Turning Your House Into Cash: Tips for Gauging the Real Estate Market

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Your house is an investment in your future. This is a mantra we have all heard over the years. Yet, if homeowners have learned one thing during the last decade, it is just how unpredictable the real estate market can be. So, if you are considering selling your home in the next few years, you will want to look at a few important forecasters to help you maneuver a fickle market and develop a solid strategy for getting the best price for my house.

Understanding the Local Market

Real estate prices fluctuate depending on the location of the house. Understanding your local real estate market will help you to determine its salability. The biggest question you will want to answer is if you are currently in a seller’s or a buyer’s market. But what is a seller’s market? Simply put, it is when there are more buyers than there are sellers. This puts people placing their home for sale in control when it comes to setting prices and selling conditions. If possible, you always want to list your home during a seller’s market. Otherwise, you will be competing against every other home for sale, and that could leave you without a buyer.

How can you determine the strength of your local real estate market and whether it is time to list your home? Here are a few telltale signs that the market is in your favor:

  • Plenty of new families are moving into the area. Is something drawing them in such as new jobs, good schools or low taxes? When younger families are being drawn to an area, they will do whatever it takes to get the house they want. This is good news for those trying to sell.
  • Are people staying? Notice few “for sale” signs in your neighborhood? It could mean that your neighbors love where they live and don’t plan to leave. This will make your neighborhood desirable to those wanting in – and harder for them to find a home, which of course will let you ask a higher price for yours.
  • Are local comps high? Check to see what other houses are selling for in your area. Rising prices (and shorter listing times) may indicate a healthy real estate market.
  • The area is becoming more desirable. The interest in certain areas fluctuates. Twenty years ago, one neighborhood may have been the place to be, while now an area once considered undesirable is getting all the attention – and the buyers. Keep a close eye on revitalization plans in your neighborhood. When the community begins to add new amenities and make improvements, it usually means real estate prices go up.

Improving Your Chance at a Sale

Learning how to gauge a neighborhood’s selling potential is just one aspect of selling your home for the best price. Even in the strongest real estate market, it is important that your house shines. Determining which home improvement projects grab the attention of house buyers and garner a better price isn’t always easy. After all, you don’t want to spend more money than you have to on a home you will soon be leaving. Still, there are some important upgrades to consider when selling your home:

  • Curb Appeal: Make sure the outside of your home looks clean, tidy, up-to-date and appealing. Trim trees and bushes; add flowers; repaint the entryway; update that old garage door. Even simple fixes can go a long way toward making your house look inviting.
  • Make Everything Look Fresh and Clean: A coat of new paint both inside and outside can make your home look fresh and cared for. Even if you can’t repaint the entire house, you can repaint the foyer or a child’s room that looks a bit worn. Outside, simply repaint the shutters, door and window frames for a cleaner look.
  • Look for Simple Upgrades: Houses that look worn and dated often don’t grab the kind of attention they need to get the best price. Look for simple upgrades that will add to your home’s appeal. Replace aging doorknobs and cabinet hardware or install some modern lighting fixtures in well-used areas. Replacing a dated wooden staircase with modern wrought-iron railings is another fast and easy way to give your home a sense of style that attracts modern buyers.
  • Replace a Few Windows and Doors: One way to make an impression from the moment a potential buyer pulls into your driveway is to replace the front door and maybe the front windows. This will give your place an updated look while showcasing its energy efficiency.
  • Update the Bathroom: People crave a spa-like bathroom these days. Even if you are not prepared for a full-fledged remodel, you can do a few things to create a more stylish and relaxing area:
    • Replace (or refinish) aging cabinets.
    • Re-grout old, worn-looking tile. There is no need to invest in new tile for your bathroom as long as the existing ones are in good shape. Instead, have the grout redone to give your entire bathroom a newly refreshed look.
    • Switch out dated hardware and faucets.
    • Add a specialty showerhead: People love jets, rain-heads and more. This simple upgrade can make your entire shower look and feel brand new.
  • Upgrade the Kitchen: Kitchens sell homes these days. The best home improvement project you can do to grab buyers’ attention is to upgrade as much in the kitchen as possible. Repaint or refinish cabinets; install a new countertop; replace faucets and hardware; and upgrade your appliances.
  • Create Plenty of Open Spaces: Buyers are looking for large open areas to entertain. Even if your home is more on the cozier end, there are ways to make it appear larger.
  • Minimalize Your Furniture: Make sure your furniture fits your space. Your spouse may love that large sectional couch, but if it makes your living area looked cramped, replace it with a borrowed coach and chair.
  • Get Rid of the Clutter – all of it!
  • Open Doorways to make entryways larger.
  • Create a Designated Space in a nook. This will make it appear as if your home is larger than it is.

Learning how to gauge local property values and figuring out the best time to list your home requires a combination approach. First, you must learn how to read the real estate signs and then, when you deem it the right time to sell, choose the perfect home improvement projects to get buyers interested.

Maurcia H. is a seasoned writer with 20-plus years of publishing experience which includes 10 traditional print books, three book collaborations; more than 100 ghostwritten books. Specializing in both how-to pieces as well as industry oriented articles, Maurcia has written press releases, blog posts and articles for a variety of construction companies.