This is a great time to be selling a house—or buying one. With housing prices at recent highs (in some neighborhoods they’re exceeding pre-2008 valuations), it’s no wonder about 5.3 million homes are expected to change hands in 2015, up about 30 percent from the bottom of the crash, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Buyers as well as sellers can benefit. That’s because purchasing a home is comparatively cheap right now, thanks to still-low interest rates (they recently dipped below 4 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage). “A home buyer with the U.S. median income who buys the median-priced home will pay 15.3 percent of their income on their mortgage now,” says Skylar Olsen, a senior economist at Zillow, the online real estate marketplace. “The historical number is 22.1 percent.” And although home prices will continue to climb in 2015, they’re expected to do so at a slower rate than in 2014.
So how do you make the most money, no matter which end of the transaction you’re on? For answers, the Consumer Reports National Research Center turned to the people most in the know for answers—the real estate professionals who broker almost 90 percent of residential sales.