Do I buy or sell first when it is time to move?
That is probably the most common question I am asked as a Realtor. That question is similar to “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” There is no easy answer… they both go together.
I suggest that you start with the money. If you can pay cash without selling your home, or if you can afford to own 2 homes, or if you are willing and able to get a bridge loan, then you can buy first and make sure that your move will take you into that one of a kind home of your dreams.
Most people, however, stretch to buy a home and find it safer to sell the old home first so you can use the money from that sale to pay for the new home. I can do a market analysis for you to find the approximate value of your existing home. Based on that number, you can talk to a mortgage professional and start the process to get financing for your move.
With cash or a loan pre-qualification (that has all of the documents approved by the lender), you can safely start house hunting with the knowledge that the homes you are seeing are homes you can afford. After a few days of house hunting you should know if the price range you are using will offer you a home that fulfills your needs. As long as there are several homes you would be happy with, you can get ready to list your home with the likelihood that when it sells there may be several good homes to choose from.
Before you list your home, clean house! I always tell people that when you are going through the “should I or shouldn't I move?” routine, it’s the time to clean house. Be ruthless. Go through every closet, every drawer, every cabinet and cupboard. Sort through all clothes that have not been worn in the past year. Look through the pots and pans that you don't use. Get rid of all the unopened booKs and gadgets that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Don’t forget those outgrown toys. Have a garage sale or take usable items to a charity. The same should be done in the basement, crawl space and garage. Get rid of the junk, organize the stuff you use often, and pack the rarely used items that you will need in the new house.
When you get rid of the clutter, you will be able to analyze whether or not you really want to move. You will be in great shape because the only stuff left in the house will be what you'll want to take with you. You may discover you don't have to move after all. Suddenly that closet that was "too small" will be large, open and spacious. Drawers and cabinets will be nice and conveniently organized. By making your house more livable, you've done yourself a huge favor. If the house feels roomy to you when you're done, it's bound to look roomy to a buyer. Buyers seem to assume that a person who keeps their home neat and clean will also take good care of mechanicals and hidden items. Call me and I can come over and look at your house much more objectivly - and we can work on a list of what really needs to be done.
If your house is neat, clean, and organized and still not meeting your needs then you know it is time to move. We will update the pricing analysis and list your house. When it sells, you will be ready to pack and move and now the job will be manageable. Your financing will be in place and this will put you in a strong negotiating position for the purchase of your new home. Moving is hard work. It’s like childbirth…lots of pain but worth it in the end.