Selling a home now means fighting for a new one somewhere else

Unless your move is predicated on a job relocation or your spinster great aunt left you her estate in upstate New York, the decision to sell your house and move to another home is usually quite stressful, full of the unknown and subject to some risk.

If you are like most of us homeowners here in California, the increases in home values likely have not passed you by.  You’ve gotten the unsolicited plea, in the form of a letter or a flyer, to sell your house to a well-qualified family desperately hoping to move into your neighborhood.

Or you’ve seen a Zestimate pop up on your social media feed with a staggering value that plants that seed of “why wouldn’t I sell my house for this kind of crazy profit?”

Of course, should you decide to pull the trigger and cash in, the question becomes one of logistics and timing.

You can take the safe route and make an offer to purchase a replacement home contingent on the successful sale of your current house.  This move is slightly better if your house is currently listed for sale.

Now, if you’ve paid attention to this column in the past, you’ll recall with absolute clarity my position on the importance of staging the house and professional photographs, both of which are the cornerstone of any respectable marketing campaign to rustle up a bevy of buyers.

However, in this current market, if you can declutter (even momentarily moving piles of books, files, laundry, collectibles, jigsaw puzzles and dog beds into the garage or a closet) enough to snap a pic of the kitchen, master bedroom, bathrooms and front yard, with the highest-quality smartphone camera in the family, you probably have enough to get your house on the market within a single day.

So, if you are at all enticed by the high price tag dangling from your chimney today, find an agent. Take a few key photos, clean up as much as you can and get ready for people to call for an appointment.

Or just leave town and let your agent hold open houses for three or four days in a row — until you get an offer or four.

But seller beware: There’s going to be fierce competition for a replacement home. You can try a contingent offer, but you are likely to be beaten out by a non-contingent offer, even one with financing. Once your house is in escrow, you have a little more leverage, but you risk missing out on your dream home while you wait for yours to sell.

You’ve got to be tough as nails, flexible, nimble and absolutely on top of the market on a minute-to-minute basis, both in terms of your sale and finding your replacement home if you decide to take advantage of the price increases we’ve seen in the last few years.

Good luck!

Leslie Sargent Eskildsen is an agent with RealtyOne Group West and a member of the California Association of Realtors’ board of directors.  She can be reached at 949-678-3373 or