5 tips to sell your home in the hot real estate market

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how hot the housing market has been lately. The median current home price — half higher, half lower — is $375,300, according to the National Association of Realtors, up 15 percent from the previous year. It’s hard not to think about taking some profits and retiring in a smaller, less expensive home.

If you’re considering selling your home, May is the best month to list it, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate research firm, followed by June and July. You’ll find more interested buyers in those months, and possibly more profitable bids. The worst months to put a house on the market: December and October.

For many homeowners, the decision to sell is usually followed by thousands of dollars of updates so the new homeowner can enjoy the things you’ve been missing out on yourself, like a new kitchen floor or a deck that the raccoon family doesn’t have under. This isn’t altruism: you’re hoping that brightening up the place will drive up prices.

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This is a good instinct. But the question is: What can you do to make your home more attractive to buyers? And what else can you do to get top dollar for your home? Here are five steps to consider taking:

1. Find out what it’s worth

Your real estate agent can show you recent sale prices for similar homes. But it doesn’t hurt to look around, just so you both have a similar starting point for determining the selling price. You can find current asking prices for homes on a number of websites, such as Zillow and Opendoor. Keep in mind that these are what the owners want to have for their homes, not necessarily what they will get. The best way is to look at recent sales prices, which you can usually get from local government websites or newspapers.

You may have to pay capital gains taxes on the profits from the sale of your main home, but only if you build a package. Singles can keep up to $250,000 in gains from the sale of their home tax-free; Married people can keep $500,000 in winnings.

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