Sunday, December 19, 2010

The best time to sell a home in 2011

One of the questions that we frequently get asked is, "When is the best time to sell our house?" In fact what those people are really asking is, "How do we get the maximum value for our property?" It is not really about the time of the year.

However, weather and holidays do play an important factor in selling your home. Almost no one goes house hunting around Christmas, and few give up their summer vacations.

Late spring and summer are usually thought of as the best times to put a home on the market because buyer demand builds steadily through spring. Sales then peak during the warmest months when the nice weather and beautiful flowers make it a great time to show your home.

Families with school aged children are less likely to move during the school year and summer is an ideal time.

August brings a lag in sales, as people go away on vacation and start to think about the new school year. Sales surge briefly in the fall before dropping in winter as buyers and sellers focus on the holidays. However, by January, buyers are out again and sales steadily increase into spring.

Of course, selling in the hot season isn’t the whole story. You should pay attention to your local housing market and try to list during a seller’s market, when there will be more competition among buyers for your home – which could mean a better price, a quicker closing and fewer conditions on the offer. Your real estate agent will be able to tell you what the local housing market is like.

On the other hand, if it is a buyers' market, you may be in a strong position to purchase a new home, especially if you have accumulated large equity in your current property.

Another key factor to consider is the economy. Are interest rates higher or lower in comparison to your current mortgage? If they are higher, you may want to stick with your current home, as your new mortgage payments could be uncomfortable. If rates are lower, you might be able to trade up to a more expensive home without a significant increase in your monthly mortgage obligation.

Some sellers may have no choice but to sell at a slow time of year. Job relocation and the need to free up assets are facts of life that can deprive families of the luxury of waiting until the spring bloom to put their homes on the market. But there are ways to improve your chances of a sale if you have to list your home late in the year, like playing up holiday decorations and shovelling walkways to maximize curb appeal. Selling at this point in the cycle isn't always the worst fate.

Try not to sell a house in a quiet market. As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to sell your home within 6-8 weeks from listing, while it's fresh. After this period the listing becomes "old" and buyers start getting suspicious. They tend to assume something is wrong with the property and stay away. When this happens, it could damage your chance of getting the best price.

Trying to time the real estate market is no different than trying to predict the financial markets. One can make broad assessments, however precise predictions would be tantamount to having a crystal ball. If we could all predict the future, we would never have market corrections or crashes.

The truth is, there are people buying real estate every week of the year, and often for personal reasons. The best time to sell is when you are ready.

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