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The best time to sell your house is when you're financially and emotionally ready to move, and when there are plenty of buyers shopping for homes in your area.
Of course, sometimes you can't control the timing — you might have to relocate for a new job and need to move right away, for example.
But here are the things to consider about the timing of your home sale if you have some flexibility.
Is it a good time to sell a house?
A variety of external factors affect how fast you can sell a house and at what price.
Seller's vs. buyer's market
Homes tend to sell more quickly and at higher prices when there are more buyers than homes for sale — known as a seller's market. This is the case now in many U.S. cities, and it's expected to continue into 2021.
Of the existing homes sold in October 2020, 72% were on the market for less than a month, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median existing-home price was $313,000 in October, about 16% higher than October 2019.
Low mortgage rates can help make home buying more affordable. As a seller, that can benefit you in two ways:
Low rates may enable more people to buy, which could increase the pool of home shoppers interested in your property.
If you plan to buy another home, low mortgage rates will give you more buying power.
Time of year
The home buying season got a late start in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. In typical years, homes command the highest prices in June and July, according to a NerdWallet analysis of market trends in 50 of the most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. The analysis looked at 2015 through 2019 data from Realtor.com.
Is this the right time for you to sell a house?
Your finances and living situation as well the condition and value of your current home are among the things to evaluate when deciding if it’s time to sell.
» MORE: How to sell your house
Your home equity
Your equity is the market value of your home minus the balance on your home loan and any second mortgages. So if your property’s worth $250,000, and you owe a balance of $200,000, you have $50,000 in equity.
Hopefully the property will sell for enough to pay off your mortgage and any related selling costs, and provide some cash to put toward moving and buying another home.
If you have little or no equity, it might be better to wait until your home increases in value, you pay down the mortgage, or both.
The cost of selling a house and moving
Although ideally it will result in a profit, selling a home costs money:
If you sell your house for a lot more than what’s owed on the mortgage, you may have plenty of money to pay these expenses from the sale proceeds. But if you think you'll come up short, it might be better to wait and save up before putting the house on the market. And you might also build equity as you pay down your mortgage.
Your home's condition
Take a fresh look at your house, and tackle any repair or sprucing-up projects before listing it. A real estate agent may be able to recommend value-adding updates based on what they know about your local market.
Here are some general guidelines:
Do what needs to be done to ensure the home is functional and in good repair.
Tackle any small projects that will increase curb appeal or provide a good return on investment when you sell the house.
Avoid taking on big projects just to make the house look the way you always wanted it to. You probably won't recoup all the costs of an expensive remodel when you sell, and the buyer might not share your taste.
Your life situation
Are you expecting a child — or other relative — to be a part of your family in the near future? The need for more space might be a signal it’s a good time to sell.
Or, if you’re an empty-nester, you might decide your house is too big, requires too much upkeep, and you could benefit from downsizing.
Maybe you’re satisfied with your property, but it’s in an inconvenient location and too far from friends and family.
Whatever your situation, if your home and neighborhood no longer fit your needs, the time may be right to sell and find a location that fits your lifestyle.