Warning signs for sellers

Elected leaders often quip that all politics is local. That’s true for real estate, too.

In-demand cities and neighbourhoods will always defy broad national trends. Things like quality schools, livability and access to cultural amenities will always help home sellers get top dollar.

But recent numbers are hard to ignore.

The Canadian Real Estate Association’s latest statistics show that national home prices fell by 5.3% on a month-by-month basis in July and the national average home price was $629,971 — down 5% from the previous year.

It appears that both buyers and sellers are waiting to see when and if the market settles before making any moves. The number of listed homes also fell by 5.3%, suggesting that homeowners aren’t quite as quick to put their homes up for sale.

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Still, it’s a good time to sell

Though many leading indicators might suggest we’ve entered a cool-off, a handful of critical factors make now a good time to sell — assuming you’re ready to list:

Demand: Homes may be on the market for longer, but demand remains relatively high, and housing inventory remains low compared to previous years. The East Coast of Canada continues to see home prices rise, and across the Prairies remain about the same.

All-cash: If you live in a low-inventory market, and buyers outnumber properties, sellers can expect to cash in — sometimes literally. The all-cash-offer market is hot right now, which is great news for sellers because cash offers typically speed up the path toward closing. You might even get offers that aren’t dependent on inspections, guaranteeing you receive the offer price.

Rising rates: Though rising interest rates can work against sellers — higher rates mean bigger monthly mortgages — looming hikes will likely prompt some buyers to lock in rates now. The average rate on a five-year fixed mortgage rate is now around 4.85%, significantly higher than a year ago when rates hovered just above 2%.

A good time to wait

There are good reasons to sell. But there are just as many to hold tight.

Your own plan: What happens if your home sells quickly? Do you have a plan for the proceeds from the sale? Do you need to begin the hunt for your new space?

Your new mortgage: If you’re selling because you need a bigger home, that leap up may be unworkable, especially if you’re looking in a popular neighbourhood or city. A new, bigger property can swallow the profit on that just-sold property and still carry a bigger monthly mortgage payment.

Rising rates (again): Those same Bank of Canada rate increases can, of course, work against you as a seller. It will likely reduce the pool of would-be buyers by making it more difficult for conventional-mortgage buyers to afford your property.

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Get good advice

Making a large real estate transaction — as either buyer or seller — starts with a thorough self-audit. Why buy or sell and why now? Take those answers to an experienced agent who knows your area.

An agent is routinely your best compass for what your city or neighbourhood will demand or cost.

More: What to do with your windfall if you sell your house

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Chris Clark Freelance Contributor

Chris Clark is freelance contributor with Money.ca, based in Kansas City, Mo. He has written for numerous publications and spent 18 years as a reporter and editor with The Associated Press.

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