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Is Now a Good Time to Sell Your House?

October 16, 2020

The pandemic has put a lot of plans on hold, but your move doesn’t have to be one of them.

New Emerald Heights residents made the move during the COVID-19 pandemic and already fell right at home.

Timing is everything. That can be especially true when it comes to selling your home. Naturally, all homeowners want to get the best possible price when you sell your house. But for older adults who are making what could be their last move, it’s even more important to get top dollar to protect assets.

It’s challenging enough during “normal” times to know when to put your house on the market. So how in the world do you decide now to sell your house, when times are anything but normal? Since we can’t peer into the future, the next best thing is to seek the advice of experts, those who analyze trends and markets and make forecasts.

If you joined us for our July webinar, From “For Sale” to “Sold Fast,” you heard some encouraging information from Matthew Gardner, the chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, as well as the father-and-son team of Jim and Bill Badgley, who are the managing brokers at Badgley Real Estate Services. If you missed the webinar, we’ll touch on some of the webinar’s main points. Also, we’ll let you know what, if anything, has changed since then.

We’ll also share with you some insights from two of the newest members of our community, Kristi and Louie Pagano, who moved to Emerald Heights in mid-June. After years of contemplating which senior living community they would eventually call home, they made up their minds late last year, intending to move here in April. But then, as it did for countless people, the pandemic upended their plans. Read on to find out why they’re “thrilled” to be here now.

The Local Housing Market: Demand Continues to Outpace Supply

In the first part of the July webinar, Matthew Gardner provided a synopsis of what had happened to the economy and, by extension, the local housing market, in the first few months of the pandemic.

As expected, the shutdown in March led to steep job losses, primarily in the leisure, travel, and service industries, including hotels and restaurants, and “main street” retail (i.e., brick-and-mortar merchants other than grocery stores). Among the hardest-hit areas were those that rely heavily on tourism — places like Las Vegas, and parts of California and Florida. The Seattle area, by comparison, fared better and by July had already begun to bounce back because the industries that drive our local economy are more diverse.

“Remarkably low” mortgage rates are another factor fuelling the demand for new listings. 

Matthew pointed out that even though the economy in King County had been doing well for quite some time leading up to this year, new home building was not as robust as it should have been. As a result, the demand for single-family homes generally outpaced supply. Add to that the fact that people are living in their homes longer than they were 10 to 15 years ago, which means there’s less turnover, and it’s easy to see why average list prices increased significantly during the eight-year period leading up to 2020.

Looking ahead, Matthew said he sees potential job growth in Bellevue and Redmond because of Amazon, and he believes that growth will further increase the demand for housing.

“Remarkably low” mortgage rates are another factor fueling the demand for new listings. Matthew said he hasn’t seen rates this low in his 30-plus years in the business, and he doesn’t think we’ll see rates “north of 4%” until sometime in 2022.

In short, although Matthew acknowledged that forecasting is “problematic” because so much depends on what we all can (or will) do to curb the spread of COVID-19, he said the housing market is robust and he doesn’t think it will “turn south.”

A Seller’s Market, Despite the Pandemic

In the second part of the webinar, Bill Badgley agreed with Matthew that home prices are high and holding relatively steady because the demand in our area is greater than the supply of available listings. Overall, he said, the pandemic has had little effect on inventory; it increased somewhat in April but was back down again a month later.

A June 25 blog post on the Badgley Real Estate Services website suggests that along with the additional “buying power” potential buyers have because of the low mortgage rates, there are two other reasons that buyers are motivated to sell their house. Both are a direct result of people staying at home more these last several months. First, many people are spending less than they normally would have, so more people have been able to save enough for a down payment. Second, some have found that being confined to a relatively small space has made them want a larger home.

In a September 11 news release posted on the same website, Jim Badgley cited several real estate professionals and the August report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) as evidence of a continued strong market for sellers in King County and the surrounding area.

“With an insufficient supply, prices are appreciating at double-digit rates in most counties in the NWMLS report,” he wrote.

But Is It a Good Time to Move?

Is now the right time to sell your house?

Even though you may be able to get a really good price for your house, you might be wondering whether you should even be thinking about moving right now. To help address at least some of your concerns, we want to pass along some perspective from the Pagano’s, who moved to Emerald Heights on June 10, 2020.

As we noted earlier, Kristi and Louie began planning their move before anyone had an inkling of the chaos the coronavirus would cause. By signing up for our Off-Site Resident Program in 2018, they’d had the opportunity to get to know our community and some of their future neighbors. Kristi said participating in the program changed her timetable for moving to Emerald Heights.

“I became convinced that it was somewhere I would like to live now and then really appreciate for the later stages of life, as well,” she said, referring to the lifestyle of our Life Care community.

The Right Time to Sell Your House

When their first choice of apartments became available in December, Louie knew that it could be years before it would be available again, so he thought they should go ahead and make the move. He also wanted to act while they could sell their house at peak price.

He and Kristi put their house on the market just in time before the stay-at-home order, and, fortunately, their house sold quickly.

“We’re really happy to be here,” Kristi said. “Yes, things are different from what we’d seen before COVID, certainly, but it’s still a very friendly neighborhood. We felt at home right away.”

“One of the big things for me,” she continued, “I am delighted that in this year, when everything is shut down and so many people had their plans put on hold, we accomplished this transition. … I feel like we’ve had a real accomplishment …, and I’m happy about that.”

“[We have] tremendous peace of mind here. We like the lifestyle now, and we have the peace of mind that whatever comes in our future, we are well-positioned to deal with it.”

Not Ready to Move Quite Yet? We Have Options for You!

If you’re still not sure about moving, or if you’re pretty sure you want to sell your house but the pandemic is making you hesitate, we have some possibilities for you to consider.

Delay Paying Your Full Entrance Fee

We realize that right now, as we’re all trying to limit our exposure to the coronavirus, the thought of having people come into your house to prep it for listing and then having real estate agents show it to prospective buyers might make you feel uneasy. So, we’ve worked out a process that allows you to delay paying your full entrance fee and only pay a percentage of the entrance fee and move in right away. You can then make your house market-ready without the additional worry of COVID-19-related risks. We’ll work out a time frame with you for paying the balance of your entry fee.

Future Resident Program

Another option is to take part in our Future Resident Program. All that requires is filling out an application and making a partially refundable deposit. This establishes your priority waitlist date. So when a residence becomes available, you have a place in line that grants you the right of refusal based on your date. You also receive invitations to events and webinars, as well as on-site activities when we can safely resume them. You can join this program several years ahead of your intended goal for moving in. There are no restrictions on how often you can refuse available residences.

Off-Site Resident Program

We also offer our Off-Site Resident Program. With this program, you go through the usual approval process as if you’re getting a home here at Emerald Heights. You pay the entrance fee for a studio apartment and a percentage of the monthly fees. In return, you receive all of the benefits of being a member of our community — including the Life Care benefit. When you decide you’d like to move into Emerald Heights, you’re given priority as homes become available. Additionally, the entrance fee you’ve already paid is applied toward the fee for your new home.

Financial Fit Calculator

If you’re thinking about when to sell your house, now is the time to plan for your financial future. To explore which residential options at Emerald Heights would be a good fit for your particular financial situation, try our easy-to-use Financial Fit Calculator. Just answer seven simple questions about your age, income, and assets, and the calculator will do the rest. The information you provide is secure and will not be shared with any third-party entities.

How Can Emerald Heights Help You?

If you would like to know more about these options or Emerald Heights, give us a call at 866-553-4576. Or, fill out our contact form and we’ll respond promptly.

We’re also happy to schedule a personal appointment and tour for you.

Rest assured that we are adhering to the COVID-19 safety guidelines established by the CDC for your protection and the well-being of all Emerald Heights residents and staff members.

Read More: Life Care: What It Is. What It Could Mean to You.