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For the sake of this article let’s assume that you are planning to sell your home. If you can understand your needs, the current market, and what your options are, you will be able to make good choices about when and how to list your home.

First, you need to define what your goals are. It is important to take a few moments to organize your thoughts and write them down. Usually the first question that needs to be answered is ‘Why do I want to sell my home”. There are many different conditions that can cause you to sell, and each one affects your timeline in a different way. For example, if you have a contract on another home you may have a concrete ideal sale date. If this is a second home and/or the mortgage is paid off you may have a more flexible ideal sale date.

Next you would want to consider your situation if the home doesn’t sell by your ideal sale date. If you are leaving the area you may need to hire lawn maintenance (like Legion Landscaping services) or cleaning companies; if you are purchasing another home you may have two mortgage payments. Consider what issues you may have, and how you would deal with them. The answer to these questions will tell you a lot about pricing your home and how early you should put your home on the market.

Once you have an accurate understanding of your goals you should talk to your Realtor® to discuss marketing times for your area. Once under contract most sales close +/- 30 days, but you need to know how long it may take to get a contract on a home in your area. Your Realtor® has access to information about marketing timeframes in your area, how many homes are being sold, and what the sale prices are. Once familiar with your home any Realtor® with expertise in your area can explain where your home fits into the area averages. After this conversation you should feel confident about when to list your home to best meet your needs.

Lastly, you should ask yourself what you would do if your home sells right away. Some sellers ‘beat the average’ and receive an acceptable offer in the first few days. Understand that you have control over which offers you accept or decline and the details of them, so you are not trapped. However, it is a good exercise to consider such a situation and whether you would be prepared to move quickly. If your ideal sale date is important to you, your Realtor® can include a comment in the MLS stating this.

After answering these questions you should have an understanding about how much time you need to give your Realtor® to sell your home, so that it sells when you need it to. Many people wait until they are ready to move before they call their Realtor®, but it is to your benefit to start talking several months in advance so that you can take advantage of her expertise.