By Maria Patterson
If you’re like me, thoughts of putting your home on the market and moving up, down or out of dodge all together periodically float through your mind. These days, there’s extra incentive given the inventory shortage in most regions of the country—some areas are even experiencing bidding wars.
After back-to-back years of a robust housing recovery, we are continuing to experience another year of a shortage of inventory of homes for sale. With a large backlog of homebuyers, multiple offers on new listings are the norm. We are seeing approximately 90 percent of sales activity in the market areas and price ranges where we are experiencing the shortage/low inventory, which is sending prices upward.
National statistics bear this out. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, total existing-home sales increased 6.1 percent in March—the highest annual rate since September 2013—however, the housing supply has only experienced a modest increase, just 2 percent above a year ago. Long to short—it’s a seller’s market.
Still, choosing to sell is a big decision—a decision that requires the careful weighing of a variety of factors, both lifestyle and financial. To help sort things out, here are five telling signs that now just might be the time to finally put your home on the market.
1. You’ve outgrown your space—really. This is usually the number-one reason that gets me thinking about moving up to a bigger home. I get anxious trying to find sleep spaces for overnight guests or frustrated by my overcrowded closet. But truly needing more space is about more than that. Do you have kids outgrowing shared bedrooms? An in-law moving in? A new virtual work opportunity that requires a home office? These are the life events that really necessitate a bigger home—not the inability to curb one’s shoe-buying habit.
2. Your neighborhood is booming. While home sales and values are improving at a healthy yet gradual rate on a national level, you may find yourself smack-dab in the middle of a hot market. Pay attention to those “Recently Sold” postcards in your mailbox and talk to those neighbors plunking down For Sale signs in their yards. Contact your local real estate professional and check out comparable sales. If homes are selling above listing price and you’ve been on the fence about selling for a while, now might be a wise time to take the leap.
3. You’re letting things go. Remember when home improvement projects and landscaping chores were fun? When you’d spend hours happily painting, planting and hammering away? Well, if that’s a distant memory and your grass is knee-high and the porch railing’s rotting, this may be a sign that you’re ready to move onto a maintenance-free way of life. Realize that the more you let things go around the house, the more money you’ll have to invest to get it ready for market or worse, you’ll have to drop the price to get it sold. So honestly evaluate if it’s time for a home that offers a simpler, less work-intensive option.
4. Your equity is back. Many of us didn’t even consider selling for many years based on the fact that our equity evaporated during the housing crash. But don’t stay stuck in that mindset. The fact is, increasing numbers of homeowners are returning to positive equity. According to Corelogic’s Third Quarter 2014 Equity Report, 94 percent of homes priced at $200,000 and above have positive equity. So do some research and have your home reappraised. You may find that your equity is back and that selling is an option again.
5. Your life has changed. An important life change can trump all other reasons to sell your home. Growing or shrinking families, a new job with a new, long commute, retirement, divorce, etc., are cause to seriously consider moving on to a home that makes more sense for life as you now know it. Ultimately, a happy home is one that’s in sync with your current phase of life. Make sure you find the right fit.