One of the most common questions that would-be sellers ask us is when is the best time to sell? The questions vary but generally sound something like this: â€œIsnâ€™t it best to sell in a sellerâ€™s market?â€ â€œNow that the market has shifted to a balanced/slight buyerâ€™s market isnâ€™t that a horrible time to sell?â€ Actually, if you have a choice (and often we have no choice â€“ selling is often driven by circumstances not under our control) selling in a balanced market may be one of the best times to sell. Here are some of the reasons we believe sellers should consider this time to get their homes on the market:
1. Price appreciation flattens in a flat market. We know this sounds counter-intuitive but bear with us as we explain this. Prices are always a trailing indicator in housing. This means that anywhere from 9-18 months after something happens in the market â€“ it is reflected in prices. The market started shifting away from a sellerâ€™s market in June 2013 when buyer demand began withering. Pricing runs on fumes for a while before evaporating. That â€œfumeâ€ stage is a sweet spot for sellers because prices are gently floating up, word is not really out on the street that the shift has occurred, and the big future price appreciation that sellers would miss out on if they sell in a sellerâ€™ s market – is not being missed. In other words, when prices go flat â€“ sellers are selling at a peak.
2. In a balanced market, builders remain conservative, adding only a trickle of new homes. In a strong sellerâ€™s market, builders â€“ just like any other seller â€“ want to cash in on the strong appreciation. This starts adding more and more supply of homes â€“ which as we observed in 2005 â€“ and can create a bubble that â€œpopsâ€ when supply becomes glutted. As we have seen, recovery can be painful and slow after that pop.
3. In a strong sellers market, successful sellers become â€œhomelessâ€ when they are unable to find a home to buy. Sellers who are buying locally, enjoy the power a sellerâ€™s market provides them as a seller, but then find themselves stressed and panicked when trying to buy in that same market. This can lead to poor buying decisions and huge concessions to obtain a home.
4. Less problems with low appraisals. An often overlooked problem in a strong sellerâ€™s market is the financing piece. Lenders base all their numbers on the appraised value of a home. In a rising market, prices begin escalating over yesterdayâ€™s pricing. While sellers often get a higher than expected yield at point of contract, they can find themselves giving that money back to the buyer when the appraisal comes in low or risk the transaction cancelling.
5. In a balanced market there are still enough buyers around to still sell without great difficulty. A balanced market means just that -buyers and sellers are in equal supply. So although the â€œfeeding frenzyâ€ may not be present, the buyers are still viewing and buying properly marketed properties in sufficient quantity to make selling a relatively easy and fast process.
How long will our market stay balanced? That is the million dollar question. At the moment, we see nothing dramatically pulling the market one way or another . But as Sir Isaac Newton so brilliantly said â€œ I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.â€ As always, we will do our best to keep you informed on the Valleyâ€™s volatile housing market.