There are many philosophies about the best time to list your apartment. It’s important to realize that no one rule fits all here, and that different people respond to external factors in different ways. Seasons, for example, can affect your timing: some people only list apartments during seasons when more buyers are around. And, if you have an outside space, it’s more attractive when the weather is nice than when it’s snowing.
What’s going on in your neighborhood can also affect your timing. If your neighbor’s apartment is on the market it could be a great time to sell, because someone might want to purchase both apartments and create a combined floor plan. Other times there might be too much inventory on the market and you might not want to fight for every buyer. Sometimes an identical apartment might be for sale in your building at an astronomical price, and if you list at that time you could use their high price to attract buyers to your apartment at a lower price. Some people choose to sell sooner rather than later because they believe interest rates will go up and buyers will be able to spend less tomorrow than they can today.
Timing your listing boils down to three basic things.
1. Supply vs. Demand. If you are going to be the only show in town, people will pay more to see you. They will pay more for your apartment because there are no other options.
2. Market Perception. If people are very positive on the market, it’s a good time to sell. If people are fearful, it’s not the best time to sell. No one has a crystal ball, so no one knows whether in the next week a few articles will come out about a slow market, or create fear about interest rates.
3. The Personal Factor. Take one of our clients on the Upper East Side who worked in finance. During a visit to his apartment, we noticed there were computer monitors everywhere. He informed us that he was sure the real estate market was going to collapse. He showed us charts on mortgages and when adjustable rate mortgages were going to reset, causing borrowers to go into foreclosure. This guy knew his stuff. And history has shown that he was correct.
However, after an entire conversation about selling his apartment, he decided not to sell at that time because he was not ready to move. It was puzzling that someone with so much conviction about the future of the market would wait to sell. But it goes to show that the market and your belief in where it’s headed are not the only factors when you are looking to sell — the personal factor sometimes trumps them all.
With our experience in real estate, we have assisted many clients with various decisions on timing. We help them choose a strategy that responds to the market, so they can play their cards accordingly. The most important thing we recommend to clients is to make the best decision they can, with the information they have at their disposal, and don’t look back. If you ended up selling too early, or too late, that does not mean you made a mistake. It means new facts are now available that were not available then.
Your broker should provide you with the facts regarding the market now, and discuss all these various pro’s and con’s of timing, but in the end, they are your advisor, and you are the decision maker.