Sell our home now? Or wait until summer?

© 2015 Richard Montgomery

Reader Question: We’ve decided to sell our home and buy in a different school district. I’d like to sell in March so I can pre-register my kids for school. Should we wait until summer, since more people will be looking? I’d hate to sell too early and not get as much for the house as possible. Tamara O.

Monty’s Answer: Supply and demand are only one factor in determining the right timing. If you sell and buy in a soft market, in theory, you are selling for less and buying for less. If you wait till the market improves to sell, in theory, you will also buy for more. If those two options are the only options, choose the former.

Here are other considerations:

  • Is it possible to sell in a seller’s market and buy in buyers market? Would you be willing to move twice to save money? If prices fall off in winter and you can quantify the price softening, is the cost and inconvenience of a double-move an option to consider? There is no sure thing when looking into the future; Will interest rates stay low? Will home values remain steady? One thing for certain is you will know your down payment amount.
  • In every kind of market, every home has a range of value. Can a family sell their home at the high end of the range of value and buy in the same market at the low end of the value range? It can be done, but with the following extra work:
    • Time to learn the differences in feature values between comparable homes.
    • The availability to look with short notice.
    • Write an offer with as few contingencies as possible.
    • Working with an agent that is readily accessible.

The examples above or other occurrences has an impact on your decision on when to buy or sell. Whether negative or positive, each of your personal details should be considered.

You should evaluate your financial ability, individual needs, and personal desire. It is the overall interpretation of a combination of your present circumstances that will help you draw the right conclusions. The equation below assists in depicting this concept:


Who Knows What The Market Is Like?

Knowing the market will often affect when you make the move. A retiring couple, for example, may have time to consider market conditions particularly thoroughly before deciding when to sell their home. Whereas, a homeowner, who is transferring, probably will not have that luxury.

Talk to real estate agents and their suppliers who know what is happening in your particular market. Title company employees, mortgage lenders, home inspectors and more all have access to credible information. Real estate agents provide complete data and should be more in tune with utilizing the MLS statistics to answer your particular questions.

For What Information Should I Be Looking?

Here are some general thoughts on key market conditions in your area of which to be aware:

  1. Waiting for interest rates to rise or fall should not be your only consideration. Declining interest rates can create a “seller’s market” and your interest rate savings may be offset by an increased price. Conversely, rising rates can give way to a “buyer’s market” as the number of qualified buyers decreases. Waiting for interest rate fluctuations may not be a chance to take.
  2. Sellers should learn the average length of time it currently takes to sell a home. Buyers may want to compare present averages with prior norms. The average market length can be an indication of a “sellers or buyers market.”
  3. Consider the area’s employment outlook, property taxes and other community factors, such as school district effectiveness. A company layoff or constant property tax increases in a community can negatively affect the market in that area.
  4. By considering the number of competing properties versus an estimate of the number of people looking, one gets the idea of the current balance between supply and demand. Be careful to look specifically in your price range as activity can vary significantly between price points.

Is Timing Important To You?

There are many aspects to consider before deciding if the time is right to buy or sell. Review this information, then consider making up a personalized list of pros and cons. Discuss market conditions with your contacts, check online and talk to real estate agents to search for relevant data. The more information you gather, the better prepared you will be to proceed in the proper direction.