Seller Motivation: Why Sell Now?

Throughout my 16 years in the residential Manhattan real estate market, the majority of my business has come from representing sellers in the marketing and negotiation process.  The first 2 questions I ask of all of my sellers is "why are you selling and where will you go?"  I’m often very surprised by the responses.  Many who reach out to me for advice on selling have no immediate plans for where they may go after the sale.  Some suggest that they would rent, others may move to another area of the country, some say they would downsize and of course some just need more space.  But often times, the motivating factor is fear.  Reacting to negative press or a drop in perceived equity in one’s home is the last reason that someone should sell.  Consider the following before you go to market with your home:

  1. What was your plan (time-line) when you purchased the home?…If you were going to stay there for 5-7 years and it’s only been 2, then why are you selling?
  2. Has your job changed or relocated forcing a move?
  3. Are you busting out of your current space? 
  4. Do you need the equity that you have in your home for something else?
  5. Are you a "market watcher?"  The recent phenomenon of viewing real estate as a part of your financial portfolio is exactly that…recent.  Most of our parents and grandparents purchased their homes as a shelter and a place to raise their families.  Stop comparing your home’s value at the peak to what it is now.
  6. If you’re a "flipper" or investor, consider changing your plans to a more long-term objective.
  7. Are you a serious seller or testing the market?  Sellers who "test" the market are just adding to inventory which generally negatively effects prices.

There are a lot of people out there who are making lateral moves or trading up or down for space in today’s real estate market.   Others are seeking a change in geographical area.  In a city like Manhattan with so many transients, many of whom are native New Yorkers (people move a lot here), real estate trades continue to take place but at a less feverish pace than the same time last year.  In many parts of the country where markets feel like they have slammed on the brakes altogether, sellers must seriously consider whether they have an important reason to sell their homes or if they are being motivated by fear.

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