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 noteworthy events that have happened. In many areas, the changes have favored sellers so far. Low inventory and interest rates continue to bring out buyers, leading to very fast sales.
For sellers, though, the “new normal” of 2020 might be short-term. What’s most important to focus on isn’t what has changed this year, but in the past several years. Here’s what to think about if you’re considering selling after owning your 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 — can often take on a yellow cast that can look dingy.
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 our pricing strategy (and the comps that inform pricing). However, timing is everything: If mortgage rates increase, more listings hit the market, or the economy shifts, prices can take a hit.
While we all wish we could have a crystal ball to see where the market is heading, focus instead 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 the cosmetic, favoring higher-tech options in the kitchen.
Further, there’s a dramatic change in how we live. Many workplaces have gone fully remote (indefinitely), making the home office more important than ever before. Features that were often considered “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.
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 or divorced, had children or became an empty nester, or your job has changed in a way that your commute no longer matters. Regardless of how the world has changed or what may change, the bottom line is that your home needs to fit your needs.