Is Now the Right Time to Sell Your Home?

More of the home-selling population thinks that now is a good time to sell, but consider these things first.

Feb 9, 2014 at 9:30AM


Photo: OTA Photos

With the housing market on an upswing, is now the right time to put your house on the market?

A recent survey by Redfin found 38% of home sellers believe now is a good time to sell, up from 34% last quarter and an enormous improvement from 22% in the fourth quarter of last year.

It is no secret that a lot of homeowners who want to sell their homes have been waiting (for several years in some cases) for a better housing market before listing their house.  Mortgage rates are relatively low, inventories are at their lowest level in years, and confidence in the housing market is the highest it's been since before the mortgage crisis. 

Sounds like you should consider selling, right? The short answer is "maybe", but there are several factors to consider in determining whether it is the right time to sell for you.

Location: What's going on in your local market?
Before deciding to put your home on the market, it is very important to contact a local realtor (or a few) in order to see what's happening where you live.

Maybe smaller homes are selling but larger, more expensive homes are sitting on the market for six months or more.  Maybe there is a high amount of inventory of homes like yours on the market, which generally creates more pressure to lower the asking price. In many coastal areas, markets are at a standstill due to the ongoing drama regarding flood insurance

On the other hand, maybe your particular type of home is very popular in the area you live in.  Maybe condos are in high demand where you live.  Maybe a new large employer opened up and homes nearby are in high demand.

The point is there is a tremendous variety of real estate markets in the United States, and there is no way to determine the level of demand for a particular property just by looking at national statistics.

Mortgage rates
Believe it or not, mortgage rates haven't really played a big role in the decision to sell or not.  Of those home sellers that were surveyed, only 11% said that mortgage rates were a big factor in their decision, and 48% said it was not a factor at all.

However, home buyers may disagree. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, purchase applications (mortgage applications excluding refinancings) are 17% lower than they were a year ago, when the average 30-year mortgage rate was around 3.5%.  The MBA's survey puts the average rate at 4.47% as of last week.

If more people decide to sell their homes and less people decide to buy, as has been the trend in recent months, we may see a buildup of inventory which would make homes tougher to sell and would probably cause prices to fall a bit.

One potential bright spot in regards to mortgage rates: the recent sell-off in the stock market has caused rates to pull back a bit.  Even if the 3.5% rates that we saw over the last couple of years are a thing of the past, a small dip in rates would be a nice change, considering that most experts were predicting a drift toward a 5% 30-year average rate.

Should you sell or wait for brighter days?
The main takeaway from this discussion should be the decision to sell should not be based on any one thing, especially a national survey. It is very important to speak with several realtors to get a feel for what's going on in your area, and to keep an eye on what comparable properties near you are selling for.

As far as mortgage rates are concerned, it certainly doesn't look like a bad idea to wait and see rates tick down a bit, but it may not matter too much.  The difference in a mortgage payment between 4.5% and 4.3% rates is not very significant and the survey respondents are probably right that it shouldn't play a big part in your decision.

But is it the right time to buy The Motley Fool's top stock for 2014?
There's a huge difference between a good stock and a stock that can make you rich. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers