You know them…the people who want to move up or, possibly, move down. They have a house to sell and they want to buy a new home…simultaneously. They must sell their current house before they buy their new one, or they may have the luxury of buying first and then selling. Their biggest concern, and what keeps them awake at night, is what to do if they sell their house before they buy their next home. They’re “sandwiched” between their current situation and their desired situation, and the stressful market environment – and the anxiety it provokes – often paralyzes them into indecisiveness and stagnation where they end up staying put.
However, the Sandwich Buyer doesn’t have to suffer sleepless nights or abandon their plans to move. Here are tips for how to navigate the market and the process when you’re concurrently buying and selling:
Hire an exceptional Realtor
Hiring an exceptional Realtor – one with whom you connect and trust - is crucial to the success of the process. An exceptional Realtor understands the intricacies of all the moving parts on both sides. They can explain to you how all the dates and deadlines in the contract correlate to one another, and they can be the calming voice of reason during a highly emotionally charged situation.
An exceptional Realtor can also analyze the market on both sides to give you an accurate idea of how much money you will net on your house and have to work with for the down payment on your purchase.
Evaluate your financial picture
Consult with your financial planner, accountant, and lender about your financial situation, and whether or not you need to sell your current house in order to buy your next home. Is it possible to take out a HELOC on your current home, buy your next home with that HELOC as your down payment, and then pay off the HELOC with the proceeds when you sell your current house?
Your financial planner, accountant, and lender can help you understand all the financial scenarios available to you and help you choose the most beneficial plan.
Determine your ultimate goal
What’s more important – getting the price you want when you sell or only moving once? This is where understanding your ultimate goal comes into play.
If your main goal is to command the price you want for your house, then sell first when the market is in your favor but be prepared to move twice.
If your goal is to avoid the stress of a double move, then buy first, but understand that the market may change – for better or for worse – between the time you buy and when you sell, and you cannot get attached to the sale price of your house.
Price your house for the market on the sell side
Regardless of whether you sell first or later, when you sell your house, price it correctly for the current market conditions. If you are selling first, this is the first step in the process and the gateway to the rest of the process.
If you’re priced too high and waiting for your house to sell, you risk missing out on homes coming on the market that may be of interest to you because you’re a contingent buyer and your current house isn’t under contract yet.
If you’re selling later, by the time your house goes on the market you’re living in your new home and you now have two mortgages. Pricing correctly for the market means you’ll be back to only one mortgage faster.
Additionally, pricing your house correctly will afford you the most leverage because theoretically buyers will be competing to buy your house. When you have the leverage in the negotiation, you have greater ability to dictate your terms and have them met. That being said…
Be flexible on the buy side
Regardless of whether your buy first or later, be as flexible as you can. Keep your focus on the big picture – your desired situation and your new home. The seller of your new home may need a longer closing or a rent-back; if meeting this terms includes a short-term inconvenience for you, but it also means you are the buyer who wins in the multiple offer situation, in the long run isn’t that worth it?
The more flexible you can be, the more likely you are to win, and three years from now when you’re still enjoying your new home, the two months of inconvenience in renting back to the seller will hardly be memorable.
With an exceptional Realtor, a clear financial picture, a good understanding of your ultimate goal, and realistic pricing and flexibility, you’ll be able to successfully navigate the buy/sell or sell/buy process and be able to share your smooth, enjoyable Sandwich buying experience with family and friends. Happy house-hunting!
Renee Cohen is a Colorado Realtor with a passion for helping her clients find their dream homes in the challenging Denver market. She loves educating her clients about the market, advocating on their behalf, and helping them make informed decisions. Reputable. Reliable. Remarkable. Real Estate. Contact Renee to assist you with your real estate needs!