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 (so far). In Central Ohio, the conditions have favored sellers so far. Low inventory and interest rates continue to bring out buyers, leading to very fast sales and increasingly higher prices.
For sellers, though, the “new normal” of 2020 might be short-term. (I'll always will keep you in the loop on what you need to know.) What’s more 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 it for a few years:
If you still have the inspection report from when you purchased the home, it's time to dust it off and dive into it. (Contact the home inspector you used for a copy if you don't have one). If you haven't yet done so, tackle the items listed under Safety Concerns and be sure it's done by the appropriate professional. Next, look at the items that needed repaired or replaced. If you have some on your hands, consider doing them yourself (I recommend the following Youtube station for Instruction: Home Renovision DIY). The last category of maintenance should be ongoing during your homeownership. Examples of these items often include: air filters, light bulbs, sink drainstop...etc
If you haven't had your Heating, Ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC techinician) serviced in the last year, it's time to do it now. The same advice applies to your hot water tank (plumber). While they are there, be sure to get a quote for a new system if it's past 50% of its lifespan. If you plan to stay in your current home for more than that time, you should start saving or have that amount in your emergency fund.
A few years of weather also brings exterior problems, especially for your roof and gutter systems. Get those inspected and any issues addressed as soon as possible. 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 HVAC system.
Your Home’s Value Has Changed
Of course, this is where the 2020 market comes into play.
Since I've seen an uptick in buyers and lightning-quick sales, then you might be pleasantly surprised by my pricing strategy (and the comps that inform pricing). However, timing is everything: If mortgage rates increase, more listings hit the market or a shift in the economy happens, prices can take a hit (though I don't predict it).
While it would be nice to 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 (kitchens, bathrooms, and extra living space).
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.