November 6th 2013
Q. My husband and I are thinking about selling our one-bedroom apartment and looking for something bigger. Should we list it now, before interest rates go up too much, or wait until the spring, when more people will be looking? As far as finding a two-bedroom apartment, will we be better off looking now or next year?
A. There’s rarely been a better time to sell–or a worse time to buy a two-bedroom. Here’s how our experts break it down:
Shirley Hackel, real estate broker, Warburg Realty: “While spring is the acknowledged traditional season for residential real estate, transactions occur year round….List now. There’s a real shortage of inventory, so why wait? If what you’re selling is a premium property, you’ll probably have the upper hand, so try to negotiate a flexible closing date with your purchaser, and maybe even terms for a post-closing possession, so you’re not homeless.
If you’re selling now, don’t wait another season, and certainly not another year, to make your next purchase. It’s too risky. I’ve been helping buyers and sellers since 1980 and have seen many cycles. In my view, it’s important to buy and sell in the same market. Rates and prices should remain level in the months ahead. You’d need a crystal ball to forecast much further down the road.”
Gordon Roberts, real estate broker, Warburg Realty: “There’s much to do to prepare a property for sale – from interviewing at least three different brokers, studying the market to see where your property might fit, getting an idea of a realistic price, and getting the property in tip-top shape, ready to show. If you and your husband are both working or have other demands on your time, this process in itself could take six weeks or more. So, if you ‘re just beginning to think about selling at the beginning of November, you’re already in the 2014 market. In terms of timing, I would try to get your apartment on the market in January and sold in time for you to buy in the spring.
That said, the concept of spring and autumn selling seasons is increasingly obsolete, especially in a market of tight inventory. There are buyers waiting in the wings for the ‘right thing’ to come along, or highly motivated because they’ve lost out on other properties they bid on. They (or their broker) have signed-up online for auto-notification of new listings that fit their criteria, and are ready to act regardless of season.
Historically, some sellers will temporarily withdraw their property from the market during the end-of-year holiday period — Thanksgiving through the New Year’s –simply because they don’t want to be bothered with showings. Buyer inquiries tend to taper off during that period, anyway. Conversely, as I’ve advised some buyers, the holiday period can be a good time to look for end-of-year deals with less competition.”