Thinking of selling your home?
These items will have a direct impact on your ability to sell for top dollar, and make the sale more predictable too:
1. Sell When You Have Good Comps – There’s nothing wrong with letting a neighbor (or two) be the guinea pig, and sell their house first. Once there are a couple of strong sales nearby, it is much easier to justify your top-dollar price.
Similarly, if there have been a couple of bad sales recently, wait at least six months after they have closed before selling. Appraisers can’t use them if they are more than six months old, but buyers are known to have longer memories.
2. Sell When There Are Good Active Listings Nearby – Ideally you’d like to have recently-closed sales to help justify your case, but if you don’t have those, the next best thing is to undercut the unsold listings nearby. You will look like the ‘best buy’ only if you drastically undercut the competition….by at least 5%. Buyers probably know the others are over-priced, so just under-cutting them by a few bucks isn’t enough.
3. Sell Right After Home Improvements – Retail buyers (the ones who pay top dollar) don’t want the fixers, they prefer the cream puffs. Shiny new improvements lose their luster quickly; so if you need to fix things, spend the money and then list your home the next day.
4. Sell When New Tenants Move Out Nearby – Are you among the unfortunate owner-occupiers who have to endure tenants next door? Did the renters with five kids and 14 yapping dogs just move out? It’s a good time to sell! Or conversely, if a great couple with no noise-makers just moved in, sell before they move out!
5. Sell When You Go On Vacation – If it all goes right, dozens of strangers will be pouring through your house with little or no notice the first few days on the market. If that idea bugs you, go on vacation the day your house goes on the market – especially if you have a lot of kids and pets.
6. Sell Before You Get Old – You might chuckle, but it’s true. For most sellers, moving means: a) having to sift through all the old junk that has been stored away for years and decide what is worth keeping, b) packing and unpacking, c) dealing with a lot of unknowns – strangers, moving, new home, getting settled again, etc., and d) making life-changing decisions. Don’t underestimate how exhausting the transition can be.
7. Sell Once You Know Where You Are Going – You have to be 100% committed to moving. Why? Because once a seller signs the purchase contract, you cannot cancel (only the buyer can). In addition, if you don’t know where you are moving, you will price your home too high, and it won’t sell.
Many sellers need to leave town to make it worth it. If you are thinking that you’ll just rent for a year or two and find a smaller place later for half-off, recent history has shown that it is very difficult to score a big discount in the great neighborhoods. If you opt for that program, be prepared for the other option which is perfectly acceptable – you may rent the rest of your life.
8. Sell in March or July – We are fortunate to enjoy a 12-month selling season in San Diego. Everyone thinks that hitting the market during the Spring Selling Season is the most productive, but there is usually more competition too.
If you wanted to time your own move around spring or summer, then focus on March or July. If you list in March, hopefully there were already 1-2 of your neighbors who were successful in Jan/Feb, and you can ride their coattails. March is the safest bet, because April’s market has a lull due to taxes, May/June is graduation season, and summer is full of vacations. Or wait until the last minute and list in July once all the good buys have been taken (and hopefully several of them sold for astronomical prices) and school is bearing down on the family buyers.
9. Get Good Help! It was easy in 2013, but homebuyers are more particular now that we have much-higher pricing. Spend a little more on sprucing up your home, be sharper on price, and don’t just hire any realtor off the street – get good help!