12 Million Homeowners Ready to Sell: What They Need To Know

Elizabeth Renter
By Elizabeth Renter 
Updated
Edited by Alex Richards
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Selling your home is complex. You’re strategizing about the listing price and making improvements so that it’s more appealing to potential buyers. But you’re also preparing to change the backdrop of your day-to-day life, with all the feelings moving brings.

Millions of American homeowners are taking the first steps in this process. Just over 12.1 million homeowners — 16% of them — plan to sell their primary residence within the next 18 months, according to a new survey of over 1,400 homeowners commissioned by NerdWallet and conducted online by The Harris Poll.

Their motivations for moving are mixed, but some sellers point to a changing market. More than 2 in 5 (44%) of those planning to sell in the next 18 months say recent shifts in the housing market have them selling sooner than initially planned — but a larger share of future sellers (56%) say those changes have not expedited their timeline.

"Homeowners can see that we're moving away from a strong seller's market in many areas. So their feelings and motivations are shifting, too,” says NerdWallet home expert Holden Lewis. “Also, selling your home is an emotional decision as well as one of dollars and cents, so it’s unsurprising that people have a variety of motivations and sentiments."

No matter their motivations, home sellers will face a similar journey. We’ve matched our survey results with tips for future sellers to make the process easier.

1. Ready your home for the sale

You should definitely do the dishes before your open house, but what about fixing the drafty front door or the roof leak? Roughly three-quarters (76%) of homeowners who plan to sell their homes within the next 18 months say they’ll be spending money on major repairs and renovations to make their homes more appealing to buyers, according to the survey.

They are expecting to spend a median of $3,000, with 19% of future sellers who plan on doing improvements saying they’ll shell out $15,000 or more.

“Homeowners preparing to sell should make their renovations count, spending where they’re most likely to increase home value and get a good return on their home improvement investments,” according to Lewis.

Start by evaluating your home’s curb appeal, says Lewis. This can include keeping landscaping well-maintained, tidying your yard or porch, and power-washing or painting your home’s exterior.

“After that, your best return on investment comes from freshening up the kitchen and bathrooms if they're outdated,” he adds. “There's no need to go overboard. New flooring, updated fixtures and refaced cabinets might be enough."

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