Let’s set the scene. You found your perfect starter home years ago. It was a great home as you learned how to “adult” and figured out who you were as a woman, partner, and now as a mother. You nested while pregnant in that home, re-doing a guest room into a nursery, and learning every creak in the floors during your nightly walk back and forth to the baby’s room.
But now, the kids’ toys are everywhere. The once cozy walls are now feeling like they are closing in on you. You’re dreaming of a finished basement or fenced in yard to let the kids play.
Wanting something and implementing it are two different things. The more you think about selling your house, you might start to think it’s too difficult and hard to comprehend. Will I find something we like? What can I even afford? Will I become homeless? Where do I go if our house sells? Who is going to pack all these boxes?
As a Realtor, I can’t help with your decision making on when the right time is to move, but I work with families just like yours that are outgrowing their starter home and just need more space! It’s my job to make that process as seamless as possible.
Here are some quick tips on how to buy and sell a home at the same time:
Meet with a professional to understand your value and budget.
The most important thing before making a real estate decision is to chat with the professionals. Your first call should always be to a trusted Realtor who handles the buying and selling process daily and is a local neighborhood expert. Have the Realtor come out to your home to provide you with a market analysis, which is a fancy way of letting you know how much your current home is worth.
It’s also important to contact a lender to advise you on how much you can afford for your next home. They can also tell you what you’re qualified for in terms of buying before selling, down payment options, and different loan programs.
You will need to be armed with the current value of your home and how much you can afford before moving onto the listing or buying process. This will also help you determine if moving right now is the right step for you or if it makes more sense to wait, make improvements to your home, and see if your dream home falls within your budget.
Decide what comes first: the chicken (selling) or the egg (buying)?
This may be decided based on your conversation with your lender and your overall goals. But, it’s important to learn the pros and cons of selling first or buying first to decide how much risk you want to take on, timing of the sale/buy, etc. There isn’t a wrong answer as to what to do first, but you likely need to pick one to start first (whether it’s the sale of your home or the purchase of another) to trigger the event and timeline.
It’s important to know what one you plan to focus your time and energy on. It’s also important to have your Realtor weigh in on options based on the market, your budget, and what’s currently available on the market. My clients vary on what they want to focus on first and it really comes down to trusting your gut.
Determine your specifics on your next home.
Once you have determined your budget and what steps you’ll take first, it’s time to start narrowing down your next house and what that looks like for you and your family. When deciding your next house, here are a few things to consider:
- Write a list of all the things your current home has that you LOVE that you can look for in another house (natural light, close to a park, etc.).
- Write a list of things your current home does not have that are a pain point for your family (no fenced in yard, no garage, too few bedrooms, etc.).
- Determine what area you want to live in. If it’s a new area, consider the following when narrowing down your communities:
- Proximity to work and/or family
- Property taxes
- Crime statistics
- Local businesses and community
- Future developments
Strategize a timeline with your Realtor.
Generally I ask my clients, “In a perfect world, when would you like to be settled into your new home?” Then, we work backwards from there. Maybe you want to finish out the current school year, or put your home on the market while you’re on an upcoming vacation for ease of showings. We will take those timing considerations, along with market stats, and determine the best time to start looking at homes or get your current home on the market.
Implement the plan using options available to you.
The last step is implementing the plan you constructed collaboratively with your Realtor. There are options like post-closing occupancy (where you physically stay and live in your current home for a period of up to 60 days after closing for free or a mutually agreed upon daily rate) that you can utilize if you decide to sell first and need more time to find your next home. You can also use loan programs like lower down payments, recasts, and bridge loans to help you buy first before having to sell your home. These options are in place to help people who are timing two transactions together.
We then attempt to have the closing dates of the two properties close to one another to bridge the gap of the transactions. This allows you to only move once, from one house to the next. Does this always occur flawlessly? Of course not, and I always encourage families to have a plan B in case it’s needed.
No matter what your buying and selling goals are now or in the future, a trusted Realtor is imperative to that process to ensure you know all the options available to you and you can enjoy the excitement of finding a home that better suits your family.