Tips to help you figure out what works for you.
When it’s time to upgrade, downsize or move to a new neighborhood entirely, you’ll have to juggle the process of buying and selling a home.
Should you buy your new home first — and then put your current home on the market? Or should you sell yours first — and hope you find your dream home in time?
We’ve outlined important factors to consider before embarking on this time-consuming pursuit.
Read on to find out which strategy is right for you:
One of the most important things to consider is your budget. If you don’t have enough money saved for a down payment, closing costs and paying for two mortgages for an indeterminate amount of time, buying a home before you’ve sold your previous one can be risky. Here are a few key factors to review.
Consider buying a home before selling your current one if:
- Time is on your side: In other words, you aren’t up against a firm deadline — such as needing to relocate immediately for a new job, a growing family or another time-sensitive reason.
- Your current home needs work: Are you hoping to make a few upgrades before putting your home on the market? Get started while looking for your new place. You may also want to consider staging your home, since staged homes tend to sell 87 percent faster than unstaged ones!
- Home prices are fairly stable in your city: You’ll want to be fairly confident that prices won’t drop drastically in the few months it takes to buy and sell.
- You budgeted for all costs: Have you budgeted carefully? You’ll need to have enough money to cover your down payment, closing costs, and the cost of carrying two mortgages for a certain period of time. If you need a short-term loan, you may be able to qualify for a home loan or a home equity line of credit to help cover the cost of two mortgages.
Tip: Having trouble selling your home? If your home isn’t moving as quickly as you anticipated, you have options. To help offset your mortgage, you could consider renting your home to a yearly tenant or to travelers through a short-term listing site such as
This is generally the safest move financially: By selling your home first, you’ll know exactly how much money you have to purchase a new home. Having said that, you also have to consider your local housing market — will you be able to find a wonderful new home within a set time restriction?
Consider selling your home before buying a new one if:
- You need money from the sale: Have you budgeted carefully, and realize you need to sell your home first to help pay for a new one? If you sell first, you’ll be able to start home-shopping with a very specific budget. And since you have the cash-in-hand, your offer may be more attractive to sellers.
- You want the financial peace of mind: If you don’t want to deal with financial uncertainty (“How long will I have to carry two mortgages?”), knowing your current home has sold will help you focus on finding a new home without the added financial stress.
- You have a back-up plan: Consider this: You sell your home, and you’re searching for a new one. However, you can’t find a new place in time! Are you able to stay with family or friends until you find a new home? Can you shell out the extra cash for storage space and a short-term rental? Think it through, and make sure you’re OK with a Plan B.
Tip: Aren’t ready to pack up? If you know you’ll need extra time to find a new home, consider asking the buyers for a later closing date. Or, you could ask to rent your home for 60 to 90 days after you close (and offer a security deposit to give them peace of mind).
If you love juggling — and saving time — you may be eager to sell your home and buy a new one concurrently. It can be tricky to make the timing work out, but there are a few factors that can help.
Consider buying and selling at the same time if:
- You and the seller have the same agent: If you have the same agent — or agents that work in the same real estate office — they’ll likely want to figure out a way to make timing work for both parties. Also, if your agent specializes in buying and selling, they may have some tips to share.
- The buyers and sellers accept stipulations: You’ll likely need contingencies in the contracts for both deals. On one hand, the buyers will have to agree on a closing date that gives you time to move. On the other hand, the sellers will have to be OK with a contingency based on you selling your home before you can officially purchase theirs. Be sure to review all stipulations carefully.
You have options — so think it through, make a checklist and try to have a little fun along the way. If you’d like to talk it out, chat with your realtor or talk with a mortgage banker.
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