Articles by: Mary Houston, Cleveland Real Estate Broker
I often get asked when is the best time to sell your home. In Northeast Ohio, typically Spring marks the busiest home buying and selling season, with warmer weather, more daylight, and the desire to get a home before the next school year begins. As long as the most recent data for comparable homes sold for less during the winter isn’t “holding you hostage”, all usually balances out. On the contrary, offering more data from the prime robust spring season will help when selling in the Summer and Fall.
However, I feel the best time to sell your home is when it is the right time for you. The fact of the matter is that the best time to sell your home is when your need or desire to sell, exceeds your need or desire to remain in your home. Consider the following –
When your current home is no longer the best fit for your needs.
Maybe your current home isn’t your “forever home?” I consider homes to be more like stepping stones. Our needs change as we go through life. You may want to move, because you need more space for a growing family. Your children could have moved off to college and you could be “swimming” in your home. You may have aging parents who need to move in and need your help. The commute to your job may be killing you, or now you work from home and discover you do not like your neighborhood. When your home no longer fits your life situation, it is a time to consider selling.
Your current interest rate is high.
Interest rates are at historic lows. If you are carrying a high interest rate mortgage on a home, and refinancing won’t help or is not an option, then selling may be worth a consideration.
When the market favors the seller and the seller’s wallet.
The real estate market always shifts to a buyer’s market, a seller’s market, or a balanced market. If the market is favoring sellers, you may want to consider putting your home on the market. Especially if your home is paid off, every dollar you earn over what you paid for is pure profit.
Every single day, homeowners become new or former homeowners for all kinds of different reasons. There are no invalid reasons to sell your home; there are only the reasons why it may be the right time for you. In my opinion, the best time to sell your home is when it’s the right time for you.
What is a FSBO? As most know, a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) refers to the sale of properly directly through the owner rather than with the assistance of a professional real estate agent/broker. I completely understand a property owner wanting to receive the highest price possible, as well as receiving the most monies after all expenses. That is the hope for all who look to sell property, but it does not always entail the highest net proceeds from the sale. Navigating through a sale with showings, negotiations, paperwork, inspections, appraisals, and a preferred close date and possession, also have the same significance and importance.
There is another aspect of property selling that should be considered. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) serves the interests of sellers by assembling property information and distributing that information to MLS participants who have buyer-clients actively seeking to purchase property in the area served by the MLS. The MLS benefits consumers by facilitating aggregation and evaluation of numerous factors that can affect a property’s fair market value. MLS information facilitates preparation of appraisals, comparative market analyses, and broker price opinions that help consumers ascertain a property’s fair market value. Sellers often rely upon those valuations when setting listing prices; buyers use them when making offers to purchase. Those valuations are especially useful when they include information about comparable properties, including sales prices, days on market, and property conditions. Not using and withholding that market information from the MLS hinders consumers’ ability to receive useful estimates of value. There is market information that Realtors and the MLS gather that cannot be determined sight unseen by computers.
There is also the opinion that Realtors just drive around in fancy cars, put a sign in the yard, and then expect and collect big commission checks. Having 15 years’ experience in the northeastern Ohio real estate market, I have found overwhelmingly that Realtors work extremely hard, for many hours of the day, 7 days a week, and for not as much money as the consumer may think. There are commissions to split with other cooperating brokers and varying costs to consider.
It is a property homeowner’s right to enter into the real estate sales market without a professional, but I do not understand why someone would. It would be like going into a courtroom without a lawyer. It would be like going into surgery without a surgeon and specialist in that field. Homeownership can be one of your most important financial assets. There are so many factors to be taken into consideration, and there are so many things that can go south quickly.
For the past five months The Houston Group website has stated “Website Coming Soon!” After much internal anticipation, it has been completed with the artistic and talented help of Cleveland graphic design, web design and branding firm, Go Media Inc.
Therefore, it would be appropriate to blog about the controversial “Coming Soon” advertising which has seemingly become more present in marketing homes for sale. Recently, on April 26th, the local MLS has introduced a status in the system of “Coming Soon” with inherent guidelines real estate brokers are to follow. Undoubtedly, the local board’s decision to do this, came from confusion, controversy and issues stemming from this marketing technique and to try set a standard within the industry. Especially in today’s low inventory market, it is extremely frustrating and upsetting to buyers and buyer-client agents to call on a “coming soon” property to be told it is available for showings at a specified time, only to find out days later that it has been sold and is no longer available. If not executed properly, it can cause unneeded consumer frustration, harms the reputation of the real estate broker, the real estate industry in general, and may be a license law violation.
What does it mean to market a property as “coming soon”? The answer will vary depending on the agent, broker, or MLS. “Coming Soon” signs and/or listings have been around for a long time. Some “coming soon” properties will be listed with a broker in the near future, while some properties are subject to listing agreements and cannot be shown until a specified date. There are good and valid reasons to market a home as “coming soon”. It can be a useful and legal tool in getting a home marketed and sold while a home is being prepared and staged to sell. It definitely can create interest and buzz and let the public know it is going to be available for sale.
As long as the client is making an informed decision and the broker is operating in the best interest of the client, all is fine. The client’s best interest is defined by the client, not the broker. “Coming soon” should not be used as a gimmick by the real estate agent to attract more buyers for their own gain or to try to sell to their own buyer-clients. Without a doubt, sellers/owners have the right to determine what signage goes in their yard. As long as they have been informed of the benefits and the disadvantages, and that there is no misrepresentation, then there is no issue. It is critically important that sellers understand the implications of various ways of marketing the property so that they can knowingly determine the choice that best serves their interests.
Real estate agents and brokers must place their clients’ interests above their own and act in the best interests of their clients at all times. Failing to do so and to not disclose the pros and cons of “Coming Soon” marketing can violate state real estate license laws, MLS rules, and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. Restricting the marketing of a seller’s property to only small networks or to national websites without also making it available through the MLS results in the property not being exposed to the broadest group of potential willing and able buyers. This may not provide the seller the best chance to attract offers at the highest price and best terms. For most sellers, getting the highest possible price with the best terms is in their “best interest” and exposing their property to the broadest market advances that interest.
Personally I am not a raving fan of “Coming Soon”. Yet I recognize there are instances where it is appropriate. It is my professional opinion, however, that when a home is introduced to the market, it should be done with great inclusive photos, complete descriptions and information, clean inside and out, and flawlessly groomed landscaping – available and open to all – to get the best results. First impressions have always and continue to matter the most.