Ready to Make the Leap

Sellers ready to hit the market have usually perused real estate listing websites, checked out mortgage calculators and, in some cases, been pre-approved for a new mortgage.

“The first sign that homeowners are ready to sell is that they are financially ready,” says Pajon. “The next sign is that they evaluate and determine they are financially prepared for the costs associated with purchasing a new home: taking into account the down payment, closing costs and moving expenses.”

You are Ready to Make Changes

Sellers who are still emotionally attached to a home will likely resist major changes or upgrades, whether it’s a new paint color or kitchen upgrades, which could compromise asking price and a quick sale.

“Nowadays, sellers have to invest the time and energy to do a little renovating,” says DeSimone. “If you are not investing the time or energy to get it done then you really aren’t ready.”

To Sell or Not to Sell


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