Oh that tricky question; what should you do first? List the home? Make an offer on another one? Is it okay to buy and sell simultaneously? What's the risk and what happens is one falls through?
This can be a stressful situation but it's not uncommon. Many homeowners buy and sell at the same time. It can be a bit easier if you're doing the swap in the same town. Out of town or even out of state can be very stressful but not if you plan ahead and be strategic about the move.
Here are some simple tips anyone can do when buying and selling at the same time.
Talk to your agent about what is the best move.
Simply talking to your agent about the marketing, the desirability of the neighborhood and how fast your home might sell can help you plan for this transition. If the market is hot, you might consider finding a home first and locking that in before listing. If the market is slow, consider listing first and finding a home later. Your agent will tell you honestly which direction to try first.
Should you go contingent?
Contingent is when you put in an offer on a house with a condition that you can't finalize the payment until after your home sells. There may be some stipulations to this as well, such as, the home must already be listed, accepted offer, etc..
Contingent offers are also pretty tricky. Many homeowners in a hot market will not accept a contingent offer because they know about your offer is probably right around the corner. They are much less desirable and many listing agents will tell their sellers to decline a contingency offer.
This doesn't mean that sellers won't consider a contingent offer but it might be very risky and you may lose out on the home you really want. Each situation is unique and even micromarkets in particular communities and neighborhoods can vary from place to place, so it's extremely important to be in top communication with your real estate agent about the best move for each house.
What about a bridge loan?
A bridge loan or even a home equity line of credit, can offer a loan extension from one house to another. A bridge loan, allows you to tap the equity in your current home with short-term financing in order to buy your new home before your old house sells. You're basically financing to homes at the same time but just temporarily. Once your current home sells you can pay off the temporary bridge loan and move into your new home.
The downside is that very few lenders offer these types of homes. They're more likely to recommend a HELOC, home equity line of credit, in order to make the down payment. Remember though, with a HELOC you will be paying two mortgages.
I typically recommend that my homeowners put their home up for sale first and then once they've negotiated an accepted offer, they can get serious about finding and purchasing a new home. This can be a tricky situation however, especially if you've found the home you love before you've even listed your current home. This is why I recommend not looking at homes until you're ready.
Again, it all comes down to timing and understanding the individual markets that you're buying in and selling in. Talk to your real estate agent before making any serious moves so that you can plan ahead, strategize the right plan of action and be prepared for a roller coaster ride over the next couple of months.
The right agent can certainly make all the difference in the world.