It’s often said that buying a new home is among the most stressful life events you’re likely to encounter. It goes without saying then, that buying and selling property at the same time will up your anxiety levels even more.
But unless you own your house outright, have a second home or the means to pay two mortgages at once, the dreaded chain is a necessary part of moving up the property ladder.
While there’s no denying that buying and selling a house at the same time can be a headache, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your transactions moving along smoothly.
Read on for our seven insider tips to make buying and selling at the same time, if not a breeze, then definitely as stress-free as is possible.
1. Do your research
Even if you’ve bought and sold before, it’s easy to forget what’s involved in a property transaction, so get up to speed with what you will need to do at every stage.
Before you get serious about your property search, it’s worth getting an accurate idea of what you can comfortably afford. To do this you’ll need to have your own home valued. Use an online valuation tool at the same time as interrogating the property portals for the latest sales figures.
This will help you understand how much equity you have in the property, and decide your maximum spend. Remember to factor in all of the costs of moving including your estate agent and conveyancing fees plus stamp duty. Talk to your mortgage lender at this stage so you’re clear on your options and the costs if you decide to move lenders.
2. Put your home on the market
You need to understand the basics about selling and buying a house to put you in best negotiating position. If you are selling as well as buying you should get your home on the market before you think about viewing properties and making offers. If you have accepted an offer on your home, you will be more attractive to vendors than someone who still has a place to sell – and estate agents will be more enthusiastic about forwarding your offers. You may also be able to negotiate for a better deal.
Choose your estate agent wisely – their interventions can make or break a faltering chain. Local high street firms are often better at managing tricky situations than bigger chains or online-only agents. As with conveyancers, get personal recommendations and read reviews. It’s worth inviting three firms round to value your property. Be wary of anyone quoting figures which are higher than you expect from your research.
3. Be organised – right from the start
If you’re buying and selling at the same time, you can make sure everything progresses smoothly by having all of your paperwork in order from the start. Get all guarantees for work on your property, gas and electrical safety certificates and mortgage documentation ready before your solicitor needs it. Be prepared to complete all your seller forms as quickly as possible and respond to any queries immediately too.
You’ll need an energy performance certificate (EPC) before you market your home for sale, so book an inspection with an accredited assessor as soon as possible. If you’ve had an EPC conducted previously, it would be worth attending to the energy efficient recommendations to boost your score.
4. A good conveyancer is key
The surge in demand for properties brought about by the stamp duty holiday, led to huge pressure on the conveyancing system and delays for many buyers. While situations like this can’t always be avoided, a proactive conveyancer can help you achieve a speedy house sale, so do your research before you appoint yours. Get quotes but don’t necessarily go with the cheapest. Look at online reviews, but even better, get personal recommendations from people who’ve bought and sold in your area.
You can appoint either a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to do the legal work around selling and buying a house. Bear in mind that, unlike conveyancers, solicitors sometimes work in different areas of law and may be required to attend court, making them harder to get hold of to work on your house sale.
5. Be realistic – and flexible – about timescales
A first-time buyer might be able to complete on a purchase in as little as six weeks. This is unlikely to be the case if you’re part of a chain. According to figures from Zoopla, it can take more like six months, depending on the number of people in your chain and the complexity of their purchases. Be realistic about how long it will take in your planning to avoid pushing up your stress levels. If you need to move for a particular reason, such as school applications or work, consider using rented accommodation once your property has sold.
When it comes to setting dates for the exchange of contracts and completion, be as flexible as you can. If you are buying and selling at the same time, the completion date will need to work for everyone in the chain.
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Stay in touch with your conveyancer and estate agent during the process, returning their calls promptly. It’s worth checking in regularly, especially if you haven’t heard anything for a week or so. Be careful of badgering them too much though – too many calls could distract them from the business of carrying out your searches.
Sign and return every bit of paperwork that comes your way immediately. And it’s never wise to book a holiday during the selling process, even if it feels like it’s taking forever. Check whether your solicitor or agent is taking time off too.
7. It’s never too early to start packing
There’s a lot to do on moving day so get organised well in advance, with a comprehensive checklist of all your key tasks. This is true for any home movers, but more so if you are buying and selling property at the same time, when the deadlines may be much more critical.
Sorting through all your belongings before you even put your home on the market will help you stage your house to sell and make things a lot easier when it comes to packing. Get quotes from removal companies at an early stage and decide what level of service you’ll need. Don’t leave packing to the last minute, you will need to vacate the property on time, leaving it clean tidy and empty of all your belongings.
8. Always have a contingency plan
While it’s likely your sale will go through smoothly, property transactions are a complex business and things sometimes don’t go to plan. This is amplified if you’re buying and selling your home at the same time because your sale and purchase could be affected by what happens up or down the chain. From problems with a survey to a buyer changing their offer at a late stage – or pulling out altogether, setbacks can cost you money and even jeopardise the sale.
Don’t worry about this unduly, but do have a contingency plan in place – moving in with family if your purchase falls through or applying for a bridging loan if you’ll need extra funds to secure your dream home, for example.
A big part of minimising the stress of buying and selling at the same time is having a good local estate agent on your side. If you’re looking to sell, we can help. Contact us today for more advice about managing the process.
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