While there are some homeowners who decide to sell out of necessity (finances, divorce, tragedy), most homeowners still decide freely on whether to sell. This page only addresses sellers who have a choice in the decision and are not under duress or other circumstances requiring a quick sale.
• Moving from an existing a home to a new home is one the most exciting and stressful activities an individual, couple or family can undertake. As a result, the decision on whether or not to sell is often one of the most challenging and anxiety-riddled decisions a person will make during their lifetime.
• Before deciding to list your property for sale, a homeowner must first determine whether it is financially feasible to move out of their existing home and purchase a new home. This decision will likely hinge almost entirely on the amount of "equity" the homeowner has in the property. Equity is the difference between the value of the home (sales price) and the amount that the seller owes to the bank on its mortgage or other debt on the home.
• Prior to selling, you should also contact your lender and any other lien-holder to determine how much you would owe them should you pay off the existing loan(s) on the property.
• In order to determine the value of your home, you should either have your agent analyze recent comparable sales or--if you do not have an agent--conduct your own search of recently sold comparable properties. Comparable sales are homes that have sold recently (usually within the past 6 months or sooner) that are near yours and are similar in nature to your property. You can find these properties on the MLS' list of Sold Properties.
• While a real estate agent can be helpful in determining the price range of a home, the ultimate decision on whether it makes sense to sell rests with the seller. Real estate agents are not financial advisors so they have only limited insight into the factors that ultimately influence and dictate the decision on whether to sell.
• When you are creating your budget for selling, do not forget to add the fees and costs you will incur as the result of the sale to the existing mortgage. For instance, if you utilize the services of a real estate agent, you will need to factor these fees into your calculations. You should consult your attorney and your agent to determine what fees other than your mortgage you will need to pay at the time of the sale.
• Once you create your budget, the next question to ask is whether the timing of the sale makes sense. Your personal reasons for selling should be the ultimate factor in the decision. However, in Vermont there are better times than others to list your property. Historically, Spring and Summer are better times to list than Fall and Winter.
• In addition to better seasonal times for selling, the state of the market, tax advantages, etc... may help in your decision. In 2009, there was a tax credit available for first time homebuyers. This helped stimulate sales and when the tax credit expired we saw an immediate drop in activity. Discuss the market with your agent before listing.