Unless you’re a first-time buyer, or you have no financial worries, the vast majority of people cannot buy a new home without first finding a buyer for the one they already have.
This causes issues to arise, as it can be difficult to know when to put your property on the market. To try and help, we’ve put together our advice on selling and buying: when to start searching.
Searching for a prospective home
Many people look at prospective homes before putting their own up for sale. This sometimes leads to one of two outcomes:
- The perfect home is found, but the agent is unable to recommend a ‘subject to sale’ offer and the property is sold to someone who is ready to proceed. The result is you lose the property you’ve fallen in love with
- The perfect home is found, meaning your existing one must be sold quickly for you to secure the new one. The result is you don’t realise the full value of your current property and it can be undersold
Selling and buying
If you already own a property, how do you secure your next dream home without being left homeless, heartbroken or out of pocket?
Once you have your financial affairs in order, speak to local estate agents as soon as possible to get the ball rolling on the sale of your property.
- Invite a few local estate agents round to value your current home and ask how they’d market it
- Ask them if they have any suggestions on anything you can alter or improve to enhance the property’s saleability
- Choose an estate agent with a good reputation for dealing in the sort of property you are selling. You want to be able to use their local knowledge!
Once effective marketing of your property is underway and reasonable interest is being generated, you should start looking at prospective new homes.
You don’t want to end up paying two mortgages because you haven’t been able to sell your first property.
What happens if you sell your property first?
Obviously, the ideal is to sell and buy simultaneously. However, if you end up selling first, you can use this to your advantage:
- You will be chain free, therefore able to move quickly with cash in the bank (and hopefully have agreed a mortgage in principle)
- You will be in a strong position which should prevent you from being gazumped
- You have nothing that could hold up the buying process on your end
- You won’t be pressured to sell your house, therefore you don’t have to agree to a lower price to secure a quick sale
- Negotiating a house price will be easier, as you’ll be in a stronger position
What to do if you can’t find somewhere to move into
Unfortunately, selling your property first can lead to complications. However, there are ways around these:
- If you’re temporarily without home and unwilling to commit to long term renting, consider a short-term lease
- If you’re staying in the same area, befriend the estate agent selling your house. They can inform you of new properties on the market
- If you’re struggling to find somewhere to move into, talk to any potential buyers about delayed completion. Anything that prevents you from having to rent temporarily will be worth asking about
On this last point, don’t feel pressured into a fast completion. Only after you exchange contracts do both parties become legally obligated to a price and move date. Accept an offer on your own home from an intending buyer, but explain to them that you have not yet secured an onward purchase.
Issue your buyer with a contract of sale and allow the conveyancing process to begin. However, don’t exchange contracts until ready to do so, ideally when you have found somewhere to buy. Both of your selling and buying exchanges can then be done simultaneously, meaning you’ll never be left homeless.
Bear in mind, there are good times of the year to sell your home. Traditionally, spring and autumn are good times of the year to sell. Summer and winter are typically quiet. Therefore, if you’re after a bargain to buy, you could do well to wait until summer or winter.
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Last Updated: August 13th, 2021