Get Your Home Ready To Sell
l Edge, mow and fertilize the lawn. Reseed sparse areas.
l Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees. Cut back overgrown shrubbery.
l Reseal cracks in foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios. Power-wash the exterior.
l Clean and align gutters and downspouts; clean the chimney.
l Remove oil stains from driveway and garage. Keep walks and driveway swept or free of ice.
l Wash the windows inside and out.
l Hire a cleaning service to thoroughly clean the interior.
l Paint the walls and ceilings off white or beige.
l Repair cracks, holes and damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.
l Replace damaged windowpanes, moldings and woodwork.
l Repair drippy faucets and showerheads. Unclog slow drains.
l Shampoo carpets, scrub and wax linoleum or wood floors.
l Clean out the fireplace and lay some logs in it.
l Mend torn screens. Clean out all window tracks.
| Freshen up the curb appeal with a new door mat and wreath on the door.
l Replace burned-out light bulbs. Use brighter light bulbs.
l Renail creaking boards or stairs; lubricate squeaking doors.
l Clean all appliances (especially refrigerator and oven).
l Replace old toilet seats and shower curtains.
l Clear all cobwebs from corners and doorways.
l Wash all light switches, handrails and doorknobs.
What an amazing year 2015 was for home sellers, and 2016 promises to be even better. By December of 2015, with 5.26 million sales, we had seen a more robust housing market than we've seen since 2006. In fact, as of early 2016, America's housing market had spent 43 consecutive months as a seller's market. Lawrence Yun, the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) chief economist chalks up the heavy sales volume to "the prospect of higher mortgage rates in coming months and warm November and December weather."
Get Very Excited if You Plan to Sell Your Home This Year
The combination of high demand for homes and shrinking inventories produces a seller's market and typically signals rising home prices. While many forecasters expect home prices to continue rising this year, they caution that they won't climb as quickly or as much as they did last year. "The NAR is calling for a 4.4 percent increase in existing home prices this year and 3.4 percent in 2017; other economists and strategists also put 2016 price growth in the 4 percent to 5 percent range," claims NAR's Adam DeSanctis.
In addition, inventories of available homes rose slightly last month. Whether or not this signals a trend toward a more balanced housing market remains to be seen. So, yes - although it sounds trite - the best time to sell your home is right now, while inventory is still low. If you will be selling a home priced in the low-to-middle price tier for your market, expect it to go quickly and for top dollar. You will have little competition and the demand in this price range is strong, according to Shu Chen of CoreLogic.
While this type of market makes it easy for home sellers to become complacent, if you expect to get top dollar for your home and want it to sell quickly, do the work required to ensure that it's in move-in condition.
Buying a Home This Year?
While it may seem like there isn't a whole lot for homebuyers to get excited about this year, there is one bonus for you: low interest rates. In fact, according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, 30-year mortgage rates fell in April 2016 to an average of 3.59 percent across the country, down from 3.65 percent the same time last year.
Combine the low rates with more relaxed lending guidelines and there is definitely good news for the 2016 homebuyer. Lower mortgage rates mean a lower monthly payment, which means you have more purchasing power, and that additional power can "mean the difference between buying a 2-bedroom home versus a 3-bedroom one; between buying a home with large closets versus small closets; and, between buying an upgraded home versus a dated one," according to Dan Green at The Mortgage Reports.
Another reason to get excited: It appears that those deep-pocketed investors who pay all cash for homes have left the market. Last year, 33.9 percent of all home sales were to cash buyers, the lowest rate since 2008, according to Molly Boesel with CoreLogic. While there is still plenty of competition out there from other homebuyers for homes in good locations and in decent condition, the playing field is a bit more level.
Yes, there is still a lot of competition from other homebuyers. This makes it more important than ever to have all your ducks in a row before making an offer on a property. Ensure you know exactly how much you can spend and that you've obtained a preapproval letter from your lender. Make your offer stand out from the others by keeping it lean and mean, with the shortest time periods for contingencies as possible. While we're still in a seller's market, come in with your highest and best offer. The market moves too quickly right now to assume the seller will negotiate over price.
Finally, if you've been sitting on the fence waiting for prices to come down, jump off. Home prices are currently rising twice as quickly as incomes, and it doesn't appear the situation will change in the near future.