• Savings
  • Make Your Deal Upfront
  • Appreciation
  • Resale Value
  • Tax Advantages

But what if you want to sell? Are there S.M.A.R.T. rules for selling your house?

And how does the amount of profit you make from selling now compare to selling later?

Many Houstonians are concerned with the value of their homes, especially if they're interested in selling. The national media frequently lists Texas, and Houston in particular, as a great place to live. I agree! Many parts of Houston and the surrounding cities, such as Atascosita, Katy and Sugarland, compare favorably to other parts of the country in terms of a growing number of home sales, which usually indicates improving economic stability and a desirable location.

Some homeowners in our area would like to sell, but worry their homes haven't retained enough value or that the market hasn't improved enough. Good questions, but first: what does 'improve' mean to you? How much does the market need to improve and how will you know when it's there? For some people, it might already be there. They need to decide if waiting to sell later will actually cost more than selling now. For example, if your home is worth $400,000 today, and prices are expected to sink by three to six percent by year end, you're looking at a $12,000 to $24,000 loss in equity just because of waiting.

So here are the S.M.A.R.T rules if you want to sell in this market:

Stage your home to help set it apart from the competition. Decluttering is crucial! Take one room at a time to make the process a lot easier. Consider donating items, particularly if you're scaling down to a smaller home.

Marketing will grab would-be buyers' attention. Use a variety of tools, including online services, flyers, an open house, etc., based on your target market's preferences. Effective marketing includes hiring the right agent to represent you during negotiations.

Attitude means having a positive and realistic attitude about the process. So often, sellers' expectations are out of line; they've stressed themselves out because their decision to purchase the home in the first place was too emotional and spontaneous; they couldn't really afford it. Now, they're carrying two mortgages, and they just want out-- immediately. Selling a house the right way - to maximize the home's value - might take more time.

Right Pricing is easy to determine if you discuss it with several realtors, and base your decision on location, location, location. Use data on your neighborhood or subdivision, not anyone else's.

Tax Advantages still exist, such as avoiding capital gains taxes when you sell your primary residence. In fact, as long as you have lived in your home for two years, you can earn up to $500,000 in profit from the sale if you're married and $250,000 as a single owner. And you can repeat this every two years if you have that type of energy. Also, if you qualify, as a seller you can now take advantage of the $6,500 home buyer tax credit which was not available to sellers who purchased new homes last year. Be aware that there is an income and time restriction in place.

Facts show that selling now can make sense if you follow the SMART rules. If you're still hesitant, ask yourself what it's costing you to stay put.

Either way, in our Houston area, it's very possible to make money on the sale of your home, especially when you sell S.M.A.R.T. Remember, too, that when you look to buy your next house, that seller is well aware it's a buyer's market, too.

By: Melissa Walters