Feb 5, 2024
Thinking about selling your house in 2024? While many home sellers wait until spring to put their property on the market, there are some distinct advantages to getting ahead of the curve this year and listing sooner rather than later.
Generally, the cold weather season causes home sales to be sluggish, but this winter is a bit different. High interest rates kept much of America’s real estate market in a deep freeze for most of 2023. But now that rates have subsided a bit in the new year, there is a whole lot of pent-up demand (and supply) that could burst onto the market at any moment. Some of it is out there already.
When selling a home, timing can make a difference: Home prices rise and fall, similar to stocks. Head to market at the peak moment, and you can stack the deck in your favor and reap higher profits and better terms.
So, should you list your property now? Read on for some reasons why you might want to be the early bird of the 2024 real estate market.
1. Mortgage rates are falling
One of the main reasons home sellers were reluctant to sell in 2023 had to do with mortgage interest rates. In late October, rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage reached a 23-year high of 7.79%.
This created a “lock-in” effect: Homeowners felt stuck in their houses since, if those properties sold—and they had to buy a new house—they would have to get a new mortgage at a much higher rate.
Indeed, Realtor.com reported that around two-thirds of homeowners had mortgages with an interest rate below 4%. More than 90% had a rate lower than 6%.
This, in turn, means home sellers won’t lose out as much by trading in their current mortgage for a new one.
“Most sellers, especially those who have lived in their homes for several years, will be able to walk away from a transaction in a good position,” says Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale.
2. Housing inventory is still low
While the market has been stiff, sellers still have one big advantage: Housing inventory is low.
“The housing supply is still well under the historical ‘balanced market’ number of six months’ supply,” says Cindy Allen, a real estate agent in the Dallas and Fort Worth, TX, area. “This lack of available homes means a property can still be the center of attention.”
A home “can fetch a quick offer if [it is] listed right now, in good condition and at the right price,” she adds.
This is especially true for unique or special homes, says Jonathan Spears, Realtor® and founder of Spears Group.
“Quality is always in high demand,” he says. In his Florida market, these homes are “selling at the highest frequency they ever have.”
Spears also points out that sellers can still take advantage of inflation still being high because most people “can’t go out and build the house that you have at a better price point.”
Generally, he says, buyers have to work with the inventory that’s out there.
“If I were a homeowner and I had something that’s quality, I would be in the mood to sell,” he says.
3. More buyers may soon enter the market
In recent months, high mortgage rates, rising home prices, and inflation have priced many buyers out of the market. But now, with mortgage rates finally dipping, experts predict some of those buyers will come out of hibernation, unleashing their pent-up demand on the few sellers smart enough to be on the market.
With more buyers will likely come more homes on the market, which “will inevitably lead to increased competition among sellers,” Allen says.
If sellers list now, they might be able to enjoy less competition before other sellers crowd the market.
4. Home sellers won’t have to work as hard
Seasonally, experts say the first months of the year can be a great time to sell.
Cedric Stewart of Entourage RG of Keller Williams in the Washington, DC, area points out that the beginning of the year can be a surprisingly beneficial time to list.
Many people find themselves with extra cash from work bonuses and tax refunds. This could lead to more (and higher) bids.
Stewart acknowledges that homeowners who list in the winter months typically won’t get as many offers as those who list in the summer as there aren’t as many people house hunting. Still, he says that those few offers in the cold season could be more meaningful, as sellers might not have to work so hard to get them.
“In June, you may get more offers, but there may be four or five other homes that folks are looking at that are similar to yours,” he says. “You may not be the belle of the ball. You may have to make some improvements to be the shining star. Whereas people that need to move in January, you’re probably the only game in town. And so they have to deal with you. Because the reality is, the people who need to move right now, need to move right now.”
5. Sellers who also plan to buy can beat the crowds
Another advantage of selling now is that homeowners can both get a good price on their home and move into their next place before the market starts heating up.
The best time to move is when there isn’t too much buyer competition, says Stewart. Sellers who get out of their homes now can still enter the market as a buyer “before the prices get spring- and summer-crazy,” he says.
Spears agrees, saying conditions can bring about a win-win situation for current homeowners.
“We’re coming back to a market where you can still sell at a really reasonable price, and then if you turn around and buy again, you have more options and more negotiating power than you’ve ever had,” says Spears. “And so you get this rare opportunity where you can still potentially sell high and you could buy low.”
6. Personal reasons to sell often trump market uncertainty
While timing the market when listing a property can work to a seller’s advantage, homeowners should not be dissuaded from listing if they need to move, whether for a job, change in family size, retirement, or any other reason.
“The primary motivation often isn’t just financial. Personal needs matter, too,” Allen says. “Sometimes sellers need to remind themselves why they wanted to move in the first place. If there’s a change in their life, or they need different things out of a home, there are always options to help make a move possible.”