With the shortage of homes available for sale, now could be a great time to sell your house at a premium — but only if you have a plan for what to do next.
While homeowners have seen their property values rise 26% since 2020, the housing market remains incredibly challenging for buyers — many of whom have been forced to the sidelines because of high home prices, rising interest rates, and the lack of options available.
"Although sellers can currently demand a premium, which can be a huge benefit, many times that same seller will now need to turn around and buy a home," says Suzanne Seini, CEO and owner of Innovate Realty in Irvine, California.
"Sellers need to make sure they can find the right home in this market. On top of that, with interest rates rising, a seller may be looking at paying double the rate of their current mortgage."
Competing with other buyers for a house and taking on a new mortgage could take a bite out of your earnings. Selling now could also mean losing out on additional equity (your home's value, minus what you owe), since home prices are projected to keep climbing in 2023 — albeit at a lower rate than in 2022.
Despite the risks of selling now, some realtors caution that there's a downside to waiting. As realtor Cynthia Cummins puts it, "We truly ARE in a seller's market."
Our advice: If you're concerned about where the market is headed, talk to a few local realtors to get their opinion. Real estate is local, and some markets are more favorable for sellers right now than others. That said, here are a few factors to consider when deciding to sell your home now or wait.
Why you should trust us
This article draws on in-depth research and interviews with more than a dozen real estate professionals with experience in buying, selling, and investing. Subject matter experts who contributed to this piece include:
- Cynthia Cummins, realtor and founder of KindredSFhomes.com
- Joel Efosa, a real estate investor and CEO of Fire Cash Buyers
- Jonathan Faccone, a managing member and founder of Halo Homebuyers
- Jon Foster, realtor and co-owner of Jon & Leslie Foster Real Estate Group
- Sean Gilliam, an associate broker with LoKation Real Estate
- Tim Gordon, a real estate investor based in San Diego
- Isabella Griffin, Founder and CEO of Eazy House Sale in Los Angeles
- Andrew Iremonger, a realtor with eXp Realty and CEO of the Emerald Group
- Maham Khan, head of marketing at Mybrokerone
- Leigh McAlpin, director of business development at Classic Architectural Group
- Danielle Rownin, a real estate broker with Keller Williams
- Suzanne Seini, CEO and owner of Innovate Realty
- Jennifer Spinelli, a real estate professional, interior designer, and founder and CEO of Watson Buys
- Mark Washburn, a realtor with Naples Condo Boutique
We also drew on data from the following sources:
Reasons to sell your house now
|You want to maximize your equity. If your home has risen significantly in value, you may want to cash in while it's still a seller's market.
|You're looking to downsize. Pulling your equity out now could put you in a good place to buy your next home in cash.
|You're selling for personal reasons. If you've had a change in circumstances, you might not have a choice but to move.
You want to maximize your equity
In some markets, property values have fallen by as much as 15% since their peak in June 2022. But in others, home prices are up by as much as 20% year over year.
“If your local market is booming and prices have risen significantly in recent months, now may be a great time to list your home,” says Isabella Griffin, Founder and CEO of Eazy House Sale in Los Angeles.
"A common misconception is that prices are way down. That is actually not true, at least in my market here in the San Francisco Bay Area," says Jon Foster, a realtor and co-owner of Jon & Leslie Foster Real Estate Group.
However, he emphasizes that sellers need to prep their homes before listing: "Homes that look the nicest, with upgrades, new paint, new flooring, landscaping and other upgrades are selling for top dollar. Homes that are not prepped well and that have not been maintained are not getting as much attention from buyers."
"If you believe the market is still operating like it was in 2021 and early 2022, it may be time to adjust your expectations," says San Diego–based real estate investor Tim Gordon. "At this stage of the market," he warns, "there may not be a buyer for every seller."
That said, homes that are prepped and priced well can still receive multiple offers. A recent report from NAR found that homes sold in June 2023 received an average of 3.5 offers, with approximately 1 in 3 selling above list price. Says Griffin, “The best way to maximize your profit is to hire a real estate agent who can help you price and market your home for success."
You're looking to downsize your lifestyle
Perhaps the best scenario for selling now is if you're downsizing or moving to a more affordable area — particularly if you have a significant amount of equity in your home.
"While many buyers may be on the sidelines due to higher mortgage interest rates and inflation," says Sean Gilliam of LoKation Real Estate, "there are also plenty of buyers that have cash or are strong borrowers that are actively looking for homes. Demand is such that homes are still selling above list price on average."
If you have enough equity to pay for your next home in cash, you're in a good position to avoid taking out a hefty mortgage while interest rates are on the rise.
Another benefit of downsizing? If home prices DO drop, the impact on your equity will be much lower with a less expensive property.
You're selling for personal reasons
Sometimes circumstances like a new job, family illness, or financial hardship don't leave you with much of a choice other than to move. In certain cases, you might have to sell your current house to qualify for a mortgage and afford the down payment on a new one.
The good news is, selling now — when home values are high and inventory is low — will likely net you a great price for your property.
"My advice to sellers is to go ahead and sell if you have a life event that's prompting it," says San Francisco–based realtor Cynthia Cummins.
"We're seeing competing offers and over-asking sales prices for houses here in the city, so long as they're positioned correctly — priced right, presented properly with staging, etc. Motivated buyers have adjusted to the fact that mortgage rates are higher and that isn't stopping them. The only thing that's stopping them is there's almost nothing to buy!"
Reasons to sell your house later
|You don't want to miss out on appreciation. Home values are still climbing, so you might be walking away from additional equity.
|You're not sure where you'll live next. With interest rates rising, your next home may not be as affordable.
|You're not prepared for selling costs. If you've owned for <2 years, capital gains and selling costs could eat into your profits.
|You're trying to time the market. If you're simply trying to time the market — with no real need to sell — it's probably not worth the risk.
|Your home renovations aren’t complete. With monthly mortgage payments rising, buyers aren't going to settle for any home. Completing home renovations before selling may be necessary to attract a buyer.
You don't want to miss out on appreciation
Some housing markets remain strong, with home values continuing to rise. Homeowners in these regions may want to wait to sell. "Home values tend to be resilient during recessions," advises realtor Sean Gilliam, "so sellers can expect their homes to continue to increase in value."
Corelogic also forecasts modest home price growth over 2023, but it suggests that the rise won't be even across the board. It warns that certain markets face a 50–75% risk of home prices declining in the next 12 months.
As Joel Efosa, real estate investor and CEO of Fire Cash Buyers, notes, “Forecasting the real estate market for 2023 is challenging.”
To get a sense of where you stand as a home seller, talk to a real estate agent with a strong understanding of the local market. They can advise you on whether to sell now or wait until you've built up more equity.
If you're looking for a good real estate agent near you, Clever is a good place to start. Clever's free service connects sellers with top local agents from well-known brokerages like Century 21 and RE/MAX. Sellers get pre-negotiated listing fees of just 1.5% — about half the standard commission rate.
Interview as many agents as you'd like until you find the right fit, or walk away at any time with no obligation.
Selling costs could eat your profit
Most homeowners need to be in their house for a couple of years before the profits from selling it can offset the costs.
When you first purchase a home, most of the mortgage payments go toward interest, so it can take some time to start building equity.
Add to that the actual money it costs to sell a home. Selling costs can be approximately 10–15% of the sale price, and include things like:
- Real estate agent commissions (6%)
- Repairs (varies, paid for out of pocket)
- Seller closing costs (1–3%)
- Closing costs on your next home (3–5%)
Imagine you paid $400,000 for a house. With selling costs taking 10% off the top, you'd need to either sell for $440,000 or have already paid off $40,000 of the mortgage — just to break even.
So if you’ve bought or refinanced your home in the last couple of years, you may want to wait to sell, especially if you have locked in a favorable mortgage rate.
How selling too soon can hurt your bottom line
When you sell a home, you're responsible for paying capital gains tax on any profit. The IRS taxes capital gains at the same rate as your income tax.
However, if you've lived in a house for longer than two years, you qualify for a capital gains tax exemption of $250,000 (or $500,000 if you co-own the house and file taxes jointly).
Waiting for the two-year mark could net you thousands of extra dollars from your home sale.
You're not sure where you'll live next
If you bought or refinanced while interest rates were low, and you don't have the equity or assets to purchase a new home in cash, selling your current home may mean exchanging your mortgage for a pricier one.
In 2023, mortgage rates have been 6.12–7.09% for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. For homeowners who secured a 2–3% mortgage rate in 2021, trading that low mortgage for a higher one in 2023 can be costly.
Let's say you bought your home in 2021 for the asking price of $400,000. Buying that same home today would cost you an extra $734 per month just in interest.
Monthly mortgage on a $413,950 home: June 2021 vs. June 2023
You're trying to time the market
"Trying to time the market is a risky game to play," warns realtor Andrew Iremonger. If you don't need to sell, the mental and monetary costs of trying to time the market may not be worth the gamble.
While it makes sense to want to cash in while the market is hot, you'll also need to consider where you'll live after you sell. Today's home shoppers face:
- Lots of competition over a low supply of houses
- The highest mortgage rates in years
- Paying more for less house, with slower appreciation
- Renting until the housing market cools off (with no return or equity)
What to watch out for
When trying to decide whether to sell or wait, Jonathan Faccone, managing member and the founder of Halo Homebuyers, recommends understanding your current local market conditions.
“Consider how long homes in your area have been on the market, what their sale prices are compared to asking prices, and if there are any changes in the local economy that may impact your property’s value.”
He also suggests that “if homes in your area are sitting on the market for an extended time or prices are dropping, then it is not the best time to put your home up for sale.”
You haven't completed home renovations
Unfinished home renovations can deter potential home buyers who may not see your home's potential.
“Completing unfinished remodeling projects can pay off. Painting kitchen cabinets or renovating a bathroom sink can increase the value of your property, leading to a higher selling price,” states Leigh McAlpin, director of business development at Classic Architectural Group. “But don’t do a full remodel to sell your home because your tastes may not match the buyer’s.”
If your home needs major repairs like an HVAC or roof replacement, Leigh suggests financing and finishing these projects before selling. “Buyers want a property in good shape, not a new kitchen or bath.”
Tips for selling your home in 2023
Have your next housing situation planned out
If you'd like to sell your home in 2023, realtor Andrew Iremonger suggests starting by figuring out where you'll move next — right down to picking out the neighborhood and home.
"Have your house prepped and ready to go, then go home shopping," he advises. "As soon as you secure the next property, throw yours on the market slightly below market value to ensure a quick sale."
Need to sell your property first? Iremonger advises budgeting a portion of the proceeds for a short-term rental, such as an Airbnb. You can also look into home trade-in services (like Knock and Orchard), which can help you buy before you sell and move on your own timeline.
"Everyone's situation is different," says Iremonger, "so a longer discussion with your real estate professional would be helpful to make sure you are making the right move."
Know where you'll put extra cash from a sale
"If you have an investment or second home you are considering selling, you need to make sure that your money is going to be better reinvested somewhere else," advises Iremonger.
Maybe you want to use the money to improve your current lifestyle or roll the money into an investment with better ROI potential.
Just make sure you have a plan that makes sense, says Iremonger — there's no real benefit to pulling money out of a house just to have it sit in a bank.
Don't ignore the effects of rising interest rates on buyer behavior
With both homes and mortgages costing more in 2023 than they did a year ago, buyers are getting choosier about where they'll lay down their money.
"In many especially competitive markets, buyers have been waiving inspections to position their offers as more attractive," explains Mark Washburn, a realtor in Naples, FL.
But with one in five sellers dropping their asking price in May, the days of listing your home as is and still attracting multiple offers above asking is coming to an end.
"Sellers need to understand that the real estate market is softening," advises real estate agent Sean Gilliam, meaning buyers are holding off on making offers on properties that don’t have all of the boxes checked.
"Buyers are still willing to pay high prices," Gilliam continues, "but only if the house is move-in ready, in a great location, and is one of the best homes on the market."
Homes will need to be fixed up and prepped for showings. Otherwise, he suggests, you may need to get comfortable having your home sit on the market.
Get a CMA first to avoid over- or under-pricing
Given the shifting market, Gilliam suggests, home sellers need to get the price right — especially if the home isn't in the best condition or neighborhood.
"If sellers get too eager and overprice their listing," he says, "they may have to do a price reduction or accept a weaker offer."
If you're curious how much a seller might pay for your home, you can ask a real estate agent for a comparative market analysis (CMA). This will give you an idea of your home's fair market value — and most realtors will provide one for free in an effort to earn your business.
Reasons why your home isn’t selling in a hot market
“Even in a competitive market, pricing can make or break a sale,” states Maham Khan, head of marketing at Mybrokerone. “Potential buyers may be discouraged by the cost and choose a more affordable alternative.”
Listing too high can prevent buyers from looking at your property, and listing too low can cause you to lose out on potential profit. Find an experienced local real estate agent who knows the comps in your area to help you determine the right price for your property in the current market.
Jennifer Spinelli, real estate professional, interior designer, and founder and CEO of Watson Buys, recommends reviewing your online marketing to see if it’s leading to fewer buyers. “Review your online listing. Look at the photos, description, and other details. You may need to update those to better showcase your home.”
Buyers in 2023 are more selective. The staging and appearance of your home can make a difference, especially if comparable homes are on the market that have more updates than yours. “Presentation is important,” states Maham Khan, “Lack of curb appeal or outmoded interiors may turn off buyers.”
Even in a hot market, buyers might not be interested in your property if it isn’t in their ideal location. In this situation, a local real estate agent could help you position your home better in the market, like by making a strategic pricing adjustment.
"There's a huge wrinkle with properties in California (and in other parts of the country) due to the whole insurance crisis," says Cummins.
"State Farm, for example, isn't writing any new homeowners insurance policies in the whole state of California! And most insurers are looking for any excuse to either drop existing policies or not issue new ones. What this means for sellers is that they may not be able to sell if their buyer can't get insurance coverage.
"So my strong advice for anyone who is contemplating selling anytime soon would be to check with their insurance broker to discreetly inquire about the sorts of upgrades their insurer would require if a new owner was trying to get a policy on the house."
FAQ about selling a house in 2023
How long should I wait to sell my house?
There's no universal answer. But the longer you've owned a house, the more money you might be able to walk away with once you sell it since you'll have had time to build equity.
If you've owned your home for less than two years, you'll have to pay capital gains tax on any profits, which could offset a high sale price.
Is now a good time to sell my house?
There's a strong demand for houses right now because inventory is low — so now might be a good time to sell your house if you want to get maximum value.
However, it really depends on your goals, local market conditions, and next steps. If you're going to buy another house, the profits you make from selling in a peak market might be canceled out by the high cost of buying in the same hot market.
How long will it take to sell my house?
Currently, the average days on market in the US (the number of days it takes for a new listing to go under contract) is 29. That's up from 21 days a year ago, according to Redfin, and home sales generally slow even further during the fall and winter months.
Additionally, the average closing time of a home sale is 30–45 days, so factor that into your timeline if you're looking to sell your house fast.
Should I sell my home before a recession?
Home prices are usually at an all-time high before a recession. So selling before a recession can result in a higher profit if your sale price is higher than your purchase price. But the decision to sell involves many factors, including your personal circumstances. It can be helpful to consult a real estate professional when you're deciding when to sell.
Should I sell now or wait until 2024?
To help you decide when to sell your home, consider your current local market conditions, your circumstances, and your goals for selling. Some predictions indicate that prices may fall in 2024, but the current forecasts don't anticipate a price crash.