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Time to Sell? Home Prices Surge
WASHINGTON (6/4/13)--If you're considering selling your house, now is the best time in years to do so. This week the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price index reported that housing prices posted their biggest annual gain in seven years, jumping 10.9% in March (Washington Post May 28).

The last time home prices rose so quickly was in 2006, but most analysts aren't worried about another housing bubble. None of the 20 housing markets tracked by Standard & Poor's are back to their peak levels, even those that have climbed 25% from their previous lows (Wall Street Journal May 28). Nationally, home prices are around their 2003 levels.

Driving the surge is a mix of factors, including:

  1. High rents and low interest rates. Mortgage rates have hovered around all-time lows, while in many markets the cost of renting has been comparatively high.
  1. Increased consumer confidence. The private research group Conference Board's sentiment index showed that consumer confidence in May was the highest it's been since 2008 (Bloomberg May 28).
  1. Tight supply. In April there were 2.16 million homes on the market, the fewest for any April since 2001, according to the National Association of Realtors (Bloomberg May 23).
What this means is that your house should sell quickly and at a good--if not at an all-time high-- price. Strong housing markets are seeing multiple offers for the same property, a sign of boom times for real estate. Glenn Kelman, CEO of the online real estate brokerage firm Redfin, said earlier this year in The New York Times that "spring is the Super Bowl of annual real estate sales." June is the month for the highest number of signed contracts.

So if you're thinking about selling, list now, while the weather is good and people are looking to buy. Make sure your property is spic and span, freshly painted inside, and attractive from the curb. Then ask a real estate agent for a market review to help set a price that will move your listing.

Another driver is that signs indicate interest rates for mortgages are rising, potentially dampening demand. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that interest rates on fixed 30-year mortgages rose from 3.78% to an average 3.9% last week amid fears that the improving economy would spur the Federal Reserve to raise borrowing rates (Reuters May 29). It was the biggest single jump in mortgage rates in 14 months.

For related information, read "Move or Remodel: What Calculation Works for You?" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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