How to Predict When to Sell Your Home

when to sell your home

Trying to predict when to sell your home involves a bit of crystal ball-gazing. Here are 4 things you should know to help determine when the time is right—or not—to sell.

1. No two markets are alike

Unlike 20 years ago, there’s no longer one ‘national’ real estate market or forecast. In fact, real estate activity can vary widely within the same county. One town can see record-breaking activity, while another 10 miles away has a glut of inventory. So if you want to buy or sell, dig deeper, look around and get as much local information as possible. Meet with a good local agent early and often to stay informed about local market trends, which can have an impact on when you sell.

2. Interest rates fluctuate

Most people need a mortgage to buy a home, and long-term interest rates are a major factor. For years, we’ve had  historically low mortgage rates of 3 to 4 percent. But don’t forget: In the 1980s, rates were 12 percent or higher.

It’s not unusual for buyers to jump into the real estate market when they hear news of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. It’s very likely that when rates start to creep back up again—and they eventually will—would-be buyers will turn into active customers.

3. Seasons change

While the spring is still a strong selling season, today’s buyers are looking online and searching on their phones every day, no matter the season, and transactions happen from New Year’s Day to Christmas Eve. If you have a home to sell and aren’t in a rush, consider doing so at a traditionally “off” time. There will be fewer homes for sale, which means less competition.

4. Having the down payment isn’t everything

If a real estate purchase were purely financial, then every renter who has money saved up and has a solid job would get into the market. But there are practical and emotional considerations. I’ve worked with buyers for months, sometimes years. They were always qualified to purchase but never pulled the trigger.

Why were they gun shy? Because it doesn’t make sense to put down 20 percent and take on a mortgage if their job with an hour commute isn’t steady, their marriage is on the rocks, or their aging parents live across the country. Renting and keeping with the status quo is totally acceptable if there is any uncertainty in your future.

Since the financial crisis, many buyers have been hesitant to get back into the real estate market. And for good reason: some of those buyers probably were never qualified to be in the market. But many parts of the country have experienced a comeback.

If you think home buying is in your future, do your research. Take your time, get your ducks in a row and start to feel the market. Just realize that no one can predict when the right house will come along, and you can’t time a real estate market.

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