Making the big decision to buy or sell a home is a big deal, and when you do, it can have a huge impact on your wallet. Not sure how to evaluate whether it's a good time to make a move? These questions are a great place to start:
- Should I buy/sell now, or wait?: is this a good time to buy or sell? Ask local real estate agents what they think, and listen closely. The key here is to look beyond a basic 'it's a great time to buy!' answer. A good agent will back up their claim with local facts. Real estate agents will tell you how homes in a specific neighbourhood are getting multiple offers, which might mean paying full list price if you really want to live there. This is the hallmark of a strong agent: they're familiar with current data and trends, and they're willing to give you advice that's in your best interest. Then you can use those insights to form your own opinion.
- How much will seasonal trends affect my results? Almost every agent knows that homes tend to sell during the spring and fall. Most people don't want to drive from house to house during the cold winter months, so springtime releases pent-up demand. Does the weather affect behaviour in your city or town? Are there other neighbourhood events that may affect the local market? An agent will be able to walk you through the data that influences buying and selling behaviour at different times of the year.
- Are 2014's seasonal trends in line with previous years? A good agent should be able to give you some historical context, commenting about whether or not that type of rise in asking price is 'normal' relative to other summers. They may advise you—based on this year's trends—to make decisions in a way that's different from what they would have recommended in previous seasons.
- How is my price range, relative to homes on the market? If you are considering selling your home, ask how it would be priced relative to similar homes sold in the previous three, six, and twelve months. If you're buying, ask what your price range gets you today versus what it might have gotten a year ago. In both cases, you should look at: median prices and price-per-square-foot. A good agent will tell you how your home (or your budget) relates to median prices in target neighbourhoods. They'll help you understand what trade-offs you may need to make to get what you want now, versus a few months down the road.