Is Now the Right Time to Sell a Home?

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on March 23, 2021

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A For Sale sign in front of a two-story house surrounded by trees and a lawn.

Image source: Getty Images

You may want to list your home soon -- before there's more competition.

There's a reason housing inventory has been sluggish throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Given the general uncertainty that describes a lot of people's lives right now, many potential sellers don't want the upheaval that comes with listing a home and having to move.

There are also safety concerns to consider. Inviting strangers to view a house is an awkward prospect in the best of times. During a pandemic, it can be dangerous from a health standpoint.

Still, if you're looking to sell your home, you may want to get moving sooner rather than later. Here's why.

Inventory remains low

February's housing inventory was roughly half of what it looked like a year ago. That's a bad thing for buyers, but a great thing for you, as a seller. The reason? Limited inventory means buyers will have to duke it out over your home if it's only one of a few of a certain size or at a certain price point in your neighborhood. The result? You could walk away with a higher price for it. And seeing as home values are inflated already, that means you could profit big time.

But once spring kicks into gear, a flood of new homes could hit the market, as that's a far more popular time to list a home than winter. And more options for buyers could mean a lower sale price for you.

Also, we could see more people list their homes as coronavirus vaccinations become increasingly available and things improve on the pandemic front. That would, of course, be a good thing -- but from a seller perspective, it could pose more of a challenge for you, so you may want to beat that rush.

The direction of mortgage rates is uncertain

After months of sitting at or near record lows, mortgage rates have started to climb, and while they're still attractive on a historical basis, they're less appealing today than they were a few months ago. We don't know what direction rates will go over the next few months, but if they continue to creep upward, the demand for homes could begin to wane. And a reduction in buyer demand could lead to a lower sale price for you. That's why you may want to put your home on the market sooner rather than later -- before rates push buyers away.

What's more, even if rates drop in the coming month, listing your home today is still a good call because many buyers will want to take advantage of today's rates in case they go higher. Without a crystal ball, there's no way to know how they'll trend, but right now, they're low enough to remain attractive.

What's the right call for you?

Based on the state of the housing market and what mortgage rates look like, now's a good time to sell a home in general. But to see if it makes sense for you to sell right now, you'll need to also consider your personal circumstances. Specifically, you should ask yourself:

  • Am I ready to embark on a house hunt and move? You'll need someplace to live once your home sells.
  • Am I a good mortgage candidate? Unless you make enough on the sale of your home to buy a new one outright, you're going to need a home loan.
  • Have I found a good real estate agent to sell my home? The right agent could lead to a higher sale price and a smoother process overall. If you need more time to research agents, take it.

Of course, your general pandemic-related comfort level should factor into your decision as well. If the idea of having people traipse through your home doesn't sit right, then it could pay to wait to sell. It's not worth risking your safety for a higher sale price.

That said, if you're nervous about having a stream of people coming in and out of your home, you can work with your real estate agent to set up a virtual tour, where prospective buyers can scope out your home in an interactive fashion online. Then you can set up limited showings at times when you can vacate the premises to avoid close contact with others.

Ultimately, selling a home right now could work out very well. Just make sure it's the right thing to do based on your specific situation.

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