Buying and selling a home at the same time can be a complicated and stressful process. Still, with proper planning, the assistance of experienced professionals, and a few deep breaths, you can get your present home sold and purchase your new home on time, on budget, and with minimum stress.
This guide draws on the Piper Partners Team’s years of experience helping our clients in Ann Arbor, Michigan, improve their quality of life by making important home buying and selling decisions. This guide will help you make great choices and get the best possible outcome for your family and loved ones regarding your move. There is no right or wrong way to buy and sell simultaneously, but there is a right way for you! Read on–we will help you discover that path and give you many tips.
Are you ready for this? Would you be ready to move if you received a full-price offer today on your existing home?
“Working with PiperPartners was truly a blessing for us. My husband and I are both retired and were a little hesitant about making such a big move. We knew that we needed to be in a one-story home because of health issues. Our agent Andy helped us every step of the way. He walked us through the process of selling and buying our new home. He treated us like family and shared his team at PiperPartners with us. He assured us that if we couldn’t reach him then they would be there for our assistance. They took care of us from beginning to end. We had been in our new home for about two weeks when, guess who showed up, our agent Andy with a gift. Thank you PiperPartners for making this transition smooth and easy for us. God bless you.”
-Catherine and Ed Thomas
Doing the work and preparation up front will make your move smoother with each step. There are as many ways to approach your buy-sell move as there are households. Some people can gear up for a move quickly and be seemingly unimpacted by it. Others may require years to prepare and find the process stressful and difficult.
Do the Work
Preparing to buy and sell at the same time requires physical, financial, and emotional work. Lets get started.
Preparing a home for sale and moving is a lot of work! Ten or twenty years may have passed since you last moved, and now you are older. You may not have the energy and the mobility you used to have. Or, you may have three kids under five now, plus a dog, two cats, and a hamster. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do and get help. The last thing you need right now is an injury that derails the process or causes your family to melt down. We maintain a large list of contacts of vetted contractors that can help with ANYTHING around the house; please reach out for a recommendation.
Of course, since you moved in, you have likely accumulated a lot of stuff. Work with your agent to determine which items in your home should stay and which should go (either into storage, sold, or given away). The goal is to prepare your home strategically so that it will show at its best. This generates the best offers from the highest quality buyers.
If you sell a family home where adult children may still have items in storage, get them in the game early and engage them to help. Adult children often store many personal items in Mom and Dad’s basement, attic, or closets. Make sure they have a chance to find their cherished items and give them a new home. Give these kids a deadline, too. They may be interested in these items but not in doing something about them! Give fair warning of your intent to purge, and stick to it. Out it goes!
If you have owned your home for a long time, you may have put off some updates or maintenance. A highly qualified real estate agent can help you understand which repairs are worth the time and financial investment and which will not create enough value to justify doing them. Your agent can recommend qualified tradespeople for:
- Handyman repairs
- Plumbing and Electrical
- Heating and cooling
Piper Partners maintains a list of contractors that are consistently available for our clients, offer reasonable rates, and have a track record of excellent customer service.
To succeed in the financial aspects of moving, there are five professionals you will want in your corner to assist you in buying and selling a home simultaneously.
1. An Experienced Realtor
This is your key resource throughout the process. You must feel comfortable with this person and choose someone with a strong track record in handling these complex moves. This is not the time to hire your friend, neighbor, or relative who happens to have a real estate license. This person will be with you from one end to the other.
Your real estate agent or team will:
- Assess the condition of your current home
- Make repair recommendations
- Determine the value of your current home and explain the impact that repairs will have on value with a high degree of accuracy
- Determine marketing time to sell
- Market and sell your current home
- Determine proceeds from the sale
- Assist in identifying target neighborhoods and homes to purchase
- Make purchase offers
- Negotiate contracts on both ends
- Coordinate the move
- Keep all parties to the transaction on a timeline and performing
- Minimize your liability throughout the process
2. An Experienced Home Mortgage Lender
An experienced agent works with lenders daily and can easily give you several names of highly qualified mortgage lenders with whom they have had a great experience. Interview lenders to find one that communicates clearly with you, is available and provides clear and concise information.
An experienced lender is critical when buying and selling at the same time. There are many innovative mortgage products available to facilitate buying and selling at the same time. Top mortgage lenders will be up on these and be able to present them clearly to you to consider.
If you’d like the names of our preferred lenders, contact us.
3. Your Financial Planner
Be sure to check in with your financial planner now that you plan to move. Share the news with them and get feedback on how the move might impact you long term. Review your long-range financial goals and make sure this move aligns with them. And, of course, discuss how you will fund the purchase of your next home.
4. Your Accountant
Reviewing your circumstances with your accountant is always a great idea, but even more so when planning a move. Buying or selling a home can create income tax consequences, so knowing how you may be affected in advance will help you to make smarter decisions and be better prepared. Tax laws change regularly; consult your accountant early in the process.
5. Your Attorney
Be sure to consult with your attorney when it comes time to enter into a contract or for family law matters that can be affected by your move. This is especially true if you are divorced and have full or shared custody of children, plan to move out of state, or move because of a divorce and assets are being separated.
If you have been in your present home for a while, you may experience some strong emotions as you prepare for this move. You’re human – it’s inevitable! Recognize that you might have some memories and feelings surface after all these years in this home, and allow yourself time to work through them.
If your move is more abrupt because of a sudden job transfer or family situation, talk to all family members about what is happening. Get everyone on board as much as possible and focus on something positive that awaits in your new home.
We have worked with sellers, particularly downsizers, who began the process of selling a family home only to realize that they were not ready to move! It’s better to conclude sooner than when that precious home hits the market.
Moving causes stress! Most likely, you are moving for reasons that involve major life events – positive or negative – and this causes stress. With stress comes the likelihood of illness. Understand the stress you will be under because of this move and identify ways to reduce stress to stay focused on the right things.
Most people we help with major moves are moving because of a major life change, such as a new job, downsizing, retirement, or relocating for quality of life reasons. These are among the top ten most stressful life events. Now, if you also add selling a home AND buying a new home to any one of these, you have a situation that requires careful consideration and the help of a top professional to help you plan your move.
Strategies to consider for buying and selling homes at the same time.
1. Sell first, get temporary housing, then shop for and buy your new home.
This option will give you the most flexibility and negotiation power on the buying side as you will not have to make an offer contingent on selling a home. You will have to get a lease and scramble to find new or temporary housing. When moving to a new market or area of the country, it could make sense to lease an apartment, townhouse, or single-family home for a year and search for a home after you arrive and have had a chance to get to know the area.
If you take on a lease, you may want to ensure an out clause for purchasing a home. Often, this will cost you a month or two of rent, but it gives you the flexibility to shop on your terms in the new market.
Renting before buying also allows you to take your time and explore more options or possibly consider a home that needs work and may need several months before it is ready. Homes that need work can help you quickly build equity in a property if you have the time and knowledge to manage such a project.
On the downside, you may incur additional expenses for storing your household items and moving twice by choosing this option.
2. Sell and buy at the same time
Selling and buying at the same time is the most common way that our clients move when they already own a home. We have completed many of these transactions for our clients, and we know what it takes to successfully guide buyers and sellers through the process and achieve excellent results while minimizing stress and uncertainty.
Case Study – Candice and Dwayne Hunter
“We just had a baby and it was getting crowded in our condo so we reached out to the PiperPartners team to sell our condo and buy a new home at the same time. Our biggest worry was that we would not have a new home to move into! Tanya and Andy were very experienced about buying in the Ypsi / Ann Arbor area, preparing a home for sale, and preparing for a move.
Thanks to your guidance we found a buyer for our condo in a couple of weeks with flexible occupancy after closing and then we were quickly able to find a highly functional new home with all the spaces we needed.
We did not realize how overwhelming the process was – it was VERY overwhelming! Your team addressed all or our concerns each step of the way and was always available by email and phone. When you gave advice, we listened and it paid off.”
In reality, it is impossible to buy and sell a home simultaneously! In real life, you close your current house and immediately close on the new home. The proceeds from your home sale are immediately applied to the new purchase.
Generally, you have less bargaining power with this scenario since you will use the home sale proceeds as the down payment on the new home. That means that your purchase will be contingent on closing your current home. In a hot sellers’ market, sellers won’t consider this option or you will have to pay a premium to get an accepted contract.
However, you may have something to offer the seller that could make your offer more appealing, such as a leaseback option or flexibility in closing dates. Your real estate agent can help you explore these options and help you best position your offer.
The biggest danger with this option is that your current home could close while the new home purchase falls through. You will want to get the contingencies cleared on the new home purchase before closing on your existing home.
When buying new construction with a 6-9 month lead time on the completion of the new home, sellers will put a downpayment on a new home and then market their existing home for sale 3-4 months before closing on the new home. This works best when the home is highly marketable and in a seller’s market. The risk is that market conditions can change quickly and without clear signals. In the worst case, you may not be able to close on the new home if your current home doesn’t sell. Then you will financially carry two homes at once or lose your deposit on the new home. Many people buying new construction will sell first and then find a short-term lease to fill the time until the house is ready.
In reality, this is how most of our sell-buy transactions take place. Most people do not have the financial ability or risk tolerance to carry two homes at the same time in the event that something should go wrong.
3. Buy the new home and then sell your existing home
This can be the least stressful option if you own your home free and clear. This allows you the most flexibility because you can purchase the new home, make repairs and improvements before moving in, move your household to the new home, make improvements and repairs on your existing home while it is vacant, and then market the home for sale.
Hold out for the best home for you and your family
Your home is the place to live your best life! That should always be your first consideration. Find the home that is the best fit for you and your family, and settle in! A great real estate professional will be a great listener and be able to understand your needs and make short work of finding you the perfect home for your lifestyle, budget, and desires.
Buy within your means
Get with your financial planner to set and consider your long-term financial objectives. These days, fewer and fewer of us have company 401k’s. You have to remember to fund your retirement, and you will live longer, on average. So, keep this in mind. Lenders often don’t consider this fact in determining your mortgage limits.
Buy for the long haul if you can
Selling a home and moving is expensive. Purchasing can be risky if your time horizon is less than three years. If your time frame is seven years or longer, you will most likely make it through a full housing cycle. Based on history, you will likely be making a sound financial decision.
Start by getting rid of as much as possible before moving: household goods, clothing, furniture, and anything that is worn out or unused. Don’t move it. Get your financial documents in order and shred and safely dispose of what you no longer need. Meet with your preferred professionals up front and go through the entire process. Keep good records and receipts during your move and document the expenses of fixing up the house you’re selling and the one you are buying.
Follow the plan your real estate and professional advisors set out for you. They can guide you through the process and significantly reduce the stress. Expect to get clear advice every step of the way.
Now, that doesn’t sound so bad after all, does it? Buying and selling a home at the same time is doable with minimal stress and struggle if you arm yourself with experienced professionals to guide you every step of the way. With a little strategic planning, your goal of selling your current home and buying another can be a smooth process and result in the lifestyle you have always dreamed of.
The first step is to consult a qualified real estate professional, like those at Piper Partners. Ready to take that first step? We’re ready to help. Give us a call at (734) 845-9700 or fill out the form below.