What to Consider Before Selling a House

Selling a home can be a complex and sometimes stressful time in your life, but knowing what to consider before selling a house or condo can help you make the best choices.

Selling a House is a Big Decision

Selling a house is a big decision that easily can consume a lot of your time and energy. That's why its important to think about the things that will impact you the most.

Below we go over some of the biggest considerations to help make the best choices when selling your home in Northern Michigan, including:

Personal Situations & Life Events

One of the biggest factors that influence when homeowners sell is a life-changing event. These might include:

  • Job change or relocation: If someone gets a new job in a different city, they may need to sell their home immediately in order to move.
  • Marriage or divorce: A change in marital status can lead someone to sell their home and either buy a new one or downsize.
  • Having a baby: An new addition to the family may require a bigger home with more bedrooms, or sometimes require downsizing to reduce expenses.
  • Retirement: Some people may decide to sell their home and downsize or move to a retirement community after they retire.
  • Health issues: When dealing with health issues, some may need to move to a smaller, more manageable home, or to an assisted living facility.
  • Financial change: An unforeseen financial change, such as a loss of income, could lead to the decision to sell a home.
  • Investment opportunity: Some people may choose to sell their home to invest in another property or business opportunity.
  • Inheritance: Someone may decide to sell an inherited property if they don't have any sentimental attachment or simply don't want to live there.

When the timing of a life-altering event is out of your control, the choice of when to sell is often made for you.

But even when time is on your side, it's important to make the most of your selling situation. Our Home Selling Guide can help.


The spring is the most popular time to list a home for sale Up North in Michigan. When these new home listings start to flood the market in May and June, the competition amongst sellers also increases substantially.

This means competition! There are simply more sellers chasing fewer buyers.

In order to get ahead of competing sellers, it's increasingly common for sellers to list their homes in February or March before everyone else.

To stay on top of these and other trends, be sure to read our local housing market reports for Petoskey and Harbor Springs.

Off Season Selling

It's not a secret that late fall and winter are not the best times to sell a house. But seasonality is starting to have less of an impact.

The vast majority (95%) of buyers are going to find your home online and through your agent. So while warmer weather is always best, selling in the colder months isn't as penalizing as it once was.

If you are selling in the off season, make sure to account for these seasonal challenges:

  • Try to get photos and videos taken when the weather is still nice.
  • Leaves should be raked and gutters should be clean.
  • Snow and ice must be maintained for appearance and safety of interested buyers.
  • Shorter and darker days mean you might have showings after sundown, so make sure your home is well lit.
  • Keep your schedule open and be extra accommodating to buyer schedules.

Just remember, even when selling in the off season, the same basic principles apply as for selling in the busier seasons.

Your home's price should be in-line with current market values, and everything should be as orderly and cleaned-up as possible.

Competition & Pricing Pressure

The busy spring season's increased selling competition also can put downward pressure on home prices.

This is especially true in a bad economy where high interest rates, inflation, and other economic conditions make it difficult for buyers to secure loans or come up with cash.

To beat back the competition, home sellers should pay close attention to their pricing. You might only get one chance to snag a buyer before they move on to the next listing.

As a seller, you also should make sure your home is in the best condition possible. Your goal should be to make your house stand above the crowd and be more desirable than the competition.

Timing the Market

It may be tempting to think that, for example, mortgage rates will be lower at some point in the near future, leading to a better market with more buyers than today.

But lower rates might not matter if inflation remains high.

Also consider that today's buyers may have secure jobs when tomorrow's buyers may not.

There simply is no crystal ball that foretells tomorrow's housing market will be more or less favorable than today's.

This is why, for most home sellers, we recommend selling as soon as the time is right for you. In our experience, both personally and professionally, that time is usually right now.

Local Pro Tip: "Don't try to time the market," says Norther Michigan realtor Jeff Kazmierski. "Too many sellers forget that today's opportunities might not be there tomorrow. With few exceptions, just sell when you're ready so you can focus on what's next for you."
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Selling When the Time is Right for You

Ultimately, every home seller's situation and motivation for selling is unique to them.

And some people may not have the luxury of choosing when they sell their home.

During the spring and summer, the local real estate market definitely comes alive. There are more people in town and kids are out of school.

But there's also a lot more competition for buyers from other sellers during the warmer seasons.

On the other hand, especially here in Northern Michigan, the winter season makes selling a little more difficult due to snow, colder temperatures, and shorter days.

But there's a lot less competition during the winter and buyers may be more serious and more motivated.

There are always tradeoffs!

Just remember that no matter when you sell, the most important considerations are things you have the most control over:

  1. Price: Above all else, pricing to sell is the most important factor in determining how quickly (or if) a home sells. Learn more: How to Price Your Home
  2. Condition: All other things being equal, a house and property that are in tip-top shape will sell faster and at higher prices. Learn more: How to Get Your Home Ready to Sell
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