If you’ve decided that 2019 is the year to buy or sell your home you may be wondering about the timing. When is the best time to sell your home? When is the best time to buy? What do you need to do to prepare, and when should you do it? We’ve created this simple home buying and selling real estate calendar for 2019 to help you plan out the process easily, month by month.
If you’re buying a new home and selling yours at the same time, you’ll want to move through these lists simultaneously, and try to coordinate them as well as possible. Or, if you have temporary housing in the meantime, you may wish to do one, then the other.
Your Simple Home Buying and Selling Real Estate Calendar for 2019
How and When to Sell Your Home in 2019
- January: Make a list of major/minor home improvements, and a budget
- February: Tackle inexpensive items, like cleaning
- March: Tackle more expensive items, like new carpets or countertops.
We’ll start our home buying and selling real estate calendar for 2019 with the selling process. The best time to sell your home is in the spring, which gives you about four months to prepare. Start by taking a close look at your home and view it as a potential buyer would. Look for items that are outdated or damaged and make a list. Categorize these items as “major improvements” or “minor improvements.” In particular, pay attention to the following;
- Scratched, nicked, or scuffed paint
- Nicks or holes in drywall
- Leaky sinks or pipes
- Water damage on walls, floors or ceiling
- Leaks in the roof
- Outdated decor
- Damaged or outdated fixtures, like lighting or knobs
- Drafty, dirty, or damaged windows
- Damaged or dirty siding
- Clogged rain gutters
- Dead spots in the yard
- Trees, bushes or gardens in need of maintenance
Many of these items can improve your home sale price dramatically, without requiring much investment. Number these items on your list by priority, so you have a plan for addressing them. Put the most inexpensive items first, like washing windows, cleaning carpets, repainting rooms, and managing gardens. Leave the most expensive items last, like updating countertops, installing new carpets, or installing a new roof, as it’s easy to go over budget with these items.
To avoid losing money on home renovations, decide up front how much you can spend. You might use money from your tax returns, some savings, or money you expect to get back from the sale of your improved home. If you’re counting on an improved sale price, it’s best to underestimate how much your improvements will earn, or the cost of improvements can end up eating into the sale price.
- April: Stage inside and outside of your home, and find a real estate agent.
- May: 1st through the 15th is the best time to list your home.
- June: Wait for the right buyer and offer.
The best time to sell your home is in the spring, at the start of May. You can start preparing in April by putting the finishing touches on your home. This means making your lawn, gardens and the exterior of your home neat and attractive as the snow melts. This also means staging the inside of your home by putting away sentimental items like family pictures, storing or replacing outdated decor, and making the space clean, open and inviting.
April is also a good time to look for a real estate agent. This is particularly important if you are buying and selling at the same time. Coordinating these activities can be tough, but a real estate agent can help you with the timing. To make your home sale go smoothly and to be sure you get the best price possible, it’s important to find the right real estate agent. Your agent should be familiar with the area, tell you how they will help you sell your home, and keep in close contact with you.
- July: A good offer should have come around. Otherwise, reassess your position.
- August: Close the deal.
- September: If you haven’t yet purchased your new home (see next section), you may need to negotiate an extension or find temporary housing.
If you put your home for sale in the spring, you should have received and accepted a good offer by the time summer rolls around. If not, reassess your position and consider ways to speed up your home sale. If you have, the next 30 to 60 days will be all about closing the deal. Fannie Mae estimates a home close to take, on average, about 46 days. How long it takes for your home to close will depend on you, the buyer, and the lender.
During this process—somewhere between June and August—pay attention to deadlines in the purchase agreement and stay in close contact with your real estate agent. Your agent will let you know about any obstacles, such as problems after an inspection or appraisal.
If you’re trying to buy your new home while selling your existing home, your real estate agent can also help you negotiate extensions, so you don’t have to find temporary housing while the deals close. If you haven’t yet found a new home, skip to the fall section of the buying stage in our home buying and selling real estate calendar for 2019.
- October: Time to move out! If you’re buying another home, get your pre-approval documents in order. (see next section)
- November: Get pre-approved for your new home and start looking (see next section)
- December: Time to purchase your new home!
By the end of summer, your home sale should be closed, which means it’s time to move in fall. If you negotiated an extension or accepted an buyer’s contingency offer, you may still be waiting to move out of your old home and into your new one.
To make the process as easy as possible, it’s best to go through both sections of the home buying and selling real estate calendar for 2019 simultaneously (unless, of course, you’re moving into your first home). However, if you haven’t found a new home yet, you may be just in time to go into the best time to buy a home. Skip to the fall of the next section.
Prepare to Buy Your Home in 2019
- January: Get your pre-approval documents in order.
- February: Shop for lenders.
- March: Get pre-qualified.
Winter is, in some ways, the best time to buy a home, since home prices tend to be lowest. However, this also means there are fewer homes on the market, and you might not find the one you’re looking for during this time.
If you’re going through this buying and selling schedule simultaneously, start the buying part of your journey by getting your financial documents in order in the winter of 2019. Or, you may want to wait until the end of the year, shortly after you’ve sold your existing home. If you start early, you’ll have two chances to find your new home; in the summer, near the time you’ve most likely sold your original home, and in the winter, when home prices are lowest. Choose whichever way works best for you.
You’ll need a variety of documents for mortgage pre-approval, which will show you how much you can afford, what type of house you should look for, and it will make your offer stronger. Collect documents like previous taxes, W-2s, bank account information, and credit card statements, among others. Then you’ll want to choose a lender. You might choose your local credit union, your preferred bank, or a private lender. Take some time to shop around and see where you can get the best interest rate.
- April: Submit your documents for pre-approval with your preferred lender.
- May: Make a list of wants and needs for your new home, and start searching.
- June: Contact a real estate agent, start touring homes. Confirm that you are pre-approved.
Once you’ve collected your documents and selected a lender, submit them for pre-approval. Keep in mind that pre-qualification and pre-approval are different. You’re probably already pre-qualified, but you’ll need pre-approval for your offer to really hold up, especially in a competitive market.
If this seems too soon to be pre-approved, keep in mind it can take between 30 to 60 days for the process to be complete. Your mortgage approval will probably be valid for about 90 days. This means, if you submit your documents for approval at the start of spring, you should be approved by the middle or end, which will give you the end of spring to the beginning of summer to look for your new home. If you prefer to look for your new home in the winter when prices are lowest, delay this step until the fall, so your 90 day window will fall within the winter of the following year.
While your approval is pending, take this time to start looking for homes and narrow down your search. Decide what you must have in a home, and what you might compromise on. Select your preferred locations, and a price range that fits your lender’s terms as well as your budget. Write these things down, so you have a clear reference point when you start looking at homes.
By June, you should have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. You may even have a home in mind. At this stage, if you haven’t already, contact a real estate agent. Your agent will not only help you find the perfect home, but they’ll also help you get the right price, and negotiate your terms.
- July: Narrow down your list of homes and submit an offer. Cross your fingers!
- August: Your offer is accepted! Time to close the deal.
- September: If you are buying on contingency and your current home hasn’t sold yet, you may need to negotiate an extension.
When you receive pre-approval, either at the end of spring or the start of summer, it’s time to get serious about home shopping. By this time, you should have toured a few homes. Hopefully, one or two have met your needs. It’s time to submit an offer.
When your offer is accepted, it’s time to start the closing process. You may already be on the other side of this on your home sale. No matter which way you do it, it takes, on average, about 46 days. Once again, pay close attention to deadlines, and stay in close contact with your agent. Earnest money, inspections, and appraisals will, once again, be very important.
Be confident, but don’t be afraid to walk away if the house isn’t what you thought, even if this means disrupting your simultaneous home sale and purchase. It’s better for your timing to be a bit off rather than ending up with a house you don’t really want. Remember that you can ask for an extension and shop for a home later in the year too.
- October: Time to move in! Or, if you missed your window, this is your second chance to buy. Re-submit your pre-approval documents to purchase your home in the winter.
- November: If you’re moved in, kick back and relax. If you’re aiming to buy in winter, start your home search and contact your agent.
- December: December and January are the best times to buy your home, as prices are lowest. Narrow down your search and make an offer this month, or the first month of the following year.
If you home purchase went according to plan, you should be ready to move in by the fall. If you decided to wait until the winter to buy your home, you’ll want to submit your pre-approval documents in September or October, so you can start your home search in the fall and buy in December or January, when prices are lowest. If you didn’t find a home you were looking for in the summer, or the sale somehow fell through, don’t be discouraged! This is your second chance to re-submit for approval and find the perfect home in the quieter winter season.
Selling your current home and buying a new one at the same time isn’t easy, but it can be done. Use this simple home buying and selling real estate calendar for 2019 as a roadmap, and don’t be afraid to improvise when needed. With careful planning and help from an expert, you can buy and sell your home smoothly in 2019.
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