Your home is probably your most valuable asset. How do you know when it’s time to maximize your return? Here are six signs it may be time to sell:
Your family is outgrowing your current home
Urban-dwelling families with young children have a lot more to consider than closets bursting at the seams and tiny apartments chock-full of baby gear. A neighborhood that was great for a couple or a family with small kids may not be quite so desirable when it’s time to start thinking about school.
“The No. 1 reason why people sell their home is that they’ve outgrown their space because their family is getting bigger and they’re shopping for a school district,” said Holly Mellstrom, an associate broker with Sotheby’s.
The mortgage and taxes on a bigger home may be intimidating, but so is private school tuition. Hence, a search for top-notch public schools quickly turns into a search for a new home.
Lifestyle shifts are compelling you to rethink your living space
The home with the big yard (and taxes and mortgage to match) may feel empty and excessive when your kids have flown the coop.
Or perhaps you or your partner have decided to work from home or to start a business and you’ll need a home office.
Homeowners nearing retirement age could be thinking about aging in place, in which case a home with a ground-floor master suite seems essential.
If your life is fundamentally different than it was when you bought your home, it may be time to reassess: Is your home still serving your needs? If not, it may be time to sell and invest the returns in the next phase of your life.
You’re emotionally ready to sell your home
“The process of selling is many times an emotional roller coaster,” Mellstrom told Business Insider.
For instance, if you’re selling the home your children grew up in, that could tug at your heartstrings, and you may also get some pushback from them. Can you handle the potential resistance?
You’ll also need to declutter, and that could mean packing up some treasured mementos, putting some furniture in storage and generally making your house look as lean and clean as possible. If you’re living with small children and pets, that can cause some major stress. And of course, there could be a parade of potential buyers disrupting your routine, and possibly giving negative feedback.
It’s all part of the selling process, so you’ll need to prepare yourself to detach and let go.
The real estate market seems hospitable to sellers
“The biggest new wave of new home buyers is millennials, and they are first-time buyers,” Marc J. Lane, a Chicago lawyer and tax advisor, told Business Insider. “But inventory is at historically low levels.”
Why? According to The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, more and more seniors who were born after 1931 are choosing to remain in their homes and age in place, a trend that caused 1.6 million houses to be kept off the market.
According to Lane, new buyers coming into the market, an inventory shortfall, and relatively low interest rates, amounts to a “perfect storm” that favors sellers. While those factors alone don’t dictate whether or not you’ll sell your home, they may play into how you time your sale.
You’ve done the research on your local market
While it’s a good idea to educate yourself on national trends, remember that “all real estate is hyper-local,” Mellstrom said.
And that means you need to tap into the wisdom of a local broker who will have the inside scoop on homes like yours that have sold in the past few months, as well as ones that may be coming onto the market soon and will compete with your home for buyers.
“Trends are driven by buyers and sellers in a specific market, so you need to look at what other sellers are selling their homes in your neighborhood,” she said.
You’ve got a solid plan for what comes next
Remember, Lane said, “if you’re selling, you’re probably also buying, and you need to make sure the economics on the purchase are also favorable.”
If you bought your home at the height of the real estate bubble, you may not have much equity in it. After you’ve paid the broker’s commission and moving expenses, you might not have a lot of cash left over for a down payment on a new home. If you’re able, it may make more sense to sit tight and build up more equity.
But if the home was acquired during the recession, you will have benefited from low interest rates and lower prices, and a sale will give you a nice chunk of cash.
“Cash out when you’ll have more equity to make the next purchase less painless,” Lane said.