First Time Home Seller Tips

As we enter the fall real estate season here in the Portland-Vancouver area, the market is prime for first time home sellers who are moving up to a larger home.  The market is always good for someone, and this demographic seems to be in the cat bird seat in Fall 2018.

Why is the market so good for first time sellers?  They likely bought close to the bottom of the market, circa 2010-2012, and have ridden the wave of rising property values.  So, when they sell, first time home sellers should have a nice chunk of equity.  And, that equity can be used for a hefty down payment on the next, bigger, better home.  In fact, your monthly mortgage payments may even stay relatively the same.

Two factors to address.  First, the market is stabilizing somewhat.  So, it is possible that sellers might bet a smidge less than they would have earlier this year.  This is somewhat of a good thing, because they have some wiggle room due to the all that equity, and they will likely be able to get a good deal when they purchase the next home.  So, while they may have gotten a little bit more for their home 9 months ago, they would have also been up against a lot of competition with other buyers when lining up the next home.  Second, they may net a hair less on the sale, but the purchase process will likely be more affordable and easier at this point in time.  You’re giving up a little one end, but should more than make up for it on the other end.

The biggest decision for first time home sellers is how to time the sale of the current home and purchase of the next one.  There is no right answer.  You just need to go with the path that suits your needs the best.  Here are the main options: (1) sell your current home, move into temporary housing, then have the luxury of time to buy the next home. (2) Buy your next home, move into it, and then sell your current home.  (3) Coordinate the sale of the current home and the purchase of the next home concurrently.  Most people go with option 3, but it can be tricky and really deserves its own blog!

With all this in mind, here are some additional tips for first time home sellers:

  1. PRICING: Accept the market for what it is today, and listen to feedback from the market.  Do not price your home based on what you might have gotten in 2017 or what you think you deserve.  Your Realtor will guide you on pricing and discuss comparable properties.  A comparable property is a similar nearby property that recently sold that the same buyer for your home may have reasonably been expected to consider.  So, if you have a 3-bedroom condo priced at $350k, the 5-bedroom single family home priced at $575k a few blocks away is not a comp.  If traffic to see your home is light, it is probably due to being overpriced.  
  2. THINK LIKE A BUYER.  You’ve bought a house, and may be currently getting ready to buy your next home.  So, turn that critical buyer’s eye on to your own home.  Would you buy your own home based on (1) current condition? (2) pricing? (3) marketing and photos?
  3. SECURITY. People are going to be coming through your home.  Make sure to lock up anything that can be easily pilfered, especially anything sentimental or irreplaceable.  Always lock up firearms and prescription medications (especially painkillers and anxiety medications).  Neutralize the home as much as possible, so people cannot glean personal information about you—tone down anything out in the open that give away information about your: profession, religion, family status.  
  4. FLEXIBILITY. Keep your expectations realistic, especially in this changing market.  Houses are taking a bit longer to sell and bidding wars are becoming more rare.  Keep your schedule flexible to allow for showings.  And, be careful of securing your next home if your current home is still available.  

What questions do you have about selling your first home in today's market?