When is the Best Time to Buy or Sell Real Estate

Homes for sale in VermontAs a real estate agent and broker at Pleasant Valley Real Estate, I am often asked when is the best time to buy or sell real estate. I always reply, “When you are ready!” Regardless of anything else going on in the world—interest rates, the housing market, the economy—you have to be emotionally and financially ready to buy or sell a house or land or any other type of property. People always want to get a financial edge, some sort of deal, and I certainly don’t blame them, but trying to time your entry or exit in the Vermont real estate market can be difficult.

In a lifetime, the opportunities can be rare for “perfect timing” of anything. In real estate, perfect timing is sporadic. From the buyer’s perspective, perfect timing would be having financing on hand during a down market and taking advantage of the 2009 tax credits made available to help stimulate the housing market. Being able to buy or refinance in 2012, when interest rates were at historical lows, is also good timing. From the seller’s perspective, selling a home in 2006 at the market’s peak, just prior to the housing crash, is remarkable timing!

Bad timing would be the opposite of all the above. For example, you bought a house in 2005 near the peak of the housing market, but had to sell it in 2009 do to a job relocation. Most likely you took a loss. Another example is your mortgage is more than the value of your home and you can’t refinance to take advantage of the historically low interest rates. Or you bought a vacation property in Florida in 2004 and 10 years later it is not worth what you paid for it. (More on that later.)

If you are an investor of any kind, you certainly spend time trying to play the odds. As the expression goes, “The money is in the buy.” However, investors generally have cash on hand to invest; therefore entry and exit of their investments can usually be timed to their advantage. But even investors experience loss, despite good planning.

Most of us fall somewhere in between the highs and lows of the money market. Daily life continues, and we can’t always be selective about the best time to buy or sell real estate.

Now… about that vacation property in Florida. Several years ago my husband and I purchased his parents’ home in Florida to help them out. We paid $185,000 in 2004, and a series of circumstances kept us from reselling in a timely fashion. Then 2008 came and went and we watched the property steadily decline in value. We hung on, we brought in full-time tenants, and we did upgrades and maintenance every year.

If I could wait another five years and be willing to invest another $25,000 in upgrades, we might come out of this game in the lead. However, owning real estate in Florida 1,500 miles away from Vermont, is stressful. I am ready to be done!

So, I am listening to my own advice that the best time to sell real estate is when you are ready. I am ready! My husband and I are both ready and as investors this may be a good year to take a financial loss (we have a child in college). While interest rates are still very good, they are no longer at historical lows. This may be a very good time to buy, especially if you are in a purchasing range that would be affected by a mortgage rate increase. But only if you are ready. (Want to buy a house in Florida?)

For many people, real estate can be one of life’s biggest investments. If you are considering buying a house, it is certainly helpful if you are ready to take on all the responsibilities that come with home ownership. But in the end, the best time to buy and the best time to sell is a toss-up. It all comes down to whatever it takes for you to be ready.

When you are ready to buy or sell real estate (or if you want to purchase my home in Florida) give me a call at 802-858-9193 or send me an email. I’d be happy to help you figure out the best time to buy or sell real estate!

Lea Van Winkle, Owner/Broker

Pleasant Valley Real Estate


Posted in Pleasant Valley News, Rural Vermont Real Estate.