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Deciding to sell - things to do, things to not doDeciding to sell your home is not always as simple as it may seem. Home buyers wonder why there’s so little inventory. Home owners know that selling is complex, impacts many other decisions,  requires a lot of planning, work, and foresight.

First steps in evaluating your options

There are things that we real estate professionals cannot weigh in on. We are strictly prohibited from giving tax or legal advice – those are licensed professionals, attorneys and CPAs. Before deciding to sell, it may be a good idea to talk with your lawyer or tax professional to learn the implications of selling. In many cases, there will be capital gains taxes to consider, among other things.

Another first step will be finding out what your home is worth right now. If you’d like a “sight unseen” ballpark valuation, you can use this link: What’s my home worth?

To get something precise, we’d need to see it (or at least get info from you o n the updating or need for repairs). If you want an in person visit to your home, please email me at and provide the details. This offer is only for home owners who have lived in the home for at least 6 months and for homes not currently on the market (or listed with another agent).

Getting in on the white hot market

If a move is in your near future, say 1 – 3 years out at the most, you may be deciding to sell now because the market conditions are so much in the sellers’ favor. (I have been selling homes since 1993 and have never seen it so good for sellers.)

It’s unlikely that this climate will last several years out due to inflation and the rising interest rates which are likely to accompany it. It’s easiest for those who already own their next home to move on, since they don’t have to worry about selling and not being able to buy what they want – essentially, getting priced out of the market if appreciation keeps up at the current pace.

It’s more challenging for those who need to sell to buy. Some strategies will work well – check out the options at Sell one home and buy another.

Deciding to sell during the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has made the choice to sell and move crystal clear for many:

  • those who can now work from anywhere
  • those who want to be closer to family (especially to help out relatives, whether with young kids or elderly parents)
  • those who need more room (bringing family members in to live with them, finding a place at home to work)
  • those who’ve suddenly got a lot of equity and want to make it go further by moving out of the area

Because inventory is critically low, right now we are not advising people to stay in their homes when they are being shown. Well priced listings are getting a flood of home buyers and their Realtors through – sometimes showings are booked nonstop every half hour, all day, during daylight hours. It is miserable to be in the home that way. It will seriously impact your sale price if you do not allow motivated buyers to see your home in a timely fashion, though.

Ideally, if sellers will fully vacate the property and get the home professionally staged, it will sell faster and for more money. It will look better, and it will be uncrowded, which is helpful both for the pre-sale inspections but also for consumers who want to see what they are purchasing. In my experience over the last year, the majority of homes are now being sold vacant and staged.  (See our article: Should you move out before you sell?)

Perhaps even more importantly, if a seller moves to a rental, there is less exposure to the virus. (If you do fully move out, do talk with your insurance agent since some companies will change their coverage. Some do not count it as vacant if there’s staging there, and it is furnished, though.)

If fully vacating is not feasible, the next best option is to get the home as decluttered and show-ready as possible (for 99% of us, that means storing a lot of possessions off site), secure valuables (off site in a safety deposit box is best), and leave town for a week or so to allow unimpeded showings. At the end of the vacation, if everything is well executed, it should be time to review offers. Then you’re only living in the home during the escrow. You’re not likely to net as much this way, since most of us don’t live in homes that look as good as a staged home, but it may be less stressful in terms of paying a mortgage on one place while renting another.

Deciding to sell: what not to do

First, don’t be fast talked into signing a listing agreement. There are some real estate sales people who are very practiced in the art of moving people from inquiring about listing with an agent to getting them to sign – almost before the home owner knows what happened. Most Realtors aren’t like that, but some are, so please remember that you are the one deciding to sell – or not – and with whom.

Second, don’t assume that sales are done the same way today as when you purchased the home. A lot has changed in the last 10 years! Allow the Realtor(s) you speak with to update you on the process, the market conditions, their services, etc. Or do research before you speak with them. I have a ton of info for seller tips on my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog, and you don’t need to register to see any of it. Be in a “learning mindset” on all of it.

Third, don’t think you have to do all of it yourself. Fearing the workload can keep potential sellers from moving ahead. That is just overwhelming! There are services to help with decluttering (and electing what can be donated, sold, or trashed). There are others to help fix up the home as wanted or needed to maximize your return on the sale. Most real estate professionals can help connect you with those who can make moving or prepping your home to sell easier and faster.

Finally, if the finances of pre-sale prep work have you worried, or present a stumbling block, please be aware that Sereno has loan programs that may be helpful. Clair and I are delighted to  work with a solutions oriented brokerage! Have a look at the Sereno loan programs page.