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Buying When You're Selling a Home: The Pros and Cons

If you’re considering the leap from first-time homebuyer to repeat buyer, you’re probably wondering what to do first. Is it better to sell your current home before buying a new one? What about buying first and then selling? Is it possible to do both at the same time? The answers to these questions depend on your personal finances, risk tolerance, and local housing market. There are many factors to consider. Here are some pros and cons to help you weigh your options.

Sell First, Buy Later

Pros:

  • You’re at no risk of being stuck with two mortgage payments, which can be a budget-busting prospect for most people.
  • Equity from your home sale puts you in a better position to buy, and you’ll know exactly how much money you have to work with.

Cons:

  • You may need to find interim housing and storage, which can be costly. Renting a storage pod or climate-controlled storage unit can cost a few hundred dollars a month, depending on your location and the size you’ll need. Another factor to consider is that a short-term or month-to-month rental may be more costly than a standard 12-month lease.
  • If you’re not comfortable in temporary housing and want to get out, you can feel pressured to settle for a new home that is less than ideal.

Tip: Find an apartment that you like and are comfortable in so you won’t feel rushed in your new home search. Plus, if you can get an apartment with a garage, you may be able to save money by not having to rent a storage unit.

Buy First, Sell Later

Pros:

  • You won’t have to worry about finding interim housing or storage (and you can avoid living in mom and dad’s basement).
  • You can take all the time you need to find the perfect new home.

Cons:

  • You may need to borrow money for a down payment (if your lender allows it). You might be able to get a short-term bridge loan to make a down payment, which you can repay when you sell your current home.
  • With the pressure of time weighing on your shoulders, you may be more likely to settle for the first offer you receive on your house, which could be less than your asking price.

Tip: Be realistic about what you can afford. Keep in mind that if your home doesn’t sell quickly, you may be paying two mortgages.

Buying and Selling Simultaneously

Pros:

  • Sometimes the stars do align. If you can get the timing right, you may be able to schedule both closings within days of each other or even on the same day, which can make for a seamless move.
  • You won’t have to worry about paying for storage

Cons:

  • It can be difficult to line up closing dates. And, even if you have scheduled closing dates, there are no guarantees that an inspection or financing issue won’t delay the process.
  • Contingency agreements are common, but complicated. These involve asking the seller to make your purchase contingent upon sale of your current home or asking the buyer of your current home to make the purchase contingent upon your finding a new home. In a competitive market, many sellers may reject a contingency agreement because of the added risk—they must rely on you to also sell your current home.

Tip: Have a plan B. Should your buyers have a change of heart, or financial or inspection issues stall the process, have a hotel or an apartment lined up.

Your Next Step 

No matter what route you choose, Premier Mortgage Resources can help you figure out how much you can afford and get you pre-approved for a loan. Learn more about how a Fastrac approval can help set you apart from other, less-prepared buyers or get started the pre-approved process with Premier Mortgage.