Seller’s stress is different from buyer’s stress, so doing both at the same time can mean doubling the anxiety. Luckily, there are things one can do to reduce the worry and prepare for navigating two real estate transactions at once.
1. Understand the Market
In a strong seller’s market, houses often sell for way above the asking price. Homeowners will have no trouble closing on their old house. But when buying and selling a home at the same time, those same market conditions could frustrate their efforts to get an offer accepted on a new house. The opposite problem will happen in a buyer’s market.
Knowing where the market stands—and where it is expected to go—can help in formulating a strategy for both sides of the transaction.
2. Be Flexible But Know Your Limits
Managing a purchase and sale simultaneously requires flexibility. People need to balance patience with being ready to act when the right opportunity presents itself. Understand that the entire process is a negotiation. It is best to stay flexible and ready to compromise.
At the same time, having well-defined boundaries is important too. For example, know just how far to comfortably stretch the budget or lower an asking price ahead of time. And being clear about a house’s deal breakers will help buyers and sellers stay focused. For example settling for something outside the preferred school district could prove to be a mistake if the kids are unhappy changing schools. Or if three bedrooms are truly necessary, it makes no sense to settle for two.
3. Be Clear About Your Financing
It is important to have pre approval for financing before shopping for a home. The more a person is counting on the proceeds of their sale for their purchase, the trickier it will be to get financing in order. Lenders may not approve a loan if there is any doubt that the old home will fetch a sufficient sales price. If there is a chance that the borrower will end up with two mortgages, the bank is likely to want them to have a substantial salary and savings to afford it. For example, they may want proof that there is six months worth of payments for both homes in the bank, and a hefty downpayment.
One option is to get a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). If they qualify, this allows a buyer to borrow against the equity they have in their old home. Once the house sells, they can pay it back. A bridge loan is another option. It is a short-term loan offered by some banks to cover a downpayment.
4. Have a Backup Plan
Buyers and sellers need to have a strategy ready for what they will do if their sale and purchase don’t happen at the same time.
Those who are temporarily without a new address can:
- Negotiate to stay in their old home and pay rent to the buyer. This is usually for just a few days but could be longer if the buyer agrees.
- Arrange to move to a hotel or short-term rental property until they find a new home. They will most likely need to line up a storage site for their things during this time.
- Add a contingency to the contract (more on that below.)
If selling the old house is the issue, decide on one of these options ahead of time:
It does not matter which route a person decides to take should they have trouble buying and selling a home at the same time. What is important is that they research their options and put some thought into what they will do before they find themselves in a bind.
5. Be Proactive About Projects
If a homeowner is able to find a great new house and find a buyer for their old one at the same time, things are going to move fast. This is especially true in a hot market. It is best not to put off projects, especially on the selling side of the process.
Make sure the home is ready to sell. Anticipate problems that an inspection is likely to uncover and fix them. Better yet, pay to have the home inspected before putting it on the market. Get to work decluttering and staging the home for open houses. A real estate agent can help with all of this, as well as pricing the house right.
6. Safeguard With Contingencies
Contracts can include a contingency to lessen the burden on someone buying and selling a home at the same time. The most common is making a purchase contingent on selling the old home. This way, if the homeowner can not find a buyer for their hours, they can pull out the deal to buy their next home.
Another option is to ask for the right to delay the closing date. In most cases closing happens within 30 to 45 days, but getting an extension can buy some time for both sides to get everything in order.
Contingencies typically work best for the buyer in a buyer’s market. In a hot market, other offers might come in that are just as good, if not better. The seller is not obligated to honor a contingency if they do not want to wait.