Knowing when to sell your house can be a tricky question. It depends on a wide variety of factors, many of which will be totally outside your control. It’s a balance between your needs and wants, the state of the market, and even the season, but the San Francisco real estate agents at Danielle Lazier + Associates are here to help guide you through the process of deciding when is the right time to sell your house.
#1. Are Your Finances Stable Enough to Upgrade?
If you’ve paid off all your non-mortgage debt, and you’ve got at an emergency savings fund which could cover expenses for at least the next quarter, odds are that you’re financially stable enough to warrant an upgrade to a new home. While selling your home will surely bring in a fair profit, that money won’t come in without an investment of time and money up front.
Preparing your home for sale is no small task. To make it more attractive to potential buyers, you will need to renovate, decorate, and properly stage your home. That might include new floors, fixtures, countertops, paint, landscaping, or other home improvements, so be ready to front the cost of those investments in the short-term. You’ll more than make back your investment with the sale, so it’s worth your time to upgrade your home as much as possible.
#2. Does Your Home Have Enough Equity to Make Selling Worthwhile?
Your home should have enough equity, or make enough profit in the sale, to at least cover 20% of the cost of your next property. The more the better, but a minimum 20% down payment on your next home will drastically reduce the need for private mortgage insurance. Our San Francisco real estate agents agree that this will save you in the long-run.
San Francisco houses typically sell for significantly more than their asking price, so, depending on the market, you may still be able to generate enough profit by selling to make the question of equity moot.
#3. Is Your Home No Longer Appropriate for Your Lifestyle?
Your home should precisely match your lifestyle. A growing family, a change in job, a new hobby, or other factors might make your home feel too constrictive. You might find yourself in need of a bigger kitchen, a few more bedrooms, more storage, a third bathroom, and so on, so an upgrade to a larger home would inform your decision to sell.
On the other hand, your current home may be too big. Perhaps you used to work from home, but have since moved to an office downtown, or your grown children have moved into homes of their own, leaving you with a few empty bedrooms. Maybe the yard work and upkeep of a larger property no longer fit your lifestyle. In any event, moving to a smaller property shouldn’t feel like a downgrade; size isn’t everything! Consider upgrading to a smaller home in a better location, with more luxuriant features. You could trade a few extra bedrooms for a shorter commute and a quieter neighborhood, for example. If your current home no longer matches your needs, it might be time to sell.
#4. Will Further Remodeling Make Little Difference?
Upgrading and renovating a property is a common way to build equity and recoup a greater investment when selling a house, but it isn’t an option for everyone. With so many historic homes, and so many civic bylaws governing potential development in San Francisco, major renovations may be prohibited.
Even for those homes which can be remodeled liberally, there is an upper limit to the potential benefits. If your home already outclasses the rest of the neighborhood, odds are that you’ll have reached the highest point that the market can support. Most San Francisco real estate experts will describe this as a point of diminishing returns. Past a certain threshold, there will be no investment benefit from additional improvements. Once you’ve reached that point, the most financially sound decision is to sell your home and re-invest the profits into a property with stronger investment potential.
#5. Do You Need a Change of Scenery?
Even if your home meets your needs, your neighborhood might not. Civic infrastructure can completely change the mood of a particular neighborhood. Maybe a new transit line or commercial development has changed your sleepy, quiet street into a bustling thoroughfare. Maybe changes in sound or light pollution are keeping you up at night. Even changes in social dynamics can be a good reason to sell your home and upgrade to something more compatible with your lifestyle.
For example, a hip, bustling neighborhood like SOMA might have been ideal when you were single and wanted to be close to a prime nightlife scene, but after you’ve started a family, you might want a neighborhood with a slower pace. A great neighborhood with a temperate microclimate and plenty of open green space is Bernal Heights, which makes it a haven for young families. It’s close to the freeway, making for easier commutes, and the climb up Bernal Hill offers spectacular views of the city. The neighborhood is like a quirky small town, nestled inside San Francisco’s urban center.
#6. Does Selling Make Sense for the Season?
The time of year can have a huge impact on real estate. As San Francisco real estate experts, we generally see more interested buyers in Spring and Summer. The hassles of moving and renovating in the colder, wetter, winter months are a major deterrent. On the other hand, many potential buyers are under pressure to move quickly. Major life events (new jobs, growing families, unexpected illnesses, and so on) often require a person to move in a hurry. Homes listed in winter will have less market competition, and may meet with highly motivated buyers.
On the other hand, homes with lush gardens, striking curb appeal, and plenty of natural light (from the longer summer days) make for better open houses. Your Realtor will be able to help you navigate those competing pressures to strike the right balance when selling your San Francisco home.
#7. Are You Free to Wait for the Right Buyer?
If you’re under pressure to make a quick sale, you very likely won’t sell for the highest possible price. Since most homes are sold at a considerable profit, especially in San Francisco, even breaking even should be considered a serious financial hit. If you aren’t free to hold out for the right offer, it may not be the best time to sell your home (unless you have absolutely no other choice).
#8. Is the Market Healthy? Ask San Francisco Real Estate Experts!
The San Francisco real estate experts at Danielle Lazier + Associates, in collaboration with COMPASS San Francisco, have access to the most accurate and up-to-date data. We can chart trends much more quickly and precisely than the general public. Though the San Francisco real estate market is nearly always trending upward year over year, it does have its ebbs and tides.
If you’re planning to sell your San Francisco home, you’d be well advised to work with Danielle Lazier + Associates to chart the real estate market and find the best time to sell. Give us a call today to speak with one of our San Francisco real estate experts!