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Old 09-30-2015, 06:48 PM   #21
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February to June or so is the best (agree with W2R). March is OK, but February puts you in the earlier time frame. After June is harder since lots of people want to buy and move in and get settled before school starts.

That said, I've bought and sold houses during winter. If someone needs a house, they need a house. During winter there are fewer houses on the market so your house might get a look when it might not do as well against competition in the spring. That said, there are more buyers in the spring.

I'm not convinced that you necessarily get a higher price in the spring, more that it may sell more quickly.
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Old 09-30-2015, 06:52 PM   #22
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I wouldn't think the price increase for waiting until spring, if any, would be worth the holding costs, mortgage or opportunity.
+1 Holding costs are a big consideration. We received a disappointing offer for a private transaction in the fall but after I took what I thought we would realistically get for proceeds of we waited until the spring and subtracted brokerage commissions and the holding costs for 4-5 months (taxes, insurance, heat, snow removal, electricity, etc.) the offer was about the same amount so I decided that a bird in the hand was worth the one in the bush and we accepted the offer and closed in a few weeks.

I retired a few weeks after that.
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Old 10-02-2015, 01:18 PM   #23
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We listed our house in Chicagoland at the end of last month and sold it the next day at a price over list with no contingencies. The house was priced correctly in what is a very slow market. We have always maintained it well, and painted most of the public rooms in what is apparently a hot color. It went to a relo buyer who doesn't have any kids at home, even though it is a great house for kids.
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Old 10-02-2015, 02:56 PM   #24
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+2 on Holding Costs. Some of us do not know what those expenses are (we were quite surprised last time) but it's important to factor that into the "when to sell" equation. A big issue to insurance companies (every one I have heard of) is that someone must "live" in the house at least X number of days in Y months (or whatever.) Before mom's house sold, I would sleep in the house once each 30 days to validate the insurance. It wasn't ready to sell anyway, but that way, we were covered.

Ko'olau's rules for a quick house sale:

1) Price it right. Actually better to "under price" than over price as a house sitting is a losing proposition. Once you have to drop the price, EVERYONE knows and figure you will drop it some more (see "Holding Costs" above as well.)

2) The house MUST BE in MOVE-IN-READY condition. There should not be one blade of grass out of place, not one frayed curtain, not a single drop of oil in the drive or garage, not a dirty window, no old toilet seats, no rust stains, no carpet stains, no water stains, no musty smell, etc., etc., etc. Do not "store" ANY of your "STUFF" in the house. Store it off-site if you must but get it out unless it is part of your staging theme.

3) "Stage" the house. No one has imagination anymore. Show what the house "should" look like, but do NOT over do it. Have a bed and a chest and chair in the bedrooms, a table/chairs and a lamp in the dinging room, a couple of easy chairs and a coffee table and a lamp or two in the living room, patio furniture (if seasonal) on the patio, etc. etc. Make it look like a show home and it will sell like one. Staging "props" do not need to be expensive - just make certain they look expensive, fit the staging "theme", are reasonably "conservative." Be ready to let the new owner "buy" all the stuff as-is (don't use your grandmother's antique rocker in your staging - go to resale shops or use your own stuff you will be glad to part with.)

Using this set of guidelines, we've sold (i.e., gotten offer, and ultimately escrowed) in no more than 4 days in a typical market and less than a month at Christmas of '81 - anyone recall the housing market of '81/'82?

As always, YMMV, so good luck!
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Old 10-02-2015, 03:08 PM   #25
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"Stage" the house. No one has imagination anymore. Show what the house "should" look like, but do NOT over do it.
Amen. If you have no clue what buyers are expecting, watch some HGTV. Nearly any show will do because they all end with a perfectly-staged house and buyers walking through admiring the superficial stuff like the wall paint. BTW, one woman actually complained about the stainless-steel appliances and said white appliances were making a comeback. You heard it here first.
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Old 10-02-2015, 05:05 PM   #26
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Or, you can just have unbelievably good luck like I did, and even in the South manage to sell a professionally cleaned but completely empty house in 4 days too, like I did in July.

Honestly if that buyer hadn't jumped on it, I don't know if I could have sold it in a reasonable time or not. But he did so that was either luck or expertise on my part I suppose. Who knows?
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Old 10-02-2015, 05:35 PM   #27
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Honestly if that buyer hadn't jumped on it, I don't know if I could have sold it in a reasonable time or not. But he did so that was either luck or expertise on my part I suppose. Who knows?
That's how we felt about it at the time when FIL's house sold. He was in the nursing home racking up bills at the rate of $9k/month and was about two months from running out of cash. That it sold so quickly was a huge relief. Medicaid would have paid the nursing home but then they put a lien on the house, a complication to a sale we didn't want to have to deal with.
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Old 10-02-2015, 05:56 PM   #28
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I don't like financial advisors or market timing for securities but I would never sell a house without the best, most local realtor I could find. Stager too. I don't want to guess when the best time to sell is, I want to KNOW, and an experienced realtor knows the right time and what kind of buyer your house will attract. We've done it 3 times now and those pros more than paid for themselves.


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Old 10-03-2015, 07:56 AM   #29
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Yes, the house needs to be in move-in condition., and it must be priced competitively. The first is something I can (and will) make happen, the second is a bit more challenging, but the intention.

My first reaction is to put the house on the market as soon as it is ready. Like any investment decision, once it is made, not carrying it out makes it become a problem, another worry in the back of my mind.

On the other hand, listing it at a time when there are few buyers, especially as the holiday season nears, may give it the appearance of "difficult to sell" come next February if a reasonable offer is not immediate. I'm not looking for the highest possible price, but I would like to get fair market value (whatever that is).

On my list of to-do's is to speak with the insurer, although I do not anticipate any issue. Nothing will happen until the current resident moves out, and that is already taking longer than I anticipated.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:21 AM   #30
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A tangential question, if I may. What is a reasonable range of time between accepting an offer and actually having to vacate? Is it common to be able to stay a few months and pay rent, if needed?

DW has to work until mid June, but I'd like to get our house on the market in the spring.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:30 AM   #31
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A tangential question, if I may. What is a reasonable range of time between accepting an offer and actually having to vacate? Is it common to be able to stay a few months and pay rent, if needed?

DW has to work until mid June, but I'd like to get our house on the market in the spring.
My understanding is that if you ask for something like that, it is likely to "queer the deal" for some buyers. What a lot of people do instead, is to have their stuff put in PODS storage, and then make other arrangements (such as renting a furnished apartment on a monthly basis), for the interval. When you are ready to move, your PODS can be delivered to your new home and you are all set.

The buyer states a date for closing in his offer/counteroffer and I think around here it's usually 6 weeks to two months. The buyers do a "walk through" a few days before closing to make sure the condition of the home is what they want upon possession of it. Generally the seller is expected to be completely vacated by that time. Then they get the keys at closing.

If you put it on the market on, say, March 1st, and it sells instantly, it might have a closing date of May 1st. I'd suggest storing your stuff in PODS and staying in an Extended Stay America or some such place for a month or so.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:33 AM   #32
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Is there a best time of year to sell a house? I'm having this conversation right now as we get DM's home ready to market. It's a small 3 bedrooms and close to the local high school. The realtors we've interviewed think we should list is now (not a surprise), a realtor friend of my brother told him this type of house sells better in early spring when many more families are looking to relocate. Better, as in higher price.

Just wondering what folks here think.
Wherever I have lived (west coast, mid-west, and east coast) your brother's friend would have been correct. His observation has held true for any house we have either bought or sold.........FWIW.........

Good luck with this project!

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Old 10-09-2015, 06:07 PM   #33
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Just thought I'd update this thread after meeting with some realtors.

One suggested a few repairs, clean and paint, take out the clutter, keep the house furnished (staged). Put on the market now.

Another suggested a fairly long list of changes (easily $1-2K), clean, remove all the furniture (too outdated). Put on the market now.

They both are large and successful realtors. It's no surprise they suggest putting the house on the market now, it's a slow time of year for them. I am surprised that the two have such opposite views on touching up, maintenance, and staging.
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Old 10-09-2015, 07:18 PM   #34
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Just thought I'd update this thread after meeting with some realtors.

One suggested a few repairs, clean and paint, take out the clutter, keep the house furnished (staged). Put on the market now.

Another suggested a fairly long list of changes (easily $1-2K), clean, remove all the furniture (too outdated). Put on the market now.

They both are large and successful realtors. It's no surprise they suggest putting the house on the market now, it's a slow time of year for them. I am surprised that the two have such opposite views on touching up, maintenance, and staging.
That's a tough decision. I like the second realtor's approach, but who's to say which realtor is better, or if that approach is better? Maybe they are thinking of marketing the house to different subsets of the buyer population.

If I was in your situation, I think I'd ditch logic and go with the realtor that my gut told me was best. Then I'd do exactly what he says to do.
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Old 10-10-2015, 08:45 AM   #35
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That's a tough decision. I like the second realtor's approach, but who's to say which realtor is better, or if that approach is better? Maybe they are thinking of marketing the house to different subsets of the buyer population.
Neither has articulated this, but this is a good point, that they are most likely thinking of different segments of potential buyers.

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If I was in your situation, I think I'd ditch logic and go with the realtor that my gut told me was best. Then I'd do exactly what he says to do.
Good suggestion. This is what I will do.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:00 AM   #36
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On the other hand, listing it at a time when there are few buyers, especially as the holiday season nears, may give it the appearance of "difficult to sell" come next February if a reasonable offer is not immediate.
+1 (my view)
I am still seeing the house on my street with the sale sign (@ 48 days). It's priced right but just not getting sold.

On the other hand ...
Have you asked the realtor about the chances of getting a good price and closing it at this time of the year? Maybe the realtor(s) can put your worries to rest. Especially since the real estate market is so localized.

I was curious about a topic mentioned by another poster, the staging. Is this worth it and how does one decide? Are there specific price points, like house price above $500K or $ 1M etc where it makes more sense? My house costs nothing like that, and I have never considered it.
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Old 10-22-2015, 10:36 AM   #37
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To update, I interviewed another realtor, and the contrast could not be greater. Made me wonder if they were reading this thread. Their guidance: the market to sell is stronger in February / March, especially this house (small 3 bedroom) because the greatest prospect segment is families with school-age children. Staging helps but more important is to have the house in good repair, clean, move-in condition. Numerous improvements suggested by others would be nice to have but the cost would not be completely recovered. Commission is also lower.

One more interview to go.
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Old 10-23-2015, 05:50 PM   #38
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I was curious about a topic mentioned by another poster, the staging. Is this worth it and how does one decide? Are there specific price points, like house price above $500K or $ 1M etc where it makes more sense? My house costs nothing like that, and I have never considered it.
Staging can take many forms. At its extreme, they move out all your stuff and put in shiny new furniture and gewgaws from someplace trendy. Our realtor brought in someone she hired at her own expense who made suggestions about rearranging furniture, taking some out (they do that a out), and "editing" the books in our bookcases so there were wide spaces to put some of the decorative items we owned. We stashed a lot in the garage, which was OK with her. They also have you remove all family photos and any religious items and fill all the bathrooms with fluffy white towels. As DH said, make it look like "no one ever eats, sleeps or goes to the bathroom here".

It can also include putting fresh mulch in flower beds (to cover the weeds), repainting a front door or light fixtures so a prospective buyer has good first impressions, and a whole laundry list of projects with varying price tags. My advice: go for the cheap and cosmetic.
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Old 10-24-2015, 02:59 PM   #39
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I was curious about a topic mentioned by another poster, the staging. Is this worth it and how does one decide? Are there specific price points, like house price above $500K or $ 1M etc where it makes more sense? My house costs nothing like that, and I have never considered it.
As mentioned by athena53, staging has different varieties. At the last house we sold (around the $500k level), we did spend about $2k on staging, although some of that was to the stager for things not really staging.

First, they went through our house and told us what things to take out of the house and store. This was useful although less useful for us than some people because we knew a lot of this from past experience. They rearranged some of our furniture for us.

In our case, we needed to do some painting and other minor upgrades in the house and they helped us find someone to do it and actually went to places like Home Depot and bought window coverings for a couple of rooms and bought light fixtures, etc. This was just a convenience for us as DH and I were still working full-time there. If we hadn't paid them to do this the staging cost would have been left.

They also brought some items to our house. For example, we had a bedroom with no furniture in it and they brought in a bed and some other items for that room. Also, they brought some pictures and other decorative items for the house and a couple of other furniture items. In our case, this was all fairly minimal and was part of the flat fee. If extensive, sometimes people rent the furniture.

On the most minor end of staging, we once had our real estate agent's wife (who was an agent who worked mostly with buyer's) come in and spend a couple of hours going room by room with us through the house. She told us what to put away and what to get instead. Example, on a wall in the bathroom, she told us to put a small picture at a particular place. Or, she said to replace a hanging light fixture, etc. There was no charge to us for doing this and it was incredibly useful. We did everything she suggested and the house sold to the second buyer who saw it on the first day it was listed.
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Old 10-26-2015, 06:44 AM   #40
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Thanks for the info on staging, athena53 and Katsmeow.
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