How to buy when you also have to sell

The market is full of people who know they can sell their old house in a heartbeat, but are worried that they won’t be able to find a house to buy…..so they do nothing.

Here are a few options for you:

IF you absolutely have to make an offer contingent on selling your old house, have the old one ready to list as soon as you make an offer.  The listing agent for the house you want to buy will want to see it on the market ASAP.  Many people focus on finding the right house and have done no prep work on their old house.  They often end up losing their new house.  Any decent agent will counter your offer with what is called a “Kick-out Clause.”  That means that if another buyer comes along without a contingency, you either need to step aside or remove your contingency and buy the house.  If your house isn’t ready to list, or isn’t appealing enough to sell immediately, odds are you will lose your new house.  I know it is tough, but the best thing to do right now is focus on getting your old house ready to sell, THEN go look at houses.  And every client I have in this situation is going to think I am talking to them when they read this, but I am talking to ALL my clients in this situation 🙂

The absolute best thing to do when you need to sell first is to…..just sell first.  Yes, I mean sell your old house and find somewhere to live temporarily.  Will it be fun?  Heck no, but you will get top dollar for your old house and be in the best bargaining position on the new one since no seller today really wants to accept a contingency offer.  If a seller accepts one, it is usually a sign that you are paying waaaay more than the next highest bidder and/or that you have selected a house that is having trouble selling in the hottest market ever.  Neither of those are good.

IF you can buy the new one without having to first sell the old one, then do that.  You know you will sell the old one quickly and it is really nice to be able to get the new one ready before moving in.

But what if you can qualify for the new house without having to sell, but you really want or need your equity from the old one for a down payment?  Easy.  Get a home equity line of credit on your old one and use it for the down payment on the new one.  Sell the old one and pay it off.  It’s a simple way of moving the equity you have from the old house to the new one.

Common mistakes sellers make

Besides thinking the people on HGTV really know a lot about real estate, below are the most common ways sellers shoot themselves in the foot.  Granted, we are in a hot market and buyers are easier to please these days, but there are 228 houses in Lexington in the $100-500k range that have been on the market for more than 60 days…..not EVERY house in town is selling in multiple offers the first day on the market.

Here goes:

1. When sellers don’t finish moving out. If you are no longer living in the house, get ALL of your stuff out. You know you are going to have to do it anyway, right? It will make your house look better. Better looking houses sell quicker. Time is money.

2. When you don’t paint because you think you are somehow doing the buyer a favor by leaving it up to them to paint. I hear this a lot: “I don’t know what color the buyer will like and most buyers always paint after they move in anyway.” I can tell you that bad paint keeps a buyer from making an offer. If it doesn’t look good, they don’t want it. Fresh neutral paint is the cheapest thing you can do you make your house easy for a buyer to say YES to.

3. Leaving a lot of room for negotiating. An over inflated price usually drives buyers away. I see all the time where a seller will list for far more than the house is worth and eventually sell it for a little less than it is worth. The best model is to price it right from the start. If a house has been on the market for a long time, buyers assume there is no risk of losing it so they make a low offer just to see what you will take.

4.  Not doing any obvious repairs.  As a seller, your goal is to make it easy for a buyer to say yes to your house.  You want them to be excited and fall in love.  If a buyer walks in and immediately sees work that needs done, they begin to subtract whatever they think it would cost to change it, and they usually overestimate the cost.  You want your buyer to be walking around your house falling in love with it rather than subtracting repair costs off your list price.

I hope this helps you when it is time to sell.  The worst thing that could happen if you did all of this is that you sell your house for top dollar in multiple offers the first day on the market.