As REALTORS®, Ben and I hear this question…a lot. (See also: Is Now A Good Time To Buy A House?) You may be seeing a lot of posts on Facebook or getting ads in your mailbox proclaiming: “NOW IS THE TIME TO SELL YOUR HOME!” Real estate agents are looking for listings, because our inventory is low and prices are steady and rising.
Despite what some real estate agents may tell you, there is no one, right answer to this question.
This isn’t a question for anyone to answer for you.
Some homeowners sell because they have to — they are relocating for a job, they own a home in a neighborhood or complex that won’t allow them to turn it in to a rental, they need more room for a growing family, they are faced with a life circumstance (such as divorce or a job loss) that forces their hand. In many cases in which a homeowner has to sell, the market conditions have very little to do with the decision — when you have to sell, you sell.
However, some homeowners sell because they want to — they know there is equity in their home that they want to use to upsize or downsize or they want to capitalize on their ability to “make money” with that equity without paying capital gains taxes, or perhaps they knew this home would always be their “starter” home, a way to jump into homeownership and their plan was always to move. In these circumstances — and many like them — the market conditions may have more to do with the decision to sell, since selling is an option and not a necessity.
Even when selling is purely by choice, though, no one can answer this question for you.
Selling a home is a big commitment — we’re here to help. While Metro Atlanta housing inventory is low and many sellers are getting top-dollar for their homes and find themselves in a strong negotiating position, there are a lot of factors that can go into this decision for a homeowner, and everyone’s criteria for being “ready to sell” are different.
The answer is this: do you feel ready to sell your home?
Here are some additional things to think about that might help you come up with the answer.
- How long have you owned and lived in the home? We always recommend that you consult with your CPA and financial planner about things like this, however, in most cases, if your home has been your primary residence for two of the last five years, then any profit that you make is not taxable. In other words, it’s yours to keep and the government cannot tax you on it. The amount of untaxable “capital gains” on your primary residence differs in certain circumstances (for example, are you married and filing jointly or do you own the home on your own), so check with your tax professional. If your home has been your primary residence for two of the last five years, and you have substantial equity in it, it may be a good time to sell your home and take advantage of your profits. Want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth? Click here for what the IRS has to say about qualifying for the capital gains exclusion.
- Do you like cheap money? It’s no cliché to say that interest rates are at historic lows! If you have a qualifying credit score and meet other qualification criteria (may differ by lender), it has never been more affordable to borrow money to buy a home — meaning, you could sell your current home and buy your dream home on the cheap. The interest rates really are that good. We can help you find a local lender to speak to to get more information. If “cheap money” is attractive to you, it’s probably a good time to think about selling your current home and finding a new one!
- Do you work from home? For the last couple of months, all of the changes related to COVID-19 have found a lot of us working from home, homeschooling, staying home more — in short, creating a safe, functional, cozy space for ourselves and our families. If you work from home and need a space that is more conducive to your work or to creating a creative and workable homeschool environment, now may be a good time to sell and find your next, better-for-you home.
- Do you want to be a landlord? Maybe you want to move but you don’t want to sell your current home. Perhaps you want to own real estate as a way of diversifying your investments — real estate is, of course, a historically good investment! If you qualify to buy another home without selling your current one and if your neighborhood or complex allows you to rent out your home, perhaps now is not the time to sell. It may just be the time to buy and move…and make your real estate investment dreams come true!
Notice that I didn’t answer any of those questions with, “It’s definitely” a good time to sell.”
Again, no one can make that final decision but you. However, one of my favorite parts of this life of mine in real estate is being a sounding board, a consultant, a trusted resource to all of our clients. We love the opportunity to meet with potential clients, and we love it when they are ready to sell their home. However, I also enjoy the trust and the bond that we can establish when we can lay out the pros and cons and when sometimes the best counsel for that potential client is, “Maybe now is not the optimal time for you to sell.”
It’s not the right time for everyone to sell, but for many of you, the time may be ripe! Give us a call today at 404-994-2181 or email Maura(at)BuySellLiveAtlanta(dot)com!