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When to Decide to Sell a Home at a Loss

Posted Thursday, October 11, 2012

The decision about deciding to sell a home at a loss is obviously both a personal and a business decision. If the reasons are personal in nature the decision that is made is more a matter of need than analytical in nature.

From an economic viewpoint, there are several factors to consider:
  • What are comparable homes selling for in the neighborhood?
  • Does the house have any equity, or would the sale leave no funds back?
  • Would the mortgage be more than the selling price?
  • Is the neighborhood deteriorating?
  • What alternative housing would be available?
The most important factor is the status of the neighborhood and the selling prices of comparable housing. If the neighborhood is deteriorating and suffering from the terrible blight that many older neighborhoods do, then it is time to sell. If the comps are lower in price than what the owners paid for the house, then it is not likely that the house will sell for more money than the comps are asking. Often, the question is not should we sell, but should we sell now? The answer is if all of the indicators point to a downward spiral over time, then why not sell when the house will bring more money than it will a year later.

It would be useful to check with the local police department for statistics on crime in the area, and a breakdown of the type of crimes. This data will have a bearing on when to sell, and perhaps it would be a factor in the longer-term value of the house.

When sell my house is a question, it is also important to consider whether the mortgage is more than the house is worth. If the house will continue to fall in value, then the question is easy to answer; take the loss while it is as small as it is. If the house will sell for less than is owed on it, a “short sale” might be the answer. Otherwise, the house could not be sold without the owner adding funds to pay off the mortgage.

Another answer to when to sell my house is a review of the possibility that the price will increase as many house prices are at this time. If the outlook for a better resale market is good, it might pay to stay the course.

The question that one has to answer is where is the next residence located? Of course, this decision will depend on how much equity is available to use.