Note: This article is a rewrite from 2023, updated for current market conditions.
The extreme seller’s market left a deep impression on the housing market. For a brief period, sellers were able to ask for anything and everything—and plenty of buyers were willing to pay it, due to extremely low interest rates that made borrowing cheap.
Now interest rates are back up, and inflation has made people wary of spending on top of that. Considering the Spring 2024 market, many sellers are wondering: is now a good time to sell a house? Or should I wait it out?
Here’s what you should keep in mind.
Many Market Factors Still Benefit Sellers, Not Buyers
The media narrative about the current housing market is bleaker than reality. Home prices dropped slightly during the winter, yes—but that’s a trend we’ve seen every year. Home prices are projected to remain relatively stable this year, with the potential to drop very slightly.
The mortgage rate has dropped from its peak in October. That’s good news for buyers—their money can buy more house. It’s also good news for sellers, who will benefit from a greater number of eligible buyers.
The initial rise in mortgage rate contributed to a market slowdown. Buyers hated seeing rates 5% or higher after seeing their friends and neighbors get 3%. Now that people have adjusted to the new normal, the interest rate may present less of a psychological hurdle to get over.
Inventory is up, which means buyers have more options—and less pressure to buy right away. However, it’s still below what would be considered a balanced market or a buyer’s market. The current national rate is 3.5 months of inventory; most economists agree that 5-6 months inventory is a balanced market.
Sellers should feel incentivized to participate in the housing market while circumstances still favor them overall. Keep in mind that baby boomers hold the majority of housing stock in the US—but they are finally in their retirement era. While many have chosen to “age in place” by upgrading their existing homes, this could change as the population deals with increasing mobility issues and changing lifestyles.
The High of 2021/22 Shouldn’t be Your Benchmark
One of the reasons people may hold back on selling is the belief that a “better time to sell” is around the corner. If so, it’s worth examining exactly what amount of growth—or what market conditions—would finally convince you to sell.
If you’re hoping for your property to appreciate another 10%, for example, you should keep in mind that property appreciates at an average rate of 4% per year—and this year is expected to be under that. If this is the case, are you comfortable waiting another few years—and maybe more—to sell your home?
You also need to weigh that against the unknowns of the future market.
Rather than trying to time the market—something even experts struggle to do—it may be worth examining alternative ways to save money, like working with Trelora and paying a 1% listing fee (plus 2-3% to the buyer’s agent) for all-inclusive listing services.
If you’re hoping for the conditions of last year to repeat themselves—with historically low interest rates delivering sellers a huge upper hand in negotiations—you should re-evaluate whether your expectations are in line with what is economically probable.
The 2024 Stats Sellers Should Know
As we covered in Will Home Prices Drop in 2024?, most experts expect home prices to either remain relatively stable or drop very slightly.
- Redfin predicts that 2024 will bring some relief to buyers, with home prices and mortgage rates predicted to drop slightly. Coupled with an expected increase in inventory, this could be great news for fatigued buyers.
- BrightMLS expects home prices to remain relatively stable throughout 2024. This would be a welcome shift considering average home prices have risen approximately 13.7% per year from 2019 to 2022.
- Realtor.com also predicts that home prices will drop slightly in 2024, with their estimate being a less than 2% drop
And when it comes to mortgage rates, here’s what we covered in Is 2024 a Good Year to Buy?:
- Realtor.com predicts that interest rates in 2024 will average 6.8%, reaching 6.5% by the end of the year
- The Mortgage Bankers Association is forecasting an even better 2024, with interest rates potentially reaching 6.1% by the end of 2024
- Wells Fargo’s prediction is similar to the MBA, calling for interest rates to hit 6% by the end of the year
Is There Value to Waiting?
Waiting is a gamble because we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen with the housing market. In the long run, your home will gain value—historically, this has always been true. However, home prices can fall for periods of a year or even several years before averaging upward, and this is where you could trip up.
So…is it a good idea to wait?
“It depends,” explains listing agent Faith Longtin. Naturally, many sellers are also about to be buyers. “If you are selling in a very high seller’s market, then be prepared to buy in a very high seller’s market.”
In other words, make sure you’re taking into account all factors of your homeownership goals. Different markets—or times of year—will be beneficial to different needs.
How to Prepare for the 2024 Market
If you’re going to sell your house in 2023, approaching the process with a competitive attitude will likely generate the best results. It’s not you versus the buyers: it’s you versus the other sellers who are also eager to sell their homes for top dollar.
So what’s your first step?
“Having a discussion with a professional and qualified agent about your specific circumstances is crucial,” advises Faith, “An agent is going to help you determine what your home could sell for in the current market—and if that makes sense for you and your family’s personal and financial goals.”
By working with Trelora, your expenses will also be a lot lower—sellers save an average of $12,000 in commissions.
Get Your House in Top Shape
What sort of steps will a Realtor likely advise? One of the big ones will likely be improving your home’s appearance. When interest rates dropped, buyers were willing to pay top dollar for homes with door knobs missing and old carpet. Circumstances today are different. Poor presentation can mean sitting on the market for a long time.
Appearance is a top success factor when it comes to selling a home in 2023. Bad, blurry photographs can dissuade buyers from coming by—yet so many sellers are willing to try and sell their $300,000+ homes with hastily-shot smartphone photos. Similarly, in this market decluttering your home is a must—not a nicety—if you want to attract the maximum number of buyers able to pay your asking price.
“Minimalization will help your home feel spacious and give buyers confidence that their belongings will fit,” explains Denver-based agent Parker Norwood. Parker also suggests some quick and easy steps that can make a big impact. “Make any ‘minor’ repairs that could deter buyers—touch up paint, lightbulbs, door handles, etc. Also, open your blinds for maximum light before showings. People are happier with sunlight!”
Seller Concessions Can Help You Stand Out
When homes were selling quickly, sellers didn’t have to grant buyers many concessions. In fact, the opposite was true: even standard concessions like the appraisal contingency and the inspection contingency were getting dropped thanks to buyer desperation.
The circumstances have changed. In 2024, concessions can incentivize the right buyers to put an offer in on your property rather than your neighbor’s down the street.
“Concessions are a nice alternative to having to fix something,” Parker weighs in. “Instead of making repairs, you can offer concessions instead.” Parker also notes that offering concessions—instead of repairs—can help you reach the closing table on time.
According to Redfin, about 35% of home sellers gave buyers concessions toward the end of 2023.
Poor pricing strategy is guaranteed to stress some home sellers in 2023. It can be tempting to price aspirationally—why not ask for $300,000, even if your Realtor suggests the home is worth $290,000? Someone might pay it, and that’s $10,000 more in your pocket—right?
Unfortunately, there are multiple issues with this approach.
The first problem: your buyers’ Realtors have access to all the same information your Realtor has, so they’ll know if it’s overpriced. And importantly, they’ll know if it’s overpriced compared to other properties they are looking at.
“Agents can pull comps to help determine market value, based on the history of other similar homes in the area,” explains Parker. “Buyers today are more savvy. No buyer wants to overpay, so be prepared.”
Second, your first week on the open market is the most important week. Interest in your listing will fall off quickly after that—and each additional week you’re on the market becomes a liability. Homebuyers are less willing to pay asking price for a home that’s been on the market for 50 days and has gone through two price reductions already.
“With resources for buyers to understand pricing being as attainable as they are, overpricing your home is a one-way ticket to a stale listing,” advises Faith. “Buyers see high days on market as a sign of growing desperation and will tend to low-ball offers.”
Finally, keep in mind that homebuyers often only look at homes within their budget. If you price your $290,000 home at $300,000, some buyers who would be willing to pay $290,000 may never see it in their search.
Opt for Lower Commissions
Nowadays, most people shop for homes online. Years ago, it possibly did cost agents/their brokerages 3% to successfully market and sell a home. Today, however, this commission rate is out of line with modern efficiencies.
Trelora is a modern brokerage that’s revamping real estate. Rather than a 6% commission, Trelora charges 1% for full-service listings, with 2-3% to the buyer’s agent. Unlike other low commission real estate brokerages that cut out needed services like professional photography, agent experience, and open houses, Trelora covers everything for 1%.
Now’s the time to figure out ways to profit the most from your home sale—and Trelora is a top choice for sellers concerned about their bottom line.
Ready to find out more?
So: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait Until 2024?
When you look at the stats and facts, it isn’t really a bad time to list. Media fearmongering is fueling concern among sellers that they’ll put their home for sale and either linger on the market for months, or experience dramatic price reductions.
If you price your home at the correct market value, however, it will likely sell in a reasonable timeframe. The houses that are struggling to leave the market right now are the ones that sellers priced $50,000 too high, hoping that some of the fervor from last year’s market still lingered.
They’ve found out the hard way that 2024 is a new year, and sellers will need to be realistic about pricing and concessions if they want a fast and smooth home sale.
To recap, homeowners can best prepare for selling in 2024 by:
- Chatting early on with a Realtor about what to do
- Offering seller concessions to lure in qualified buyers
- Listing competitively
- Making sure their home is in top condition
- Opting for lower commissions
Faith has one last piece of advice for sellers: “The market changes. What a home sold for 6 months ago may not be the same as what a home would sell for today. Owning a home is such an accomplishment and something to be proud of—find an trusted agent who is going to honor that but also act with honesty and integrity about what your specific sale might look like. Then, take their advice!”