Q: I’m thinking about putting my house on the market. It’s not a necessity, but we want to trade down to something less expensive as we are getting older. Should we put the house on the market in spring 2009?
A: If you can wait until 2010, I think you might find that you’ll sell your home faster and for more money than if you put it on in the spring, as the recession is getting deeper.
There is a downside to waiting: As prices rise, you may pay a little more for what you’re buying in addition to receiving more for the house you’re selling. But I’d want to sell the bigger asset at a higher price and buy the smaller asset for a little more money because the differential will be less on the cheaper property.
As my mother, a top real estate agent in Chicago for more than 25 years, often says: you’re never going to sell high and buy low at the same time, unless you change neighborhoods, cities or states. Most people will sell high and buy high or sell low and buy low.
Obviously, if you can sell high and buy low, you’ll make a lot more money. And if you live in a place in which the real estate market is still strong and real estate values continue to hold up, by all means you should consider putting your current home on the market and trying to sell it as soon as possible. You could be in the rare situation of having the ability to sell your home for a price of your liking and having the opportunity to buy a home in a new area that might have seen home values reduced.
Dec. 2, 2008.