Should you find a house before you sell?

Buying, Selling

This is the main question that all sales valuers come up against when the seller wants to sell their home. This is the Chicken and Egg scenario!

The fear of putting your home on the market is that you will sell within the first lot of viewings, and you will have a buyer wanting to complete rapidly, only for you to not be able to find a place and you could render yourself homeless. The fear, stress and anxiety are so common with this question, even though, nothing has happened, yet it can be stressful just thinking about it.

So, what is the solution?

Truth be told, it is a positive fear to have rather than your property going on the market, and you cannot find a buyer at all.

There is no definitive approach to this conundrum and there are many variables that can affect this situation.

Below we are going to tackle the scenarios and what to do about them.

Shall I sell my house first and then find one?

My advice is to always find your buyer first. But in life there are always complications with anything you do, you hope that things can go smoothly and as anticipated. But I will always explain to my sellers to put their property on the market first because you can gage the market that way and you are in the driving seat.”]

Marketing your property first gives you that element of control and is literally the first step. Buying and selling is an emotional process, your family, life, finances and where your base is (being your home) are involved, so it is important to not be the emotional one first (in my opinion) because logical decisions are always better than rash emotional decisions, especially when there is money involved.

When you test the market with your property for sale, you want to make sure that you are choosing the right estate agent, and when your property is online, it is literally in front of the faces of the market (being public), you may be priced too high, you may have no interest on your property and it could take time to even get viewings, let alone buyers. The economy could be taking a hit and the property market could be challenging, so by listing your place first, there is no rush, essentially you need to find your buyer.

It just depends on how quickly that is!

However, let’s insist that the opposite happens, and you put your property on the market, only for you to have three asking price offers within the first lot of viewings.

Great news.
A seller’s worry is: What if I cannot find a house to buy? What if the home of my dreams is not out there? What if it takes a long time?

Then that is fine, you are in the driving seat. My advice is always that honesty is the best policy, if it is meant to be then it will work out. Don’t try to force it, as this is when things usually go wrong.

My advice is that the agent is honest with the buyer, the buyer is usually emotionally committed to the property and has fallen in love if it will be their family home. There is no rush in this situation.

The buyer would need to start the process of the mortgage application anyway which can take a few weeks before surveys are booked in.

We would speak with the buyer and tell them that our seller still needs to find a home for his/her family too. This may take 1 week or 3 months, would the buyer be prepared to wait?

If the buyer is prepared to wait, then great, you can start your process and can go shopping for your next home.

If your buyer is not prepared to wait, then you have choices (but you are still in control). If the buyer says that they will only wait 6 weeks, then you can still view houses and see what your options are.

We are also conscious that we do not want to waste a buyer’s money, so again, we would discuss with our seller to see what approach we want to make with our buyer. Shall we get our buyer to start the process of a survey being booked in and the mortgage application to start? Shall we take the property off the market for our buyer and hold off on the financial case until the seller finds. There are plenty of discussions and options, but again, the seller is in control.

One thing I would add, which is logical is that I would advise my seller to have an idea of the areas that they are going to. As a seller, before your property is on the market, you should be scouting areas, driving there, eating there, and walking around the areas that you ‘think’ that you want to live in. You should be signing up to a property portal and obtaining an understanding of the market in that location, what are the prices doing? What are the local schools like? The amenities, etc.

I wouldn’t advise listing the property first without having some sort of idea of what and where you are going to go.

Shall I find my house first and then sell it?

You can do and of course, in some cases, this can work out. But my general advice to our sellers is not to, again every situation is bespoke and I would advise you to speak to one of the team first if you are not sure.

I will tell you a story, a true story where a family member didn’t listen to my advice and did just this, he found before selling.

He found the home he wanted to relocate his family to and made an offer at the asking price which was accepted, he had competition from other buyers and wanted to force the arm of the seller. He now had to market his property, which he did. The property did not sell straight away because it was on for slightly too much money, he mentioned that he had to achieve a certain amount of money to afford his next purchase.

The agency that he was buying from was constantly on the phone with him asking how his sale was going, he had to lie and tell the agent that he had offers, which he didn’t have.

To cut a long story short, the agent he was selling with had to drop the price of his home to sell it, then had to call the agent that he was buying from to try to re-negotiate the deal.

He was under an awful lot of stress throughout the whole transaction and never wants to move home again.

He sold his property for (in my opinion) under market value and purchased the new property for too much money. Therefore, losing money in the process all because he got emotional and went shopping before he had the buyer. His back was against the wall and there was a lot of pressure on his shoulders.

He could have sold first and there would have been an element of control in that situation. If the property was not attracting a buyer, he could have readjusted his price and then taken his time to achieve the right price.

Instead, he went shopping, fell in love with a new home and was playing catch up, not an ideal scenario for your stress levels or your pocket.

How an agent views you if you are a buyer that has NOT sold

A busy estate agency will have hundreds of buyers on their database, realistically it is very difficult to service that many potential buyers, so what agencies do is they categorise their database into Hot Buyers, Warm and Cold Buyers.

Meaning that the ‘Hot Buyers’ will be put at the top of the list, these are the people that are ready to buy within a reasonable budget and are ready to go.

If you still need to sell your property and it is not even listed on the open market, then you will be written down as a cold buyer until you sell.

If the market is a buoyant one, the agent may not even entertain you as a buyer. From personal experience, a seller may have a family, and busy schedule, and only want serious ready to move buyers viewing their home. If you are not yet on the market, there could be a lot of time wasted for no sale, therefore bringing you around to a seller’s house could even show an agents inexperience in the marketplace.

We would truthfully explain your situation to our sellers and see if they want to entertain your viewing.

In the bad market, you have more chance because an agency will be doing all they can to drum up numbers and get people through the door to show their sellers that they are doing a good job.

A hot buyer would be:

• Chain Free Buyer
• First Time Buyer
• Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC) – this means you have a buyer committed to your home.

A hot buyer is ready to move, not someone who is ‘listed and not sold’ or even worse ‘not listed and not sold.’

As an agent, we must work for the best interest of our sellers.

A few tips on the buying and selling process with this blog, click the link.

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