5 Things to Consider Before Selling a Home During a Pandemic

by Dana George | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on May 2, 2021

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A woman looking unsure while moving boxes into a new house.

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This may be the perfect time to sell your home -- or the worst. Here are five things to consider before selling.

It's safe to say that few saw this coming -- as news of the pandemic made its way across airwaves early last year, not many people would have guessed that in the middle of COVID-19, the housing market would be on fire. If you own a home and the current market has inspired you to sell, here are five things you may want to consider before putting your house on the market.

1. Sales prices are excellent; however…

The combination of low interest rates and low inventory due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a red-hot housing market, with homes often selling over the asking price. That's great, but remember you'll still need to pay for another place to live if you sell your home. If you plan to buy another property, you'll be competing with other hungry buyers. That means you, too, are likely to pay top dollar for a new home. If you plan to rent, you may be surprised to learn that rents have gone up in many parts of the country, despite the pandemic.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price NSA Index reveals that by November 2020, the price of single-family homes had risen 9.5% over the previous November. Even if you receive nearly 10% more for your home than it was worth last year, you're probably going to have to pay the same kind of increase to snag a new residence. Selling your home while the market is blazing hot is only a smart move if you plan to move to a less-expensive area.

2. You can't know if someone who enters your home is sick

Showing your home during a pandemic means you never know the health status of the people entering the property. Even if most home tours are conducted online, buyers will most likely want to see the house in person before making a final offer. Also, professionals like home appraisers and inspectors have to come through the home. Before putting your house on the market during COVID-19, make sure you're comfortable with having little control over who's in your house. Have a plan for cleaning after anyone has been inside.

3. A property that does not photograph well is at a disadvantage

Some homes look better in person. The past decade has seen a shift toward online showings, with buyers only physically visiting homes they are serious about. The coronavirus pandemic has caused even more buyers to adopt this method of house-hunting. If your home has a lot of architectural details that don't show up on camera, address the issue with your real estate agent. Your agent may need to hire an exceptional photographer, or change marketing strategies to highlight what makes your home special.

4. It can be tough to find help

When the market is this active, it can be difficult to find service providers like cleaners and moving companies. Many businesses that are fully back to work are already booked, so you may find yourself on the wrong end of a long wait. Plan what you'll do if you can't find service providers who can meet your timeline. For example, if you can't find a moving company to pack, load, and move your possessions, decide how much you can do yourself, or find out if you can get help from friends and family.

A quick tip: If you decide to sell, consider asking for a closing date extension. For example, you could ask for an additional 15 days to ensure you can find the help you need. In this seller's market, it's doubtful that a buyer would balk.

5. Emotional decisions are not always the best decisions

If you're moving in response to emotional fallout from the widespread difficulties of 2020, you may want to take a beat before you make a life-changing decision. Let's say you decided, in the middle of sheltering in place, that you want to live in another state to be closer to family. You never want to feel so totally isolated again. It's a natural response, and may be the right move for you. However, consider giving yourself a few months to see how you feel when more people are vaccinated and life begins to return to normal. You want to have as few regrets as possible.

Getting a fresh start can be exciting. Before you leap, though, think it through to determine whether now is the right time.

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