How to juggle selling 1 home and buying another

So you think you want to buy a new home.  (But) you’re afraid to sell your current home first because you don’t want to wind up homeless.  So, you talk it over and come up with a plan to find the perfect house— and then put your current house on the market.  Finally, when it sells you can buy your dream house!

Well, it would be really nice if that strategy actually worked.  But alas this is the real world and sorry, but that just ain’t gonna’ happen.  No sir-ree!  Here’s how things usually play out when you attempt to execute that game plan… You look and look for the perfect house.  Finally it comes on the market and you go look at it.  You’re not even out of the house and you’re looking at your partner to say “this is it, this is it!”  So, you rush around getting your current  house ready to put on the market, cleaning it up, decluttering, painting a few walls, buying potted plants and hanging baskets, getting an extra key made.  You and your Realtor decide on a price and sign all the paperwork.  Now it’s your Realtor’s turn to rush around getting lockboxes installed, the listing entered into the BLC/MLS, ads placed, flyers designed and printed, and a sign in the yard.  (And that’s probably an oversimplification for both the seller and the Realtor.  But regardless, and despite the best of intentions, it doesn’t usually all get done in 48 hours, if you catch my drift.)

So, the house is now on the market.  You want it sold fast but you don’t want to give it away.  So you’ve priced it at what you think is fair.  Now you need a potential buyer who likes the house a lot (enough to make an offer) and who thinks the price is not fair, but good (in their mind).  Maybe that happens the first month, maybe not.  And maybe you will need to reduce your price to get the job done.  Even if you’re one of those super success stories where you get a full price offer during the first week, you will still have a gauntlet to run.

At this point many will opt to go back to their newfound dream home just to be sure it is, in fact, “the one.”  Hopefully, it still is!  So, you draw up an offer and your Realtor presents it to the listing agent.  Negotiations ensue.  You really love this house but you don’t want to pay more than what you think is a good deal!  Back and forth the negotiations go.  Let’s say things come together and your final counter-offer is accepted.  Next on your plate is the home inspection, and possibly another round of negotiations.  And besides getting final approval on your mortgage loan, you still must get past the appraisal hurdle.  Meanwhile back at the ranch, the person buying your current house is working their way through the same process.

Unfortunately that’s the real world.  It ain’t easy and it sure ain’t simple!  So what’s a body to do?  Not to worry.  Despite the complexity of the process, tens of thousands of people buy and sell houses every single day.  The system does work.  Here’s what you need to do:

  • Get pre-qualified by a trusted mortgage originator.
  • Investigate the market just enough to confirm that the type of house you want is available in the areas you’d like to live, and at a price you can afford. (If you have champagne taste and a beer budget, then you will need to get realistic.)
  • Get your finances in shape (based on directions from the mortgage originator).
  • Work with your Realtor to develop a marketing plan for your current house (price, condition, updating, decluttering, pets, sign restrictions, whatever).
  • Complete whatever work is necessary to get your house ready to put on the market.
  • Put your house on the market— at a price that’ll sell.
  • Once you do accept an offer, immediately get hustling to find the house you want!
  • Be confident, stay positive, do what you Kneed to do. Move in to your new home!

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