Buying or Selling Your Home By the End of 2021? Here’s What You Should Do Now
Here’s the month-by-month breakdown of what you can expect if you’re buying or selling by the end of the year.
Whether 2020 put off your plans to sell your home or enter the market as a buyer, or you were already aiming to buy/sell this year, 2021 is shaping up to be a great year to make your move(s). For sellers, there are plenty of interested buyers out there — in fact, more buyers than there are available properties! Buyers, don’t let that put you off of making the leap to homeownership. Sellers are seeing the steady demand and becoming more eager to list their homes.
Of course, achieving your goal doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re realistically looking at buying or selling in 6-9 months, here’s how you can best break up the months ahead with minimal stress.
Month 1-2: Making Goals & Going Over Numbers
If you’re buying: One of the biggest mistakes potential buyers make is focusing on the type of home they want instead of its location. Yet, location determines everything from how much house you can afford to the length of your commute. While you can always change a home, you can’t change its location. So, narrow down the areas you’d like to live in. If you’re still having trouble deciding, make a list of what you’d like in your ideal neighborhood (or your deal-breakers) and let it guide your research.
Your other priority will be developing your financial picture. What are your debts? What are your assets? What’s your income-to-debt ratio? Where will the down payment come from? And the big one: what would you like your monthly mortgage payment to be?
If you’re selling: An agent can best help you meet your goals when you’re prepared to answer what those goals actually are. Is your goal to get the highest price for your home, and are you willing to make possible changes that may be needed to achieve that? Or, would you prefer to focus your attention on your upcoming move and not get too involved in making updates? Do you have a timeline for a move?
Everything you can do right now to give your real estate agent a strong idea of who you are, your goals, and your expectations will help them develop the best action plan tailored to your needs. While you’re taking time to answer the above questions, we can start by developing a CMA (comparative market analysis) to help you understand what your home may sell for today.
Month 3-4: Getting Your “Team” Together & Putting a Plan Into Action
If you’re buying: The real estate market continues to move fast. Tight inventory means that homes sell in days. So why speak to an agent now when you’re months away from seriously looking for a new home? Because you’ll be able to take the time to interview a few agents to see who is the best fit without the pressure of potentially missing out on a promising home.
Though the market might change when it is time to buy, it’s also good to get an idea of the trends in your desired areas when you speak to agents. Have prices been rising, and if so, how much? Are there signs that inventory is getting better? Are there properties that are getting overlooked?
When you decide on an agent, they can help you answer these questions, figure out a budget for your potential home, and select a lender so you can get preapproved for a mortgage (Preapproval can sometimes be time-consuming, so be sure to get this done before starting your search!).
If you’re selling: Selling your home starts with hiring a real estate agent you can trust. Our reviews and testimonials are full of stories from clients that we've helped over time. Check them out here.
You may want to interview multiple agents to see who will work best with your situation. Pay less attention to promises about price and more about the plan for achieving your goal. Does the agent listen to your concerns? What’s their track record for selling homes similar to yours? Will they give honest feedback about your home’s strengths and weaknesses — and have a plan for overcoming any weaknesses?
Decide on an agent as far in advance as you can before selling. This will give you time to make any agent-recommended updates to your home, whether it’s simple decluttering or making necessary repairs.
Month 5-7: It’s Go Time — or Time to Get Ready for Go Time
If you’re buying: It's time to start searching! In a busy real estate market, you will likely have to compete with more buyers than there are homes. Based on your preferred area, price range, and home criteria, we'll be able to advise how to put together an offer that has the best chance of standing out from the competition being accepted by the sellers.
If your offer has been accepted, it’s time for a brief celebration. Then, you’ll go into escrow and begin the countdown to closing. A lot happens during this time: Inspections, appraisals, finalizing your mortgage, and plenty of paperwork.
If you're not ready to make the jump and put an offer in on a home, we highly recommend waiting to go out and view properties. It can be fun to shop around, but if you happen to fall in love with a home before you're ready, you likely won't be able to get your ducks in a row fast enough to put in an offer and the disappointment may negatively affect the rest of your home search.
If you’re selling: This is the time to put the finishing touches on cleaning, decluttering, and photographing your home for its market debut. We use a professional photographer to ensure that your home looks its absolute best, but even professional photography can't make clutter look appealing, and potential buyers will have a hard time seeing the full potential of a home that simply isn't clean.
Make it clear to your agent what times are off-limits for showings, then have a plan in place on where to go (and where to put day-to-day clutter) when impromptu showings happen. At this point, though, your agent will be doing the majority of the legwork for selling your home. They’ll guide you through the offers received and everything that happens after you accept an offer.
Month 8-9: The Other Finish Line
If you’re buying or selling: It's closing time! Congratulations! You’ve either successfully bought or sold a home.
In the end, achieving your dream result starts by creating a plan. Whether you’re buying, selling, or both, the process seems far less daunting when you know what to expect and when. While you can’t predict everything — and wasn’t 2020 a great lesson about that? — having a plan in place will bring you one step closer to reaching your goal.