How to Buy and Sell a Home at the Same Time

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated February 7, 2022
Couple walking through door of house
Photo: Tony Anderson / Getty Images

Buying and selling a home at the same time can feel like you’re pulling off a magic trick, but it’s possible

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Picture this ideal real estate scenario: Within days of the seller accepting your offer on a home, you accept an offer from a buyer for your current home. Both transactions go smoothly, plus you have plenty of time to pack up for the big move. 

It’s not exactly a pipe dream to achieve this state of homeowner zen, but it requires plenty of planning and logistical organizing to get it right. Here are a few tips to limit the stress of buying a new home while selling your current one.

1. Get Your Finances in Order

If you’re hoping to buy and sell a home simultaneously, you should spend some time preparing your financial information before starting either process. Start by assessing the mortgage information for your current home, including tax forms. This financial information will come in handy when you apply for preapproval for a new mortgage.

Additionally, you’ll want to explore financing options in case you close on the new home before you sell your current one. Most homeowners cannot afford to buy a new home without selling their current one, so you should consider other financial options. For example, a bridge loan is a short-term loan option that allows you to take money from the equity in your current home to cover the down payment and closing costs on the new one. 

2. Gather Your Team of Real Estate Professionals

Juggling the sale of your home while finding a new home can be tricky. To pull it off, you’ll need an experienced real estate agent working on your behalf. Remember that you’ll need to hire two agents if you’re looking for a home in a new state or area. Your realtor will guide you through reviewing offers for your current home and making a competitive offer for the one you want to purchase. Plus, they’ll arrange open houses and other client showings so you can focus on the search for a new home.

Aside from your real estate agent, you’ll also want to hire a home inspector, appraiser, and a real estate attorney—in some states, you’ll need one in addition to an agent to finalize the sale. 

3. Decide When to Make Your Move

Packing up and moving to a new place requires time and energy—and you likely have less of each during certain times of the year. Planning a wedding? Try to hold off on a major real estate transaction until after you return from your honeymoon. If you have kids and want them to settle into the new house before the start of the new school year, list accordingly. Consider all work, school, and event schedules to avoid adding more stress to the buying and selling process. 

4. Prepare Your Home for Showing

Agent showing kitchen in house
Photo: sturti / Getty Images

Even neat households can get thrown into a tizzy when it’s time to move. But if you’re packing your home and showing it to potential buyers at the same time, you’ll need to keep some semblance of order. Start by decluttering your home and making small repairs or upgrades, like painting walls, to prepare your home sale.

While you should wait to begin packing until the home sale is complete, you can get a head start by storing extra pieces of furniture or boxes in a storage facility. Or you can rent a moving container that sits outside your home, but be sure it’s not included in your home’s listing shots. This step is also helpful if you’re staging your home and need to store your belongings in the meantime.

5. Consider Short-Term Housing Options

When there’s a limited inventory on the market, there’s a strong possibility that your home will sell quickly. That’s great news, but what if you haven’t found a new home yet? Prepare for this scenario by exploring short-term rental options to stay in between addresses. 

If you’re moving for job-related purposes, corporate housing and extended-stay hotels are  good choices. If you want something that feels more like home, research sublets and even short-term rentals in your area. Some real estate agents are also relocation experts, so ask them for advice—they might have leads on short-term rentals that are perfect for your needs. Get quotes for storage units, too, so you have a place to store the bulk of your belongings for the interim. 

6. Avoid Buying a Home Before Yours Is Sold

The number one reason to sell your home before buying another is so that you can afford to pay for your new place. Getting your finances in order is especially important in a hot seller’s market, where only the strongest price offers survive. A contingent offer—meaning you have to sell your home first in order to purchase the second one—is acceptable in slower markets, but not when you’re competing against higher bids and all-cash offers. 

One method to buy and sell successfully is to start your house hunt in earnest only when you’ve officially listed your home. It can take several weeks to find a buyer and close on your current home, so even if you accept an offer soon thereafter, you should have time to ramp up your search.

Buying a home is a wild ride on its own, so when you add selling a home to the mix, it can make things even more exciting. When you stay organized and work with experienced real estate professionals who can guide you along the way, buying and selling at the same time becomes a more achievable feat.

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