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On Real Estate: When to Sell Your Home

Sell when that's what you need to do at that point in your life.

On Real Estate: When to Sell Your Home

Things are better in Ridgefield real estate—better because homes are selling, prices have stabilized and people are moving forward with their lives. At least that's how things look today. Tomorrow is anybody's guess.

And I really mean that it's a guess. Everyone wants to know if the worst is over, if values will start rising again, if the pace of sales will pick up to 2005 levels.

We all see the papers, websites and TV news reports. And just like the weather, every day the forecasts change. Prices stabilizing, prices rising, prices falling, foreclosures will double, mortgage rates will rise, unemployment will worsen, the recession is over, great time to buy…  Just like the stock market (or any other market), there are many pundits and forecasters but no one can really say what will happen.

Among all this uncertainty, here's my best advice for people considering selling their house: Don't try to time the market. Buy or sell when your life calls for it.

There are many life events that can make this "the right time," like a new baby, retirement, marriage/divorce, empty-nest or job transfer, for starters.

Be realistic and make every effort to use the best real estate agent, the best staging, the best marketing strategies, the best market knowledge and best negotiating to get the best deal you possibly can. Although sellers are always hopeful for a higher price, you've got to understand that the market will never let you get more for your house than it is worth.

Hanging on to a property hoping for better market conditions usually works against you. I saw a situation last year with someone who said he wanted to sell his home of nearly 20 years (he had accumulated a lot of equity in this particular house). It was time for him to sell and move on (empty nest) to a new chapter in his life but he refused to put a reasonable price on his house, preferring to believe that it was worth more than others in a declining market. Needless to say, he was frustrated it didn't sell, and it's on the market again this year.

If he had been realistic about his home's value, he would have sold it in 2009 and invested the proceeds in the stock market. Instead of frustration, this story would have ended much more happily, with a more than 50 percent return on his money!

Why this example? Because last year no one could know that the real estate market would continue its decline and that the stock market would recover so dramatically. Markets are uncertain by nature. For this seller, things could have worked out much better if he worked with the market instead of against it.

More often than not, when life says "it's time to move," that really does make it the best time for you to sell.

Rob Gutman is a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty and also writes the blog Real Estate Chocolate. You can contact him directly at rgutman@gmail.com.

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