Let’s be real, as a mom it’s a good day if you remember to brush your hair and put deodorant on. That’s just how life is when you have a growing family and that’s ok! But living in a home that adds daily stresses and no longer serves your family just adds to the chaos. If this sounds like you, you might be ready to upsize your home. But, you’re already strapped for time. The thought of adding on the ultimate project of selling your current home and looking for something new and better makes you anxious. Where do you even start?
As a realtor and a mom, I’m here to help you navigate the process and make it a little bit easier on you. Here are my answers to some of the most common questions I get from families who are looking to upsize–some of which are questions that people are afraid to ask.
Where do we start?
I always start the upsize process with an informational gathering meeting or Zoom call. Every family’s situation is different. I need to get to know where you’re at so I can create a customized game plan for you. When we work together, you will have a clear road map for you and your family.
How much will buying/selling cost us?
This is a long one. Let me break it up for you.
If you’re buying, you will need a down payment of anywhere from 1%-20% (if not more). This depends on how much you plan to make on the sale of your current home, and the financing you’re getting.
Closing costs include lender fees, title policy, taxes, insurance, and recording. You can expect about 2% of the purchase price in closing costs.
For home inspections, I always recommend doing as much due diligence as possible–and this may cost $1,000 or more. Look at it this way: you’ll spend $1,000 to save $10,000 in a possible issue found in the inspection. Inspections include, but are not limited to, a general home inspection, sewer camera scope, radon gas testing, well water testing, septic field inspection, and an air quality test.
When you sell with me, I take care of a lot for you. I charge 6% of the sales price and I offer half of that to the buyer’s agent. I include a detailed walk through of your home to give you a guide for what needs to be done. Also, I provide you with a credit you can use for house cleaning, professional organization, or a pre-listing home inspection.
Marketing is also covered by me. It includes, but is not limited to, professional photography, videography (including aerial photography/video), staging if needed, social media marketing campaigns, and database e-mail blasts.
The only other costs that sellers should be aware of are closing costs. These are title policy, title transfer fees, and state/county transfer taxes. You may elect to do some additional repairs like painting or landscaping to spruce up the property. This could be an additional cost. I will make sure to advise you on what you should/shouldn’t do.
How long do these processes take?
The selling process takes about 45 days from pre-listing photos to signing at the closing table. Keep in mind that you can ask for up to 60 days post-close occupancy. This means you can rent your house back for that time to allow extra time to move out.
The buying process can vary depending on what inventory is available. Generally speaking, it can take 30-45 days once a purchase agreement is signed, a.k.a. you found your next home and the offer is accepted. Cash sales generally take less time due to having no financing contingencies. Buying will likely take longer than selling due to less inventory in the market.
Can we buy before we sell?
Most likely, yes. I highly recommend buying before selling for a multitude of reasons. The biggest reason is that you can move on your own timeline. You’ll then feel less pressured to buy a home due to time constraints. Instead, you’ll buy something you actually love. Also, in this competitive market, it is best to have a clean offer free of contingencies like having to sell your house first.
The biggest reason to buy before you sell is that it’s an easier transition for you and your family. You can move out of your current home and then sell to least disturb your routine.
There are a plethora of ways you can buy before you sell. My favorite method is utilizing a bridge loan, which essentially is a short term loan to cover the costs of buying your next house. Once you sell your current home, it will automatically pay off the bridge loan. Another option is utilizing the equity in your current home with a Home Equity Line of Credit, keep in mind that this should be done a couple months in advance so you can use some of that money for home repairs before listing or debt reduction/consolidation.
The truth is, in this busy season of life we don’t move because it’s fun. We move because it’s the right choice for our family. Trying to “time the market” or waiting for a less busy season is really just delaying what you know is going to be the solution to many of your lifestyle problems.
I’ve put a lot of thought into my signature process that I utilize at Higher Living Real Estate, The Alignment Method, to make sure the upsizing process is a little (or a lot) more manageable. I support my growing households as much as possible through specific processes, clear communication, and an amazing team of professionals at your disposal.
What do we do with all our stuff?
Before you panic about your amount of belongings, I come to your home and do a thorough walk through for you. It outlines everything that should stay and should go. I tell you where to put things, what the kitchen counters should look like, and how the beds should be made. I want it to be as simple as possible for you so all you need to do is execute. If you need support with anything, I have a team of professional organizers/packers that I can refer you to.
When it comes to storing your belongings, there are actually a lot of different options here. The most common suggestion I have to sellers that are still living in their house is to select one or two designated areas in their home (like the unfinished basement/storage room or garage) to neatly store all the paired down household items. Another option, while more expensive, is to rent a storage unit or POD to pack full of your stuff that will be going to the new house. When the unit is full, they’ll move it to your new space.
How do I have showings at our home that work around nap schedules or for work-from-home commitments?
I make sure to block off those times in the calendar so that no showings can be booked during those times. Usually, naps are around 1:00-3:00 p.m., which during the week tend to be less busy times for showings. During the weekend, it might be a good idea to pivot to a car nap. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s a temporary solution). Or, possibly napping at the grandparents’ house.
Either way, when you work with Higher Living Real Estate, we won’t have your home available to show when it doesn’t work for you. There are also a lot of cool co-working spaces you can purchase a day pass for if you do want to work outside of the house for showings if need be.
What do we do with our pets during showings?
Ideally, they’d go with you. But, if that’s not possible, keep the dog in the kennel in the basement or in an area that is a bit more private. Cats can usually roam free and most of the time they hide.
Do I need to keep my house clean 24/7?
No! Honestly, all you need to do is focus on keeping it clean during the times you know it will be shown. In this market usually, the time frame is seven days if not less for it to be shown and under contract.
If possible, I always encourage clients to take that weekend away up north or visit family when their home goes active on the market. This way there’s no one home to create a mess. All you have to do is clean and close the door. Hopefully, by the time you’re home an offer has been accepted.
How long do showings last?
As mentioned above, in this market most homes move very quickly. Meaning if we list on a Thursday, by Sunday we should be done with showings. Most of the time showings are booked between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. The rule of thumb is the more you make your home available, the more showings we’ll have.
Will strangers be looking through our stuff?
The rule for showings is to not look in free-standing dressers or nightstands. But, be aware that potential buyers will be looking in closets, cupboards, and drawers to see what the storage space is like. So store any valuables in a safe and make sure there is some organization in spaces people will be looking.
Can we bring the kids to tour homes?
Absolutely, there’s no need to hire a babysitter for this. Trust me when I say I’ve held two babies at the same time during many showings. I am here to be an extra set of hands. Sellers understand that you have a life and a family. For older children, it might be a good idea to have a talk with them beforehand. Let them know they shouldn’t touch things and just to look. A trick that works well for my toddlers is to give them a special item to hold at the showing so they already have something in their hands!
What if we’re not ready now, but will be in six months? What should we do now?
It’s never too early to have your introductory call with me. I will set you up with the right game plan so that you have action items for now. Then when the time comes, you will feel ahead of the game. That being said, it’s always good to start organizing things and paring down now. Tackle any looming home projects that might not be complete.
Also, keep an eye on your finances. Now is the time to really dial in and work on making sure that credit score is optimized and debt is paid off. Your lender will be able to help you with suggestions on how to improve your credit/financial standing if you need more directions. If you don’t have a lender yet, I can offer some suggestions.