Sellers and the Home Buyer Credit

PorticoIn the upcoming months, many buyers will be looking to take advantage of the recently extended and expanded home buyer credit. In order to qualify for the credit, buyers must have a fully signed and accepted contract in place by April 30, 2010 and must close on the property no later than June 30, 2010. If you’re thinking about selling your home in 2010, how does this credit affect you?

1. Expect to see the normal Spring Market (March through early June) pulled up into the earlier part of the year. If buyers are planning on purchasing next year, I believe many of them will try to take advantage of the credit, as it’s not likely to be extended further. This means that they need to make their decision on a home no later than April 30. If you are a seller of a first time buyer home and would like to have access to this large buyer pool, you’ll probably want to list your house earlier in the year than you may have previously. Maybe you were planning on waiting until May when the flowers come up and your yard looks nicest. I would argue that you strongly consider listing in March so that there is a window for buyers to see your home and you have maximum exposure. Remember, you don’t need to close until June 30, so if you’re timing the ending of school, there should be enough of a window.

2. Have an agent come through your home now and discuss what you should be working on in the next few months in order to prepare for a sale. The agent should help you prioritize projects that will help your home show better, which is one component of a quicker sale.

3. Realize that there will be additional competition from other sellers trying to capitalize on the larger buyer pool, so your property must really show well and be priced right. This is always the goal for sellers, but it will be particularly important this spring. If you need to, tour some competitor homes with your agent to see how they show and how they’re priced. This can help guide you on pricing and changes you may need to make.

4. If you’re a seller that is also looking to subsequently purchase, talk with a mortgage lender in the next month or so. They will help you understand if you can purchase without selling your home or if you do need to sell in order to make another purchase. This is important information to understand before you list your home for sale, as it will affect how you evaluate offers, manage closing dates, and how you’ll proceed on your home search.