My take on things may be a little different. My belief is that it can be a good time to sell or a bad time under any market conditions. It really depends on your individual circumstances.
There is so much negativity and fear mongering the mass media. Heck, even some of our fellow agents dismiss the entire real estate market as bad. Critical thinking and a hefty grain of salt are key!
Recently, a couple went on Trulia asking about trading up from their starter home into a bigger home in a better neighborhood. While many agents told them that the market stinks and they better stay put, I suggested we look at the bigger picture. They are now happily moved into their new home and the amount of money they saved on the move-up house more than covered the amount "lost" on their starter home. Gotta look at the overall picture and your next proceeds, etc.
We are very fortunate here in San Francisco and frankly, our market is pretty darn healthy in comparison to the rest of the country.
Before making any decisions, I would definitely recommend that you explore your individual circumstances.
Real estate is SO local. Where is your home specifically?
In the past 3 months (arguably the worst 3 months we'll see!), 7 homes in San Francisco sold for between $2-3 million. Right now, 4 are in escrow. Of course, there are 44 currently on the market. 30 homes either expired or were withdrawn from the market.
So, no, it is not a fabulous seller's market in upper end. Yet, some homes are selling and yours could be one of them. The key is to make sure that your home is one of the homes that sell vs. one of the ones that do not.
There are factors we cannot control and there are factors we can. Listing price, presentation and exposure are within the agent and the home seller's control. The economy (lending conditions, etc) are out of our control. I know a lot of this is stating the obvious so bare with me...
The lender I work with at Bank of America recently told me that there are jumbo loans over $1,000,000 available with 25% down payment. The rates were in the 5% range with 1/2 point.
That is a VERY different story from what I am hearing on the street, in the news, or even at my office meeting! I'm checking with her to see how high the amount can go just to make sure this could apply to your home.
All in all, most of us figure we will muddle around the bottom for a while and true appreciation may not happen for at least a couple more years...maybe 3-5 years.
My recommendation is to look at:
your long-term gains,
your tax situation,
your property tax situation (Prop 60 & 90: 55+ can take their tax basis with them under certain circumstances),
AND analyze the total net picture of where you want to go.
What I mean by this is to look at your real estate plans as a whole, on both the selling and buying sides.
For example, where are you moving to? How's the market for those types of homes? Maybe the deal you will get on the next home will make it appealing to sell in today's market. Maybe not.
A lot of this is better discussed offline and I am happy to help in anyway that I can whether or not your choose to sell your home. If you want to know about your neighborhood specifically, just shoot me an email and I'll send you a full picture. Neither pressure nor obligation, of course.
Here are some more resources:
(double check with your CPA and the local assessor's office)
Best of luck with your plans!
Danielle Lazier, San Francisco Realtor & Blogger
Assistant Sales Manager Zephyr Real Estate
danielle (at) zephyrsf.com