Three reasons to sell your home now instead of later

by Badgley Phelps | Jul 23, 2019

If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, following are three reasons you might want to consider selling in 2019 instead of waiting until 2020.

Reason 1: You could avoid an increase in taxes, depending on where you live.

An excise tax is a tax on the transfer of ownership of a home and is typically paid by the seller at closing. Depending on where you live, your excise tax could increase next year. Recently, Washington state changed the structure of its real estate excise tax so that high-dollar properties sold will be taxed more. For example, a home sold for between $1.5 and $3 million will be taxed 2.75 percent in 2020, compared to 1.28 percent in 2019. So, if you sold your $2 million home in 2019, you’d pay $25,600 in taxes on the sale—versus $55,000 in 2020.

That increase is on top of capital gains tax you might pay if you make money on the sale of a home. (Not all home sales are subject to capital gains tax.) High-income taxpayers pay the highest amount of capital gains tax on the sale of a home at 20 percent. Some of that can be excluded, depending on income and filing status—typically as much as $500,000 on the gain.

According to Trulia, the median home with four bedrooms or more in the Seattle area saw a 75 percent increase in price between 2009 and 2019. If you bought your home for $2 million in 2009 and sold it for $3.5 million in 2019, with a pre-tax gain of $1.5 million, your capital gains tax burden could be an additional $357,000. So, offsetting that somewhat with lower state excise tax is advised.

Reason 2: A recession could make it harder to sell your home.

While no one can be certain about the future of the economy, the majority of 53 professional economic forecasters surveyed recently by National Association of Business Economics believe it will continue to grow at a 2.6 percent pace in 2019, but will slow to 2.1 percent in 2020—and that a recession is possible before the next presidential inauguration.

Selling a house during a recession can mean a slower process, with houses often sitting on the market for longer than they would otherwise. This can result in sellers needing to do more to show and market their homes, such as paying for upgrades and fixes, professional staging and advertising. These things may not be as critically necessary when the economy and real estate market are up. Recessions can also result in flooding in the real estate market, with more sellers than buyers. An abundance of inventory can make it more challenging to sell your home in a timely fashion at the ideal price.

Reason 3: Mortgage rates on your next home could be lower.

When you sell your home, you’ll likely be in the market for another home that suits your needs. Interest rates are close to historic lows right now and Freddie Mac’s recently published mortgage rate forecast predicts that rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) will rise slightly through the end of 2020 to 4.2 percent. This compares to 3.82 percent at the beginning of June 2019, which is the lowest since September of 2017. While that may not sound like much of an increase, the savings could go toward a remodel or vacation. And, with current market volatility, it’s advised to lock in as low a rate as possible now. The U.S. and global economies can influence mortgage rates—and no one has a crystal ball to know what will happen in 2020. We can only look at historical data to know that rates are low right now.


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