Houses throughout the country are selling at higher prices than anytime in a generation. So, what's my home worth?
According to the latest data released by the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales declined for the third straight month in April. This decline is the result of the low inventory and swiftly rising prices. The supply of homes for sale at the end of April was down 20.5% from one year ago. There were 1.16 million homes for sale, representing a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace.
Sales of existing homes dropped 2.7% in April from March to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.85 million units. Sales were 33.9% higher than April 2020 when the housing market had shut down at the start of the pandemic. In the previous month, the existing home sales had fallen 3.7% from the prior month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.01 million.
“Despite the decline, housing demand is still strong compared to one year ago, evidenced by home sales from this January to April, which are up 20% compared to 2020,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. All but one of the four major U.S. regions witnessed month-over-month drops in home sales, but each registered double-digit year-over-year gains for April. The Midwest housing market was the only region to see sales growth between March and April, with a 0.8% uptick. The Northeast had the biggest decline, with a 3.9% drop in sales.
Despite the drop in home sales housing market remains hot even as mortgage rates hover around three percent. The median existing home price in April was $341,600, a new record high that represents a 19.1% increase from a year before. That is both the highest median price on record and the largest annual increase on record. Every region of the housing market recorded price increases and it also marks 110 straight months of year-over-year gains.
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You want to list your house, but for how much? Other homes in your area are selling at insane prices in days - even hours. You've checked Zillow.com and other websites for estimates and comps. And a realtor has been on you to list immediately, but the proposed price seems low based on your research.
Selling and buying a house is emotional, consequential, and complex. The challenge of setting the sale price for your home may have nothing to do with your realtor, your house, or the market. Instead, the problem maybe you. Well, not you, per se. But your non-conscious feeling-brain.
Here's where the fun begins. You, like most people, believe your home is "special" – above average and worth a premium. Behavioral economists call this the "endowment effect."
The endowment effect is the tendency to value things you own more highly than equivalent things you don't own. In other words, the price you want for selling an item is likely to be higher than the price you would be willing to pay to buy the item. www.scienceterms.net/psychology/endowment-effect/
In plain language, "your stuff is worth more because it's your stuff." Why? Because your non-conscious feeling-brain values a thing more after you own it. And you will generally demand much more when you sell it than you paid for it - regardless of the going market price.
You have an emotional attachment to your house. You picked out the colors and planted the tree out front. It's the center of your life and family. I get it. No one cares as much about your home as you do, and that's your dilemma.
It seems the value we place for an object, like a house, changes after buying it. The very fact that we own something makes it more valuable. And this is why a house is not just any old house. It's your home. And you're going to demand a premium to let someone buy it.
Think about the impact of not only your mindset and emotions but also the buyer's mindset and emptions.
The endowment effect is one of many emotional biases that shape the housing market. It's human nature to think your house is unique and worth more than your neighbor's. No one wants to sell for less than they think it is worth, even if it made economic sense to do so. And to complicate things, the dynamics of a seller's market are different than a buyer's market. Remember, emotions drive markets.
The endowment effect can be an issue in all transactions – big and small. As a consumer, consider this:
- Know that you have money biases that impact your spending decisions. We all do.
- The endowment effect is an unconscious behavioral bias that can be especially troublesome for significant purchases and sales.
- Merely being aware of the endowment effect can help you avoid it.
- Force yourself to use your thinking, analytical brain in all significant spending and selling decisions.
- Use a third party (agent, broker, lawyer, etc.) to keep your thinking brain engaged, and they are also biased.
- Do your homework and trust the numbers; again, hard thinking-brain stuff.
- Don't forget the opportunity cost – the value of the next-highest-valued alternative use of your time and money. Sometimes cutting your losses makes sense.
- Housing markets are local. Your market may be different than a market on the other side of town, and it's defiantly different than a hot market across the country.
- Every stakeholder in a real-estate transaction is emotional, biased, and driven by self-interest.
- Selling your house is a very human experience. Expect nothing less.
Discovering your Money Temperament will unleash your Money SuperPowers and make you a better spender. And you will reap the emotional and economic benefits of Behavioral Financial Wellness.
Understanding your relationship with money and creating a one-size-fits-YOU money mindset is easy to do. The sooner you start, the better the outcome.
Action: Discover Your Money Temperament and Unleash Your Money SuperPowers
Think about, or better, write down your answers to the questions below.
- Why do you want to sell your house?
- Are there alternatives to selling?
- What are the opportunity costs? Does it make sense to sell? Run the numbers.
- Are you rationalizing your decision to sell?
- As difficult as it is, make selling your house a thinking-brain exercise.
Ted McLyman, Author, MPA, MS
Author | Entrepreneur | Business Owner | Speaker | Trainer | Lt Col, USMC (Ret) | Ironman Triathlete
Over 30 years of award-winning experience, helping individuals and organizations achieve peak performance.
Founder MyApexx Behavioral Solutions Group and Pathfinder Coaches Academy; Director, Behavioral Finance, and Advisory Board Member at www.DreamSmartAcademy.com; retired financial advisor/agent; economics instructor, US Naval Academy; Aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management; Head, Marine Corp Training Management Division; Commander, USMC Financial Management School; artillery officer; Executive Office, Battle Assessment Team, Operation Desert Storm.(www.tedmclyman.com www.pathfindercoaches.com @tedmclyman)
BA Social Relations, Colgate University; MA Public Administration, Pepperdine University; and MS Performance Technology, Boise State University.
Authored three books on behavioral finance, money temperament, and spending behavior. Ted's author site: www.TedMcLyman.com