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Real Property: Sale Of


While selling your home is not usually a fast way to get money, it is likely to generate the most cash of all the alternative uses of your home.

Reasons for a delay in obtaining money from a sale of a residence include the following:

  • It may be at least several months between the time you decide to sell your home and the time you receive the money.
  • There may be a delay while you fix up the interior and exterior of the house to maximize sale and price potential.
  • Then there is the delay in finding a buyer. Studies indicate that the average single-family home in a normal market spends ten weeks on the market and many homes are on the market much longer.
  • Once you enter a contract of sale, the closing when you transfer title and receive your money may not occur until months later.
  • If you want to sell your home really quickly, take less money. The lower the sale price the more likely you are to get you cash fast.

To maximize the money you receive and minimize the time until you receive it, consider the following before listing the home

  • Look at both the exterior and interior of your home from a buyer's point of view. Make reasonable changes to maximize appeal to buyers.
  • "Stage" your possessions so a buyer can imagine him or herself living there.
  • Consider hiring a home inspector to alert you to potential problems buyers will later want to negotiate about. You can decide without pressure whether to fix any problems or to lower the price to reflect them.
  • Decide whether to sell your home yourself or use a broker/agent. 
    • Selling a home yourself may land you more money and perhaps satisfaction. It definitely includes more work.  On the other hand,  think about your physical and emotional condition, as well as your business and marketing savvy.
    • If you use a broker:
      • Consider whether to use a full commission or a discount broker. In addition to a price difference, there is a difference in what the broker does for the seller.
      • Include in the broker's contract any marketing promises the broker makes to you (such as where the property will be advertised and when).
    • For additional information about selling a home yourself, click here. For information about using a broker, click here.
  • Your offering price should be in line with what similar properties in your area have sold for recently, not what happed even months ago.  For tips about determining market value of your home, click here
  • For tips for selling in a seller's market, click here. For tips for selling in a buyer's market, here. For additional tips about selling a house in general, click here.

Taxes: When thinking about the amount you will receive for your home, consider taxes which may be payable.

  • As a general matter, tax is payable the amount equal to the difference between what you paid for the house plus cost of improvements and the net sale price.
  • The tax is generally a capital gains tax rather than ordinary income.
  • Keep in mind that each taxpayer is allowed a one-time exclusion of up to $250,000 in profit ($500,000 for married couples filing a joint return) on the sale of a principal residence. However, you must have owned and used the property as your principal residence for at least two out of the last five years before the sale.
  • For more specifics, contact an accountant or tax lawyer.

For additional information, see:


  • Sell the home when you need or want to. Do not try to time the market. It's close to impossible to time a particular real estate market.
  • Moving from one home to another can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Consider using what are known as "senior move managers." Senior move managers specialize in assisting older people moving from place to place. They help decide what to move, what to do with the items you don't move, choose and oversee movers, supervise packing and unpacking, and even have the house cleaned. Cost reflects the services you use. Generally these services cost $3,000 to $5,000. For more information, see: National Association of Senior Move Managers, offsite link, Tel.: 877.606.2766.
  • If you haven't already,consider the various means of getting money from real estate without selling. For information, click here.

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