Are you looking to sell your house? Then you might be a little excited about the prospect because home prices have soared over the past year. The combination of a sudden demand for suburban living coupled with a very low supply of homes for sale has served to push home prices up, in some places by more than 30% over last year.   Here are some things to make sure of before you release the brakes on this downhill race.

Research is necessary

Bo-ring!  I know.  But knowledge is power.  So first of all, do a little research. Just because the papers or the TV news is saying that it is a seller’s market and that there is a boom in real estate sales doesn’t mean it is happening in your area. Real estate markets vary from State to State; even within a city, it can differ from one zip code to another.  Before calling a real estate agent, do yourself a favor and search out local trends in real estate.  Make sure you are familiar with local real estate market news.

Why are you really selling?

Be very clear within yourself about why you want to sell.  Selling in a seller’s market usually doesn’t make sense if you have to buy in that same market.  Are you moving somewhere that boasts a lower cost of living, lower taxes, a more attractive lifestyle for you and your family?  Are you downsizing to free up some time and finances for retirement?  Do you actually need a bigger home in the same area, and does it have to be NOW?  Can it wait until the meshugas is over and supply and demand are a little better in sync?  Remember:  it’s not just a home, it is a major investment of your financial worth.

Keep an eye on the news

Sometimes it’s easy to peg an upswing in market prices.  Your neighbor might mention he put the house on the market and it sold with multiple offers in two days for an extraordinary price.  Your local news may run a feature on a sudden upsurge in activity and prices.  Knowing why it’s happening is important because that can help to inform your timing.  For example, the recent pandemic caused a new flight from crowded urban living to the suburbs, where people could enjoy the outdoors in their own back yards.  At the same time, most would-be sellers were hesitant to list their homes for sale because they were afraid to have throngs of strangers traipsing through their homes, running the risk of infecting their families.  So there was very little for sale, coupled with a huge demand for housing.  This was a perfect storm of a seller’s market, and although it was great for sellers, it was very frustrating for buyers.  Prices have been spiraling upwards with seemingly no end in sight.

What goes up must come down

Of course, nothing lasts forever.  There is a lot of speculation about what might happen when the conditions that caused a seller’s market no longer exist.  In this case, the lifting of pandemic restrictions and a slow return to “normal” life might mean that more homes are listed for sale, evening out the balance between supply and demand.  Will it be a crash or a “correction?”  How much will prices fall?  Will they fall?  Well, no one is sure.  We do know that many of those who have become accustomed to working from home feel strongly that they would like to continue doing so.  Employers seem to be listening, at least in part.  Former city residents, now enjoying backyard barbeques, and freed from the dreary commute to the city, are hoping that even a hybrid schedule of telecommuting and a couple of days in the office, will be a new way to function.  If this scenario becomes the dominant one, we are not likely to see home prices sag noticeably any time soon.

Seasons Matter!

Late spring is a great time to list your home for sale.  Tax time means a lot of people will be receiving a refund, which can often function as an initial down payment on a home.  If you are selling, it’s a great incentive to enhance the curb appeal of your home with a new front door, garden, or to give your kitchen a facelift.  The school year ends at this point in the year, and families with school aged children will usually plan their move to beat the upcoming start of the next school year in September.  Your home looks its best now, with trees and flowers in bloom, and pleasant weather adding to the overall ambiance of the buyer’s experience. 

As warm weather continues into Autumn, the stunning show Nature puts on in the form of changing leaf color, along with golden afternoon Autumn light, can boost your home’s appeal.  There are fewer buyers now, but they are serious buyers who need to move regardless of the season.  The same can be said for those winter months when snow, rain, and ice deter all but the most determined home buyers.  Any buyer braving slippery roads, going around in boots and parkas, is a buyer on a mission.  For obvious reasons, many sellers will take their homes off the market around November and not resume selling until after New Year’s.  Holidays, school vacation time, and all the busy calendar events conspire to make this a “supply desert” of a sales environment.  Sellers during this season who need a quick sale may resort to lowering their price in order to entice a deal.  But if your home is in really good shape in a really good location, you should stick to your guns if at all possible.  Value is value!