Real Talk: How do you know when it’s the right time to sell?

Real Talk: How do you know when it’s the right time to sell?
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By Mary Ellen Rotondo

If you’ve ever owned a home, you’ve probably wondered, “When is the right time to sell?” It’s a question that you can’t help asking yourself when the real estate market is hot like it’s been over the last year.

When the COVID-19 pandemic provided so many dreary headlines, residential real estate provided an economic bright spot. As home became the center of our universe – the single place where we worked, schooled, played, lived and thrived – buyer demand for homes skyrocketed. Buyers have been strong in the marketplace for the last 12 months, but listings have been, and continue to be, in relatively short supply and lagging behind buyer demand.

The sellers’ market that we are witnessing has been fueled by historically low interest rates, post-pandemic shutdown lifestyle changes and a housing inventory shortage. Prices throughout the Northern Virginia region have been driven up as buyers have competed for listings. Sellers have been receiving multiple contract offers and clean contracts which waive home inspections and other contingencies.

Last month, the average home price in the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) footprint, which covers Fairfax and Arlington counties, along with the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church, was $741,574 up 14.6% over the same period last year according to NVAR. In the Alexandria market, home prices have gone up 12.4% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $615,000, according to Redfin. On average, homes in Alexandria sell within 15 days of entering the market, compared to 26 days last year. Clearly, it’s a very good time to be a seller.

The decision to sell a home is more complex than a math equation or an economic assessment, however. For most people, a home is likely the largest financial investment, and the most personal purchase, they will ever make. Homes provide both tangible and intangible benefits to homeowners including shelter, safety, privacy and personal space for working, schooling and living your life moments with friends and loved ones. Home is a lot more than a place to rest in between life events.

Experience has shown that decisions based on overall priorities and personal goals are sound ones. If your home fits your long-term needs, or has great emotional attachment for you, you might want to stay in it. If your home doesn’t support your evolving lifestyle or prevents you from reaching your potential, it might make sense to sell it and find another home that fits your needs better.

It used to be that spring was the busiest time in the residential real estate market and your best chance for selling at a fair price. These days, the data shows that purchase activity and pricing is strong across all seasons. Thus, if you decide that now is the right time to sell, you don’t need to wait for a particular season or annual event to prepare for and enter the market.

There are many valuable resources you can consult regarding the real estate market and your home’s value, including local real estate agents, NVAR and online consumer-facing sites such as, Redfin and Zillow. It’s always good to know your home’s value and keep your finger on the pulse of your local real estate market.

The writer is a licensed realtor at McEnearney Associates, who operates in Virginia and D.C. For additional questions, contact her at