Which is Better to do First: Sell Your Current Home or Buy a New One?

Here are the things you should consider before deciding whether to sell your current home or buy a new one.

It’s that age-old dilemma, applied to one of the largest financial transactions you may ever make: Which step should come first? 

On the one hand, you may not be able to put an offer on a new property without the capital from selling your current one. But on the other hand, you don’t want to sell your home without anywhere to move into next.

What should you do?

There are pluses and minuses to both options that should be assessed in relation to your needs and timeline. But it’s also important to see where the market is in your current and future neighborhoods. Here are the things you should consider before deciding whether to sell your current home or buy a new one.

If You Buy a New Home First

When you find your dream home, you just know—right? So why let it slip away from you just because your current home hasn’t sold yet?

Assuming you’re not working with an outside timeline, like an impending job change, buying first gives you plenty of time to shop for the right home for your needs. It also gives you plenty of time to pack and move, which in turn gives you more time to prepare your first home for sale. This is definitely the least burdensome way to go, at least in terms of coordinating your move.

Buying first works best in one of two situations:

  1. It’s a hot market and you have the cash to buy the exact home you want now before someone else takes it.
  2. The market is really quiet and you know you can get a great deal for your dream home because the sellers are anxious to move the property.

But don’t count your chickens before they hatch. The downside to buying first, especially in a slow market, is that you’re not guaranteed to sell your own home right away. You could end up just like that anxious seller you bought from: ready to accept a lowball offer just to get out of paying two mortgages. To get around this, you could make your offer contingent on selling your current home. But in an active real estate market, like the one that we’re in now, that puts your offer at the bottom of the list.

If You Sell Your Current Home First

Most real estate agents suggest you sell first, if at all possible. Selling your home before you make an offer on the next one makes you king of the coop for three reasons:

  1. Getting your next mortgage is definitely easier because you’re not shouldering as much of a financial burden.
  2. You have more leverage with buyers when you don’t feel pressured to accept the first offer that comes to you just because you’re anxious about having to sink money into two mortgages for an indefinite amount of time.
  3. And you have an exact budget to work with when you are ready to buy because your old home has already closed.

On the other hand, if you have lots of large furniture, a big family, or pets, selling first without a new home to move into can put you in a tight spot. You may need to rent an interim location, which can mean two moves: first out of the old house, then into the new home some weeks or months later.

Consider the Market

One of the biggest factors in making your decision should be the state of the real estate market, both in the neighborhood you’re leaving and the one you’re moving to. According to the latest Beverly-Hanks Market Report, homes across Western North Carolina are flying fast!

The current market is perfect for homeowners selling affordable homes and moving up to the next price tier. There is currently a shortage of properties available for first-time home buyers in nearly every area of our region (giving advantage to you as the seller). In addition, homes in higher price brackets are not selling quite as quickly (giving you the advantage, again, as the buyer).

If this is your plan, it’s very likely that you can time the sale of your current home with the purchase of your new one…or get pretty darn close. All you need is a good plan and a professional by your side.

So…What Should You Do?

First, assess your personal needs. If you have kids starting school, pets that would need boarding, a new job waiting for you, or other major considerations, that will certainly affect your timeline. Decide where you can be flexible and where you cannot.

Next, get in touch with your Beverly-Hanks REALTORⓇ. With the aid of the Beverly-Hanks Seller’s Workbook, your agent will work with you to create a specific action plan based on how quickly homes in your neighborhood are selling versus your next neighborhood. The workbook will also help you prepare your home before it hits the market.

Your agent can help you start pecking away at new home listings before you put your current house on the market. After all, knowing how many suitable options are available can keep you from getting stranded. And once your current home does hit the market, he or she can also help you negotiate a longer closing period or other contingencies that depend on the sale of your current home.

Beverly-Hanks Mortgage Services will also be able to guide you on your financial options. Perhaps you qualify for a bridge loan, a short-term loan that uses your current home’s equity to help you pay for your new home. Bridge loans are designed to help you buy first, then repay them once your old home sells.

Lastly, have a backup plan ready—just in case. As you know, it’s pretty easy for a closing to become delayed for myriad reasons.

What’s Your Plan?

What do you think? Are you more comfortable with the idea of buying first and knowing what awaits you? Or would you prefer to sell first and know your budget?

All real estate is local. Your first-hand knowledge of your home and neighborhood are essential components to our approach. The Beverly-Hanks Seller’s Workbook takes you through the entire home selling process, step by step. Through thoughtful exercises, it collects information, clarifies your expectations, and coordinates the efforts of you and your agent.

Request a FREE Beverly-Hanks Seller’s Workbook today!

All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, it’s important to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about buying and selling homes and land in Western North Carolina. View all Beverly-Hanks real estate listings.

15 Responses to “Which is Better to do First: Sell Your Current Home or Buy a New One?”

  1. It’s great that you talked about property transactions and how to make the most out of them. Recently, my sister said she wants to sell her house and purchase one that’s closer to my parent’s house. My sister’s not that familiar with real estate deals, so I’ll be sure to share this article with her. Thanks for the information on evaluating my sister’s needs before making a decision.

  2. There are pros and cons of everything and hence buying/selling first has both of them. But you just need to look at your requirements & needs and then go ahead to choose what’s best for you. Thankyou for sharing this informative blog which needs to be read before coming to a decision while buying/selling real estate.

  3. It’s helpful that you mentioned how buying a home first gives you plenty of time to find what you are looking for. My brother would like to buy a luxury home next month. He should look for an expert that can help him look over his options.

  4. It all depends on your requirements. Generally, buying a new home first and then selling the old one is the right way. But, if you don’t have enough budget for your new home and the buying of your new home depends on the payment of your old one then selling your old one is the right choice.

  5. I loved it when you said that on the one hand, you may not be able to put an offer on a new property without the capital from selling your current one. We are planning to move to a new hous before the end of the year. We are looking for the best real estate agency in town. We will also ask referals from friends.

  6. It’s amazing that you talked about it’s an intense market and you have the money to buy the accurate home you want now before someone else takes it. My father experiencing the civilization and types of people somewhere else, so he is thinking of moving to another city shortly. If he is planning a move, we think it’s a good investment to hire a reputable real estate agency to help us find the best places and homes in the area.

  7. It really helped when you said the present market is ideal for homeowners looking to sell their low-cost houses and upgrade to a higher-priced home. I have a cousin who is doing a research paper this should help him, I’ll share it with him. Thank you for the information about land for sale.

  8. As a realtor, one of your biggest concerns is to find the right clients who need your services and should be in a position to provide sales. As you’ve said, an offer on a new property – even with all relevant information – may not be possible if moving out of the old house doesn’t happen first. We’re planning on moving house before the end of this year! What we want from you is to search for a house that meets our criteria. We’ll also ask friends for referrals so we can decide together about all relevant information when it comes down to: is this the place for us?

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