Should I Stay or Should I Go? Expert Tips on Home Selling

Colleen Oakley

should i sell the houseIt’s a question that plagues nearly every homeowner who’s ready to move on: When is the best time to put my house on the market?

And given that the housing bubble burst in 2008, another question inevitably surfaces: Just how much money can I expect to lose?

Well, it really depends on where you live, says Jed Kolko, chief economist and vice president of analytics at The good news is that, in most of the country, it’s a seller’s market. “Inventory is very tight, so sellers have little competition, while buyers are getting into bidding wars—and sometimes even facing off against investors,” says Kolko.

RELATED: What’s Hot and What’s Not: A Look at America’s Real Estate Markets

The bad news? Prices are still sluggish to rebound in some big cities, like Chicago, Philadelphia and Newark, New Jersey. That said, a few metropolises have fared better. “The biggest price increases have been in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Oakland,” says Kolko.

So how do you know if it’s a good time to sell where you live? Experts weigh in on three homeowners living in popular regions of the country who are currently debating whether to pack up or stay put.

“We’re ready to unload our rental property. Is now a good time to sell?”

—Mindy, Nashville, Tennessee

The Back Story: In 2004 we bought a 3-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath house for $446,000. It was the cheapest home in a really upscale neighborhood. In 2008 we were expecting another child and knew that we were outgrowing the house, so we listed it for $574,900 and went ahead and bought a bigger house for our expanding family—but the first house never sold. We took it off the market after eight months, and we have been renting it out ever since. The renters cover all of our expenses, but we’re definitely ready to unload the responsibility of owning two homes. Is now a good time to sell? We don’t really want to lose any money on it, so we’re wondering if waiting another year or two will allow us to sell for closer to what we paid for it. We have no idea what it would go for today, which is why we’re looking for advice!

  • rlpitts1913

    I can say with confidence to at least test the waters. If you don’t get the offer you want, then just sit tight for a little while longer. This was my plan… I bought my house in 2009… and decided to list it just this past March. I bought it for $117K… my realtor thought I wouldn’t get more than $115K… I disregarded his opinion, and we listed it at $137.500. On the 2nd day, I had an offer for $135,001. It’s all about timing, and you know when it’s time. My backup plan was that if I got an offer of less than $125K, then I would not sell. Lucky me, it’s a great time in Atlanta.

    • claudiajean1

      Is the Atlanta market doing well as a whole, or is it certain suburbs that are faring better?

      • rlpitts1913

        I am not exactly sure about the entire Atlanta market, but I live in the Gwinnett County suburbs, and I definitely think that that helped to play a part! In this day and age, it’s all about the school districts unless you’re going to pay for private schools.

  • Michael Sutila

    Go with your “gut” as this person did, not your realator’s advice.

  • Mercy Russell Hyde

    I disagree about the necessity of using a realtor to sell your house. I have sold three homes myself. You can buy the services of an appraiser (who will do the same comparisons that your realtor will and is apt to be used by the bank your buyer wants a mortgage from), a lawyer to help you write the contract and advise you about the offers you receive, and a Owner-Seller marketing service (Picket Fence Preview in my area) for far less than what a realtor will charge you (6% of the sale value of your home). If you follow real estate in your area and know the realistic value of your property, you can price it well with an appraisal. Also, your realtor will not do the work it takes to stage your home. You have to clean out the clutter, rearrange furniture and pictures, etc. You can also get the services of someone to help you with that. All for far less than 6% of the value of your home. A realtor can be great for buying a difficult property, or if you don’t have the confidence or are at a distance from your property.

  • robin

    I am surprised no suggested a rent to own proposal for any of these scenarios. Especially for the house in the desirable area. That should be a no brainer. I suggested it to a co-worker who had a condo sitting on the market for over a year. it was a perfect solution for him and the buyer who was unable to buy property the traditional route.