Is 2015 Your Year to Sell a Home?
|According to experts, 2015 is on track to bring something the housing market hasn't seen in a while: a return to normal. After a decade of economic extremes, normal can seem, well, boring—especially if you're banking on sharp price increases to sell a home.
We haven't seen a normal housing market since the turn of the 21st century, so perhaps a refresher's in order. Here's a peek at what you can expect going into 2015:
Do You Have Enough Equity?
This is the million-dollar question for most folks. Ideally, you want enough equity to cover the down payment on your next home.
To calculate it, simply subtract your mortgage balance from the current market value of your home. Let's say your home is worth $150,000 and you owe $120,000. That means you have $30,000 in home equity. So is $30,000 enough? That depends on how much you plan to spend on your next home! Dave recommends putting at least 10% down, but 20% is even better because you'll avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI).
A word of advice: Don't try to figure out what your home's worth on your own. This job calls for a pro who knows firsthand what buyers are paying for similar homes in your area. Ask an experienced real estate agent for a free comparative market analysis (CMA) to ensure you're working with accurate numbers.
Can You Afford the Prep Work?
Most people know home equity has financial sway in your decision to sell. But it's not the only factor to consider. You also need room in your budget to make your home look (and work) its best.
Start by hiring a certified home inspector to assess your home's condition. A presale inspection might cost a few hundred dollars, but it's well worth the investment. Why? Because it can keep you from losing big bucks at the negotiation table or, even worse, a home deal.
Don't worry about checking off every single to-do on your home inspection report. Work with your real estate agent to prioritize findings so you know where to focus your dollars. Big-ticket issues—like a saggy roof or limping HVAC system—can scare buyers into asking for way more money than it actually takes to fix it. If you have room in your budget, take care of those before planting the for-sale sign in your yard.
Once you've tackled repairs, it's time to spiff things up. Thankfully, you can knock cleaning and decluttering out on your own to save money. But it's also important to create a setting buyers can't resist. Set aside a few extra dollars to make your home really shine. This might include things like fresh paint, landscaping, updated fixtures—or all of the above.
Get the Real Deal From a Pro
Selling your home is a big decision. Before you make your next move, ask a real estate agent you trust to provide honest advice so you can do what's best for you and your budget. Look for someone who puts service before sales—but knows how to get things done when it's time to sell.