I’ve Owned My Home For A Few Years: Now What?
It’s not going to be news to anyone who plans to sell their home this year: The 2020 real estate market has been shaken up completely by all the crazy events that have happened (so far). In our market, the changes have favored sellers. Low inventory and interest rates continue to bring out buyers, leading to very fast sales.
For sellers, it's hard to say how long this “new normal” of 2020 might last (Don't worry, we'll always keep you in the loop so you know when the market starts to shift). Since no one has a crystal ball to know what exactly the future holds (wouldn't that be nice?), we recommend not getting so caught up in the major shifts this of this year that you lose sight of the general market trends that tend to hold true even in unpredictable times. Here’s what to think about if you’re considering selling after owning a home for a few years:
The Time To Address Home Maintenance Is Now
The five year mark tends to be when key maintenance issues pop up.
For instance, if you haven’t touched your HVAC system in this time period, it might already be due for replacement (or at least significant repairs). Water heaters are another likely candidate for replacement, especially if there have been significant changes to code requirements.
A few years of weather also brings exterior problems, especially for your roof and gutter systems. Inside, wear and tear can be noticeable, particularly for flooring. If you have wall-to-wall carpet, expect to change it out for a fresher look. Paint colors — particularly beige hues and light neutrals — often take on a yellow cast that can look dingy over time.
Prioritize projects according to your budget and the severity. A buyer can overlook less-than-perfect paint, but not a leaky roof or failing AC system.
Your Home’s Value Has Changed
Of course, this is where the 2020 market comes into play.
Since we've seen an uptick in buyers and lightning-quick sales, you might be pleasantly surprised by your home's current market value. However, timing is everything. If mortgage rates increase, more listings hit the market, or a shift in the economy happens, prices can take a hit.
While we are constantly reading the market to help clients predict what's coming next, 2020 has shown us that life is often unpredictable. Our advice is in the midst of uncertainty, focus on what you can control to positively impact your home’s value. No matter where the market is headed, buyers are always interested in a home that is well-maintained and staged to show off its best features. While you’re addressing the aforementioned “five-year” issues, take the time to do a thorough decluttering (rent a storage unit if necessary) and ask us about a staging strategy.
Buyer’s Tastes Have Changed
In terms of home design, what may have caught your eye a few years back might already look out of date.
Trends have shifted dramatically for interior design as younger buyers enter the market. For instance, dark cabinetry and appliances have made a surprising comeback. Buyers also have stronger opinions about appliances that go beyond cosmetics, favoring higher-tech options in the kitchen.
There's also (obviously) been a dramatic change in how we live. Many workplaces have gone fully remote, making the home office more important than ever before. Features that were often considered a “bonus” — media rooms and outdoor entertaining spaces — take on a whole new meaning after the experience of spending months cooped up indoors.
The Real Question: Are You Ready?
Purely looking at the numbers, five years is when you might notice that you have more equity in your home. The more equity you have, the less of an impact closing costs may have on your financial situation should you choose to sell.
However, the biggest indicator that you’re ready to sell goes beyond a calculation. Meaning: A lot can change in five years, especially when it comes to your life. You might have gotten married, had children, become an empty nester, changed jobs, or at the very least changed (or eliminated) your commute. Regardless of how the world has changed or what changes are on the horizon, the bottom line is that your home needs to fit your needs.