Are You Ready to Sell Your Home?

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The decision to sell your home shouldn’t be taken lightly, but there comes a point when it just makes sense.

How can you be sure that you’re making the right decision? Putting your home on the market is an individual decision that should combine personal and financial factors, but there are certain questions that can help determine if the time has come to put out the For Sale sign. Six questions follow to help you make a good decision.

Does it make sense to remodel or add on to your current home? Outgrowing a home is a typical scenario for many parents who find that their starter home is no longer big enough for their growing family. Feeling cramped and uncomfortable due to lack of space may seem like a compelling reason to move, but in many cases remodeling or adding on to your current home makes more sense. One of the most compelling reasons to remodel is that you can’t afford to buy a larger home in your target neighborhood. Make sure you can afford to buy a new home that fits your needs before you decide to sell.

Have you studied the local market? If you haven’t been keeping up on the current value of houses in your neighborhood, then it’s time to do some research. You may think you have a good idea of your home’s value, but it’s important to look into recent sales of comparable homes in your area, even before speaking to a Realtor about selling. The National Association of Realtors maintains links to websites with data about local and regional home sales; after studying the data for your neighborhood, you should feel more confident about discussing the asking price for your home.
Do you have enough equity? Equity should be one of the main determining factors in your decision to sell. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, you should never consider selling your home when you have negative equity, which means you owe more on your home than its current value. Breaking even is also not desirable, especially if you need extra money to purchase a larger home. You may find that it makes more sense to wait until you have more equity before selling your home.

Do you have a plan? Having a plan means you’ve thought about the process of selling your home and considered all the foreseeable outcomes. What if you don’t find a buyer? What if the home inspection turns up major issues? What if you’re lucky enough to get multiple offers? It’s better to be prepared than surprised when it comes to a large commitment such as selling your home. In addition to planning for all contingencies, you’ll need a good understanding of what you need to do to prepare your home for sale and be willing to make the commitment. You also should research real estate agents and have a few in mind to contact.

Are you really ready for change? People decide to sell their homes for a variety of reasons, from the need for more space to the desire for a change of scenery. Since moving is such a large life change, it’s important to make sure you’re really ready. Be honest about how emotionally invested you are in your home. Real estate agents report that it’s much harder to work with sellers who are still emotionally connected to their homes despite having put them on the market. Ideally, you should be ready to walk away from your home once it’s listed for sale and be 100 percent committed to helping your agent sell your home.

Can you afford to move? Before you get too excited about moving to a new home, it’s vital that you make sure you can finance your exit from your current home. You’ll probably need to invest in some home improvements before your house goes on the market, such as upgrading your kitchen and bathrooms and applying a fresh coat of paint. If you’re planning to take on debt to get your home ready for sale, make sure you have a backup plan in case the sale takes longer than you expected or you don’t get the offers you expected.

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then it’s time to consult an experienced real estate agent who can help you set a price for your home and get it ready for sale. An agent will also market your home to potential buyers, schedule showings and open houses, help you negotiate offers and handle the paperwork associated with the transfer of ownership. ■

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