Ask the Realtor

Dear Darrell:
I have been thinking about selling my house, but want to do it at the optimal time. I see one day in the news that the real estate market is getting better, and then the next day see that it isn’t. I can’t wait forever to sell my house, but on the other hand, I don’t want to sell it today and then discover that I could have sold it for a lot more six months from now.

Libbie R.

Dear Libbie:
That is a tough question. There are so many things which go into the decision to sell. It’s sounds like you aren’t under the gun to sell, and so you have some flexibility as to when to put your house on the market. In some ways that makes the decision all the harder, because absent an outside driving force, you are left with trying to “read” the market in order to determine the best time. In that task you are joining a large company of realtors, economists and others who are constantly trying to do that very thing.

The current reality of our market is that it is sporadic. It changes direction from week to week, neighborhood to neighborhood, and price range to price range. The general overall trend, however, is in the direction of a higher number of sales. In the past few months, the number of sales has been increasing, but compared to last year at this time, the average prices are lower. This is in large part because the strongest part of the market has been lower-priced properties being purchased by buyers who were looking for the $8000 tax credit. That makes the numbers spike but lowers the average sale price.

In your case, I suggest you find a realtor who will help you analyze your local market for the number and frequency of sales and the ratio of list price to sale price. If you look at that data closely, you will probably be able to reasonably conclude whether now is a good time to sell. It may come down to deciding if you can live with the price you can likely negotiate for your house at this point.

Darrell Parsons is the managing broker of the Georgetown Long and Foster office and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity regulations. Have a real estate question? E-mail him at He blogs at

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