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7 tips for buying and selling a home at the same time

Moving house can be stressful enough — but what if you're buying and selling a home at the same time? We've got top tips on how to make sure your buying and selling timelines line up.

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How to plan ahead when you're buying and selling at the same time

They say that moving is one of the most stressful things you'll ever have to deal with — but things get a lot more complicated when you're trying to sell your old home and buy a new one at the same time. When you want to make your selling a house timeline line up with your buying a house timeline, there are a lot of details to consider and it's easy to feel overwhelmed. The key? Planning ahead.

The best thing that you can do when you're buying and selling at the same time is to try and stay organised. With a little bit of organisation and the right estate agent to guide you through the process, it should be pretty smooth sailing. And remember, though it may feel daunting, buying and selling at the same time is actually incredibly common. Most people need to sell their home in order to buy a new one, so you're not alone. (If you're just getting started, our online valuation tool can help you find out what your home might be worth.)

Here are our top tips for when you're selling up and moving on.

1. Work out your finances

A lot of people get sucked into the chicken-and-egg conundrum of "do we buy first or do we sell first"? But the truth is, that's normally more down to your finances than a philosophical debate about which is better or worse. There often isn't a right or wrong answer, there's just the fit that's best for you.

Most people can't buy before they sell — unless you have a lot of cash on hand, you need the sale of your last home to fund purchasing your next one. Even if you have the cash to put down the deposit, you risk losing that if you can't come up with the rest of the funds when it's time to close the sale. So for most people, they'll be trying to sell their home first — or at least get a solid offer or contracts exchanged — before they can seriously commit to a new property. Even though it's tempting, try not to fall in love with your new dream home before you sell your current one, because you could just be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Of course, that means you might not know exactly what your budget is until you have a confirmed offer on your current home. So sit down and work out your finances, whether it makes sense to sell before your buy, and the budget range you'll be looking in depending on the price you get on your current home. You can also use this exercise to try to work out the bottom line of what you need to get for your current home, so you know your red lines when accepting offers.

Even though it's tempting, try not to fall in love with your new dream home before you sell your current one."

2. Plan your timeline

Once you've decided if you're going to try to sell first or buy first (for most of us, it will be selling), it's time to start thinking about timing. Start taking the first steps toward selling — choosing an estate agent, doing any work that you need to do to add value, and beginning the listing process. Once viewings and offers start coming in, you can start to look in earnest. Your offer will be taken more seriously if you have an offer on your current property, so it's good to keep that in mind.

Quick tip: It's tempting to start looking at what's out there as soon as you want to sell. But not only may you fall in love with a home before you've even sold, as we mentioned above, you run the risk of burnout. Especially if the market is hot and there are plenty of properties out there, you want to pace yourself — viewing fatigue is real.

3. Be proactive

If you are keen on a quick sale, there are a few things you can do to move the process along. Sure, there are no guarantees — especially when dealing with chains (more on those in a minute). But if you're proactive, you can try to help your home sell fast.

Doing things like arranging an EPC in advance or staging your home so it looks its best can help speed up the selling process. The quicker your viewings and offers start coming in, the quicker can you can start to make moves on your new home.

Plus, organizing in advance can help you feel on top of everything and keep your stress levels at a minimum.

4. Understand chains

If you're trying to buy and sell at the same time, you may end up in a chain. "Chains" are estate agent jargon that you'll hear a lot — but it basically boils down to a series of home sales that are dependent on one another. If I agree to buy your home, but I still need to find a buyer for mine, then a chain starts to form. If I then find a buyer for my home, but they're waiting for theirs to sell, the chain gets longer. We're all waiting on one sale to happen for the others to go through.

The average time for home sales in a chain is six months — a lot longer than sales without a chain. It's not necessarily a huge problem (sales happen in chains all the time), but it's good to budget your time accordingly. And remember: the longer the chain, the more complicated things can become.

5. Negotiate smarter

Knowing how to negotiate is key — and your estate agent should be leading the way. If you have already exchanged contracts on your home, you'll be in a stronger negotiating position.

If you do sell your home first and are living with friends or in rental accommodation until you find the right place, you're in an even stronger negotiation position — you can move quickly and have no chain attached.

If you're ever in doubt, talk to your estate agent about how to try and time things to put you in as strong a position as possible.

6. Budget for hiccups

If you're buying and selling at the same time, there's a good chance you'll run into a few hiccups along the way — so it helps to plan ahead, in terms of time and money. If you're dealing with a long chain, things can fall through anywhere along the way and set you back. If you sell your home before you make an offer on a new one, you'll be in a stronger negotiating position but you might end up spending money on rent. Be sure that you're being realistic about bumps that can come up along the way.

At times, you may feel like you're juggling a lot of different balls at once — so keep the lines of communication flowing."

7. Focus on communication

Finally, the most important thing to remember when buying and selling at the same time is communication. At times, you may feel like you're juggling a lot of different balls at once — so keep the lines of communication flowing.

Your estate agent should be at the heart of this, but there are also your solicitors and the solicitors of the buyers/sellers you're dealing with.

It's worth checking in to make sure everything is flowing smoothly — and it might just help keep your nerves calmed and feeling more in control.

Lots of people buy and sell at the time, so although it may be stressful — and at times, really stressful — you'll get through it. Having the right team and staying organized is crucial, so make sure that you keep communicating. And remember that, at the end, it will all be worth it. Just think about the moment that the keys are in your hand.

Want to learn more? Check out our process of buying a house guide — it breaks down every detail, so you can plan ahead.

Buying and selling FAQs

Great question — and a really common one. Remember, people do it all the time so, though it may be stressful, it's well-trodden territory. Most people will have to sell their home before they buy the next one (unless you have a lot of cash on hand), so starting the valuation and listing process is a good place to begin. But you can also start to keep an eye out for what's on the market that you might be interested in. Being transparent and keeping communication open with your estate agent, as well as any potential buyers or sellers, is normally the best way forward.

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Book a valuation

If you're seriously considering going on the market and need an accurate figure, book a valuation with your local Strike Agent. In the current climate, we’re happy to offer a virtual valuation at your convenience.

There’s never any obligation to sell with us. If you do want to go ahead, we can have your home online in as little as a few hours. 

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