When is a good time to sell the house?

Q: I read your very interesting article (Sept. 7 in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s real estate section) a couple days ago and I have just one question.

I plan on selling my house in Anthem (1,632 square feet) as soon as possible. I have been watching the market since 2005, when there was a death in the family. I know I should have sold then, but everyone said don’t be so hasty. Well, you know what happened. Do you think I should wait until spring to see if the market goes any higher, or sell now? I realize it’s a crystal ball question.

— Veronica D., Henderson

A: You’re right about this being a “crystal ball question.” I normally try to avoid making bold predictions about what has been a roller-coaster real estate market in recent years.

After all, who could have predicted how high local home prices would soar as they boomed until peaking in June 2006 at a median price of $315,000? And who could have predicted how far prices would fall until finally bottoming out when the median price of a single-family home sold in Southern Nevada hit $118,000 in January 2012.

Such questions are personal and individual. The answer usually depends on what’s best for you and your situation. For example, do you have plans to move sometime soon? Do you need to sell your home to buy another one? Can you afford to hold your current home, or rent it out for an extended period of time?

Without knowing more about your specific needs and goals, I can at least share a few thoughts and let you decide what’s best for you.

Predicting what local home prices may do in the future is an inexact science. I can only tell what has been happening. As you may know, local home prices have been rising steadily since the beginning of 2012 and now up 29 percent from where they were one year ago. Local home prices finally dipped slightly in September, but had increased before that for 19 straight months.

This is a pretty good indication that the local housing market has been heading in the right direction —al though I suspect prices will appreciate at a slower rate than they have been for the past year and a half.

With our warm climate, we have smaller seasonal fluctuations in Southern Nevada than places where the winters are much colder. Still, based on historical sales data from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, we generally sell fewer homes in the winter months and sell more homes as the weather gets warmer in the spring and summer.

So, you may find better deals when buying a home in the winter, especially around the holidays, when traffic and sales usually slow down.

As a seller, you may find more potential buyers and could expect to get a slightly better price for your property when demand is usually higher in the spring and summer.

Finally, we have been facing a housing shortage here in Southern Nevada for many months. We’ve been hovering around a five- or six-week supply of available homes to sell. In a more normal housing market, we’d have about a six-month housing supply.

Although our inventory has finally begun to increase in the past few months, I don’t see that changing dramatically anytime soon. If I had to bet, I’d wager on the demand for homes here outpacing supply in the near future.

The only way I see inventory increasing significantly would be if the nation’s largest lenders reverse their recent behavior and begin to dramatically increase the number of homes they foreclose on here. This seems unlikely to me.

Send your real estate questions to ask@glvar.org.

Dave Tina is the 2013 president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and has worked in the real estate industry for more than 35 years. GLVAR has more than 11,000 members. Email questions to ask@glvar.org. For more information, visit www.lasvegasrealtor.com.


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