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Lost Spring Home-Buying Season: Can you still sell your home this year?

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The stay at home orders and social distancing guidelines took effect just as the spring home-buying (and selling) season was getting underway. If you are a homeowner who was considering selling your home this year, you are probably wondering what now?

The good news is if you have to sell — people are still buying homes. Real estate professionals and other real estate industry providers, including realtor.com, are quickly adapting to the new normal by making it easier for people to search for a home safely. Here at realtor.com, we’ve added several product enhancements including more virtual and 3D tours and the ability to video chat with an agent. We recently introduced Livestream Open Houses, which enables home shoppers to attend a live, hosted online open house from the comfort of their own home.

Although most people still prefer to see a home in person before making a purchase, a recent realtor.com survey found that 24 percent of people would be willing to buy a home sight unseen with the aid of accurate listing data, detailed photos and virtual and live video tours.

So while that is all good news for people who have to sell, what if you are one of the many homeowners who thought 2020 would be the year to downsize or take advantage of the low interest rates to move into a bigger home? Does it still make sense to list your home in 2020 or should you wait?

June could be the new April

Mid-April is typically the best time to list your home for sale — homes listed during this time are likely to get the most views and sell fast. Although we know that’s not likely the case this year, the coronavirus’ overall impact on the U.S. housing market remains to be seen. 

The housing market was extremely active prior to the pandemic, and in most markets the number of active home shoppers outnumbered the number of homes for sale. Homes were quickly selling and the median home price was increasing in most markets throughout the country. Many housing economists believe that although the housing market has stalled, we will not see a repeat of the 2008 recession. 

The big question is will buyers — who have been sidelined by the stay at home orders and uneconomic uncertainty brought on by the pandemic — come back quickly or remain sidelined?

The realtor.com economics team looked at historical listing data to provide insight into what sellers might expect this year.

The home-buying season typically follows the school year — many buyers are looking to move into their new home before the start of the new school year. If that remains a key factor this year, there is a chance that June will become the new April — with buyers returning to the market on a condensed timeline and more motivated than before. In this scenario, as a seller, while your window for finding a buyer may be shorter this year, there is a potential you could see more interest and a quicker sale this July and August when home prices typically are at their highest than you might see this spring. 

If social distancing measures remain in place later into the year past summer, people who were forced to put their home buying journey on hold may be willing to extend their search into the fall and winter off-season. Additionally, unmet demand from spring and summer could build up over the year and we may see some mini-restart later in the year when the market traditionally cools down. 

In both of these scenarios, if you plan to list your home for sale this year, timing will be more critical than ever before. You should prepare now to list so that when the time comes you can do so quickly and capture buyers before they drop out for the season. With that in mind, here’s a few things you can do now:

Stay on top of the last real estate news

With the situation changing daily, we are all watching and waiting to see how the country emerges from the pandemic. To help you stay on top of what it means from a real estate standpoint, we’ve created a COVID-19 real estate resource center. The resource center, which is updated daily, provides news and advice on how to navigate the market as well as insights from our economics team to help you make informed decisions. With timing being so important, you’ll also want to visit the realtor.com research blog. Here, you’re able to see real estate market trends in your local area. By comparing median listing price and days on market year-over-year, you’ll be able to get a feel for how your market is performing.

Make sure the price is right

A big part of your decision to sell will be based on answering the question, how much is my home worth? By claiming your home on realtor.com®’s My Home portal, you can get a good ballpark idea of what your home is likely to garner and how it compares to other for-sale homes in your area. Unlike other real estate websites, realtor.com displays three estimated property values as a way to provide more insight into the value of your home. At the end of the day, a local real estate professional will be the best judge of the value of your home.

Do what you can to get your home ready for sale now

With timing being so important this year, take advantage of the time you are spending at home to ensure that when you are ready to list, your home is ready, too. Here’s a checklist of things to do now and No. 1 on the list brings us to our next tip. 

Talk to a real estate professional

Although there are many online resources, there is no substitute for the knowledge and experience of a local real estate professional. They know your market and can be the best source of information when it comes to deciding whether to list your home, determining the listing price and advising you on how to get your home ready for sale. Although many of them are practicing social distancing, they are still working and leveraging technology to virtually tour homes, etc.

Start looking for your next home

Again, the 2020 housing market is different than anything we’ve experienced in the past. If buyers come back into the market looking to move before the start of the school year, you may need to accelerate your plans. In addition to being able to search for homes, see virtual tours, attend live open houses and chat with an agent from the comfort of your home, you can rely on realtor.com to familiarize yourself with neighborhoods, including schools, lifestyle amenities, commute time and noise levels.


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