In this time of supreme uncertainty, how can sellers decide what’s the best thing to do now or next with their real estate?
Real estate sellers are trying to guess what the future holds as much as everyone else:
• When they are wrong, sellers may put their home and other real estate at risk.
• When they are right, sellers may add wealth and security.
Talking to local real estate professionals has always been a great way for sellers to start when charting plans for the future. This is still a good launching pad, even when no one, including professionals, currently knows what is coming next. However:
• Real estate professionals have the facts about what has happened locally since March 2020 and what was going on before that.
• Choose the right real estate professional and you’ve found someone who is well-connected locally and through the industry to ensure you learn about current key trends in time to take advantage of them.
• Real estate professionals are committed to filtering pressures and impact of the pandemic and other social and economic changes through their real estate lens to make sense for each individual property owner-client.
Five Questions for a Fresh Seller Perspective on NOW & NEXT
Aim to achieve clarity about what you can live with and without.
#1. What can you see ahead?
Project and expect the worst—What exactly would that mean to you?—or project and expect the best—How could that materialize for you? Your choice.
In your world, you control some things and not others. Direct your future where you have more control and the outcome may involve more of what you’d favor, but it may also be more of the same. Select a path less traveled, with a move outside your comfort zone, and risks may increase, but benefits may also take a giant step forward.
Your attitude and stage of life determine what the future holds for you. Glass-half-full thinkers may look for some good to come out of the pandemic’s interruption of life and career; glass-half-empty thinkers may concentrate on what has been lost or disrupted so looking forward may mean settling for less. Couples have the potential to complement each other with their attitudes and recovery strategies. What would you like to see ahead? What steps can you take in that direction?
#2. How will you emerge financially from the pandemic?
Even if you’ve managed to hold onto status quo through the pandemic, there’s no guarantee that will continue. Those who’ve had a tough haul so far may find things leveling off. Regardless of your path to date, it may be too soon to forecast how you’ll emerge financially. If pressures mount, ask your real estate professional and your financial advisor how selling now—before the pandemic is over—might improve your financial situation and lifestyle, but move with caution.
Your biggest financial asset may be your earning ability. Post-pandemic job security and business sustainability may not yet be evident. Dramatic change is to be expected in some areas and industries. The restaurant, hospitality, and travel industries were hard-hit by the pandemic while other sectors thrived or at least chugged on. Which industries does your earning power revolve around? Can online learning top-up your earning credentials?
Select your own track. Sellers who chose to live near their workplace and, thanks to telecommuting, will no longer need to, may consider a move. Those who are making a lifestyle change, perhaps an urban to rural shift, may be preparing for a major move. Downsizing will be the plan for some families and up-sizing for others. Some sellers will remain in limbo until the pandemic is well behind us.
You may repeatedly change your mind about the next step as the nature of the pandemic alters in your area. Taking time to see where things are headed before you plunge into the market may be wise. Reversing real estate decisions is much more difficult than making them in the first place.
#3. How will you stay safe in the meantime?
One great way to get a fresh look at your real estate, is to try and get out of your home in less than 2 minutes. Have you planned a fire-escape route lately? Do you know at least two ways out of each room and from each level? In planning a 2-minute fire-escape route, you’ll see how well spaces work and don’t. This intimate exploration will help you decide whether this is the ideal place to live or not.
Cooking, a popular Covid activity, is also the number one cause of home fires. As the holiday season approaches with its candles and inflammables, and colder weather drives us inside, fire safety becomes an even more significant issue.
With a safety overview in mind, take a long hard look at your home and what needs to be done to ensure it is safe and comfortable. Even if your last renovation was fairly recent, there can be things that need attention or repair.
How your community manages Covid-19 outbreaks is vital to your safety. How well do available medical and hospital capacities serve the population?
#4. Will your pre-Covid home suit your post-Covid lifestyle?
What issues does that question bring to mind? Covid-19 has irreversibly changed some lives, but not others. The pandemic has altered many aspects of life temporarily and just as many permanently. “Normal” is being redefined.
What do you want to return to and what would you like to improve on? As you flesh out this exploration to see if a move makes sense, consider the full cost of owning and maintaining your current property and the complete cost of moving not merely the purchase price.
#5. How quickly can you react?
If you suddenly had a good reason to sell—like a red-hot market or a distant job offer—how quickly could you get your home listed and on the market to earn top dollar? If there is a dramatic market change due to the pandemic, sellers may have to react quickly or be left behind.
• Do you have a real estate professional who you continue to work with or will you have to interview to find a compatible match?
• How ready is your home? Is it a cosmetic do-over or major make-over that will be required to earn top dollar?
• Do you understand what you would net from the sale of your property? Would it be enough to acquire your desired next home or to finance your next venture?
• Have you researched the practicality of purchasing or renting your next desired home? Low listing inventories are common in this stay-at-home time.
Talk to your real estate professional to determine who will buy your home. Who’s the target buyer for your neighborhood and type of property? Once you learn how your real estate would fare in the current local market, take an equally-detailed look at what choices you have for your next home.
Keep in mind that an ideal market for selling may not be an ideal market for buying the particular type and value of real estate you’re interested in. For instance, low inventory of listings may inflate your sale price, but when you’re the buyer there may not be much to choose from.
Your home may sell very quickly, so make sure you have all the choice you need for your next purchase before you sell.