How to know when to sell your home


As home prices continue to decline, prospective sellers may be wondering, is now the time to sell, before prices get any lower? Here's excellent advice on how to sell your home in a bad housing market from CNN personal finance editor and author Gerri Willis.

How to know when to sell your home

When people say that the housing bubble has burst, does that mean it is a bad time to sell your home? Or should you get out of your home now before it gets worse? Here are a few tips to help you make that decision:

Look at market conditions.

  • Timing the prices in a housing market is difficult.
  • Unless you really have to sell right now then it is best to probably wait until the economy turns around.
  • The number of buyers is down and there is a ton of inventory you will have to compete with.

Determine the right price for your home.

  • If you have to sell your home right now, determining the right price will be the most important decision you make.
  • You need to look at comparable houses in your area to determine the price.
  • The key is to determine what are they selling for per square foot so you can apply it to your own home price.

Stage your home for the sale.

  • Staging your house is also very important when selling your home, but you don’t need to hire a stager to do it.
  • Start with the exterior and make sure that trees and shrubs are trimmed and the lawn is clean.
  • Inside your home you want to neutralize the colors of the walls and remove all of your personal effects.
  • You want people looking at your home to see the house as their own.
  • Before you put it on the market try to remove one piece of furniture from every room to help it look clean and open.

What if you are selling your home from out of state?

  • If you’re moving out of state and you are having a hard time selling your home you might ask your employer if they are willing to take on the cost of your old home.
  • Another option is to rent your home out and allow a local manager to take care of it.

Should you hire a real estate agent or sell your house yourself?

  • Selling your home on your own can be very tough.
  • A professional real estate agent can help you with all the necessary steps and give you advice on the market.
  • If you are selling your home without an agent then you should price the home under market value.
  • The upside to selling your home on your own is that you can save on the commission rate an agent charges.

Listing your home on the internet

  • Utilizing the internet to sell your home is very important whether you are selling it on your own or with an agent.
  • Make sure the pictures of your home that you are putting on the web are fabulous.
  • You can also make a 360 degree video of your home and you must be sure all the information on your home is current and up to date on the internet.

ROBYN: I’m Robyn Moreno for The housing bubble has burst – we hear that all the time. But does that mean that this is a bad time to sell your home, or should you get out now before the situation gets worse? Here to help us know when to sell a home is CNN’s personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, whose new book is called Home Rich: Increasing the Value of the Biggest Investment of Your Life. We’re in a recession; the market is really volatile. Should I sell my house now before the prices slip any further?

GERRI:   It’s really hard to time the prices in the housing market. And I have to tell you: unless you absolutely have to sell right now, I would stay out of the game. It’s really tough right now. There aren’t a lot of buyers; there is a ton of inventory you’ll be competing with. If you can stay out of the market, do so.

ROBYN: What if I need to sell my house? How can I determine the best price?

GERRI:   Well it is all about price. That is the most critical decision you’re going to make. What you need to do is get cops. What are other houses like yours that are aimed at the same market, what are they selling for? And what are they selling at per square foot? That’s the calculation you need to make, so that you can apply that to your own home price.

ROBYN: Is there anything that I can do to make my house look a bit more attractive, especially if it’s in a weak housing market?

GERRI:   Absolutely. You definitely want to make sure that you stage your house, on your own. You know, people pay experts thousands of dollars to do this; you don’t have to do that. Start with the exterior; make sure that trees and shrubs are trimmed, and the, and the lawn is clean and pristine, that you have flowers. Paint the front door a bright color. And then once you’re inside, neutralize the colors of the wall and then I hate to say this, but you really need to bring out all the things that make the house your own, like pictures of the family, trophies, all that stuff should go out because when people come to this house, you want them to see this house as their own. One more thing; right before you put it on the market, take one piece of furniture out of each and every room. You don’t know how cluttered your house looks to other people. So you definitely want to make it look clean and open when people start looking at it.

ROBYN: What if I have to move to another state, and I just cannot sell my home? What should I do?

GERRI:   Well, this is a toughie. If you’re getting a new job, one thing you might ask your new employer, is are they willing to take on the cost of your old home. Some folks will do that. It’s unusual. You can also rent your place out and have a local manager take care of it for you. But again, these are expensive options.

ROBYN: What are the pros and cons of actually selling my house on my own?

GERRI:  Well, it’s tough. Particularly in today’s market, I would actually want a pro at my side to take all the necessary steps, give me advice about the market place. If you do it on your own, you’re really going to want to price it under market, make it appealing to people that they’re definitely going to come in and take a look.

ROBYN: Is there any advantages for me to sell my own home? I save, you know, some money on commission.

GERRI:  Yeah, in a, in a normal market it's not a bad idea. And there’s some parts of the country where it’s really common that people sell their houses on their own, like Michigan is a big FiSBO market. But for a lot of us, I think, we want to have somebody at our side to guide us through the process.

ROBYN: And what about selling it on the Internet? Because I know there’s a lot of sites where people can actually sell their home on the internet. And would you advise a first-time seller to do something like this?

GERRI:  I, you know, the internet is always an important part of the strategy for any home seller, at any time. I think you have to make sure that, whether you’re, you’re doing it on your own or you’re getting help from someone else, you have to make sure the pictures you put on the web of your home have to be fabulous. You’re best to doing one of the 360 videos; that’s a big help. You know, you have to make sure that all the information is up to date and it’s clear and complete as possible.

ROBYN: Thank you so much, Gerri Willis, for teaching us how to sell our house in this really tough market.

GERRI:  My pleasure.

ROBYN: I’m Robyn Moreno for

meet theexpert
  • Gerri Willis

    Gerri Willis Author and Fox Financial Correspondent Gerri Willis is the host of The Willis Report, a primetime program on Fox Business Network. She's the author of two business books, “The Smart Money Guide to Real Estate Investing” and “Home Rich.” more about this expert »

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