I’m speaking to you the baby boomer and your parents who are homeowners. This may be the year that can make or break your retirement nest egg! As we all know timing is everything and it sure doesn’t hurt to have some luck to go with your instincts.
The real estate market is a moving pendulum. The only thing you can truly count on is change! A good friend once told me that you can make your plans, but you can’t plan the results. However, making choices based on expert advice is always the best way to go. Just think of the stock market. How many times did you want to pull your money out and buy that stock your friend just made a killing on. Then to find out had you done that you may have lost everything. Steady as she goes is the best mantra when looking at sound money management.
In my 35+ year career selling the homes of thousand of homeowners, I have watched home values increase, decrease and in some cases become not saleable. I remember in the 80’s, when interest rates shot up to almost 20% for a 30-year fixed rate loan, we sold on land contracts (a contract between seller and buyer excluding the mortgage company in many cases), and assumptions (where a buyer could take over the loan of the homeowner). Most homes that couldn’t sell in that fashion became “sale-proof”. We all remember 2008 when it looked like home values would increase forever. Then came the shock of a deep recession which lasted until 2014. What seems to be certain in real estate is a sign that uncertainty may be around the corner.
We all want to sell at the very top of the real estate market cycle and buy at the very bottom. You’ve heard the secret of the most successful investors in the world. The key to their success…buy low, sell high! However, our homes are more than a boat or a car. We have our emotions and memories tied into the foundations of our homes. There is more to selling than just price. We want to be comfortable and avoid change at all costs. Therefore, waiting for that exact moment is difficult to pull off.
Now in comes 2018 with predictions of prosperity and brisk home sales. Interest rates for buyers are still low and there is a huge millennial group just waiting for their first home. In 2017, there was a shortage of housing offered which caused prices to escalate at about 5-7% for the year. That beats inflation and most returns on investments. That group is still waiting for more inventory in 2018. I believe the first half of 2018 will be the best time to sell in many years. All signs point to a brisk market with time on the market less than 2 weeks in most areas. Prices will rise another 5%-7% by June in my opinion. But I have one caveat to share.
At some point maybe next year, baby boomers will be putting their homes on the market in large numbers due to retirement, downsizing and moving to warm weather. Many boomers have grandchildren in other states or areas within the state and will want to live much closer to them. Add to that the older senior population (78-90 years of age) who have put off selling during the recession and hung on to recoup their losses. Health may have changed to a point where it is no longer safe to stay in their homes and will cause them to sell and move to senior housing. We will see a convergence of these two groups selling very soon.
Another motivating factor for those thinking about selling will be the rising of buyer’s mortgage interest rates. That is a certainty as the economy is doing well. When our nation does well, interest rates rise. Many potential home sellers will hear about this on the news and determine that the peak prices may have arrived. I am certain that will happen this coming year.
With the real estate pendulum swinging, I believe this fabulous seller’s market will begin to change as home prices escalate to the point where buyers may feel homes have become unaffordable. Couple this with boomers and their parents putting their homes on the market and we may see the opposite market where too many homes are for sale. No one can predict when this will happen, but it could happen in the coming months or years. We don’t know. Therefore, I would suggest that if you are thinking about selling, certainty is better than gambling. I know the first half of 2018 will be a boomer for sellers. Beyond that is anybody’s guess. Put your lifestyle ahead of timing the market. If moving would offer a better retirement, go for it now. If you are happy and plan to live out your years in your current home, think about remodeling and updating so when the time comes to sell it will be ready to go and you can enjoy the updates!
If you are thinking about selling in 2018, this is the perfect time of year to begin the process of getting your home ready for market. Have an agent visit to give you ideas as to what updates are needed. The beginning of March is the ideal time to put your home on the market to maximize the sale price of your home. If you are going to buy a condo or smaller home, try to purchase in January or February if you can afford to buy before you sell. You will not only know where you are moving after you sell but you will buy low and sell high as January and February are the slowest months of the year for home sales.
I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and thank you for reading my articles. This will be my 15th year as a monthly contributor to 50plus magazine! I am so fortunate to have been in real estate for so many years and especially lucky to share my knowledge with you the reader. I would love to hear from you in the coming months so that you can give me the feedback I need to provide the information you are looking for. You can email me at Bruce@SeniorRealtor.com and I will make sure to answer any questions you may have!