When is the right time to sell my home?

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Ask a Lender
November 18, 2016 | Updated September 20, 2017


Key Points

Questions to consider before selling your home

  • How much is my house worth?
  • How much do I owe on the mortgage?
  • Can I afford to buy a new house?
  • Can I wait until spring?
  • Can I make this home fit my changing lifestyle?

People sell their homes for a variety of reasons, not all of which are under their control. Sometimes job changes or family transitions require a sudden housing or even location change that leaves people with no alternative other than to sell immediately and uproot.

Other life changes are more controllable. Empty nesters can decide when would be the best time to downsize or retire to somewhere warmer. Expectant couples can make do with less space for a while after the baby arrives. In these types of cases, you will want to do some research before putting your house on the market.

If you're thinking about selling your house, ask yourself the following questions:

How much is my house worth?

Before anything else, you should know what you can likely get for your house on the market. Look at comparable houses that have sold recently in your neighborhood. You can ask a Realtor for a free comparative market analysis or, for a rough estimate, check online real estate sites or just wander your neighborhood and look at listings.

How much do I owe on my mortgage?

Check your mortgage payoff amount and compare it against the estimated value of your house. If you can sell for more than you owe, you can use the extra as a downpayment on your new house. A 20 percent down payment will help you get better loan terms on your next home. If you still owe more than your house is worth, stay put until you build up more equity.

Am I financially ready to buy a new home?

In addition to a down payment, there are plenty of expenses related to buying and moving into a new house. You may want to build some savings to prepare for these extra bills before you sell. To get a firm idea of your financial ability to buy a new home, you also can find a lender and get preapproved for a loan.

Where am I going to buy a new home?

If your housing market is hot, you may be able to sell your house quickly and pocket a nice amount of cash. But if you are planning to buy in the same market, you could face high housing prices and low supply. Having a plan before you sell will help you make the right decisions.

Can I wait until spring?

Common wisdom and even studies show that homes listed in spring sell faster and for more money. Warmer weather and longer days mean more buyers and more showing. Homes also show better when your lawn is green and flowers are blooming. If you sell in spring and can wait until summer or winter to purchase (perhaps by renting), you might even find a bargain from someone forced to sell during the offseason.

Can I make my existing home fit my changing lifestyle?

If for any reason you feel you can't buy a new home that better fits your needs, you can make changes to your existing home instead. Add an extra room for the baby. Convert an unused bedroom into a home office. Add health and safety facilities so you can age in place. There are plenty of financing options available for renovating your home, especially if you have built up some equity.

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