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Help! I’ve sold my house but can’t find a new one…

It's a common cry in this sellers' market. Don't panic - there are options...

Post updated: March 7th, 2022

4 minute read

Sold house but can't find new one

First of all, congratulations on selling your home. Before you become overwhelmed by the fact you’ve sold your house but can’t find a new one, let’s pause and look at the advantages of your current situation.

Advantages of selling before you buy

In securing your sale now, even though you haven’t found a new place to live, you have also:

  • Locked in a good price. Hopefully you would have taken advantage of the current sellers market and secured close to your asking price. Or maybe you’re one of the lucky 10% of sellers securing above asking price. Nevertheless, house prices are now 16% higher than before the pandemic struck in early 2020 so it’s a good time to sell. And with rises in inflation, interest rates and the cost of living crisis, no one knows what will happen with house prices next.
  • Secured a strong buying position. You’re in a great position now when it comes to putting in an offer and getting it accepted on your next home. Sellers will have a long line of potential buyers, but you’ll stand out from the crowd because you aren’t part of a chain. A long chain of buyers and sellers in a housing transaction means one thing: delays. And no one wants that.
  • Decreased the chance of gazumping. Selling before you buy also means you’re likely to be able to move more quickly and that makes you less likely to get gazumped.
  • Secured a clear budget. Having secured a buyer for your home you know exactly what you are going to make from the sale. This means you can start shopping for a new home knowing exactly what you can afford.
  • Avoided one of the biggest stresses of moving home: buying and selling at the same time

Where to live between selling and buying

But where will you live now, between buying and selling? We can feel the panic rising, but this doesn’t mean you are heading for homelessness. Here are some options:

1. Rent

One option is to proceed with your sale and once you’ve completed, move into rental accommodation while you search for your dream home. There are disadvantages to this move of course. Most obviously paying rent for a time is expensive. Not to mention the upheaval and hassle of moving into a rented property, especially if you have a family in tow.

2. Move in with family

An alternative option is to move in with family for a short period while you look for a new home. This will have the added cost of putting your furniture and belongings into storage. It may also put strain on your relations with family members so isn’t a decision to take lightly.

Sold house but nothing to buy – what are my other options?

Agree a long completion deadline 

If you haven’t exchanged yet, another option is to see if your buyers are prepared to wait until you have found a property before you exchange. Or agree to a lengthy time period between exchange and completion. This delay could give you time to find a new home, especially as more properties are expected to come on the market this Spring. And in a sellers’ market with very little property to choose from, you may just find your buyers are willing to wait. Just be aware that if your buyers are using a mortgage they will have a limit on how long their mortgage offer is valid for which could affect how long they can wait.

We’d advise against simply proceeding slowly and stringing your buyers along. If your buyers suspect you aren’t serious about selling, you risk souring relations and having them pull out.

Pull out of your sale

For some people, the costs and uncertainty involved in renting as well as the upheaval, means it is not a realistic option. And many people don’t have local family that are able or willing to have them camp out there for months on end. So unless your buyer is willing to sit tight and wait, there aren’t many options left except pulling out of your house sale. Before deciding though, speak to your estate agent and explain your situation.

Can’t find a house to buy – have you tried this?

Finding a home in a sellers’ market is a full time job. Here are some tips:

  • Create a property alert on every property portal: Zoopla, Rightmove, OnTheMarket, Boomin. But don’t rely on alerts – check what’s being marketed every day.
  • Visit all the local estate agents in the area you are buying. Explain your situation and that you are (moments away from being) a chain-free buyer.
  • Get help from a buying agent – Buying agents can find you the house of your dreams, even if it’s not on the market, and negotiate the best possible price. Read more about buying agents, how they work, their fee structure and to find a list of buying agents around the country.
  • Consider buying a new build. Consider new build developments in you area. And read our guide about buying a new build
  • Prepare for sealed bids – if you do find a property, chances are it will go to sealed bids or best and final offer. Prepare yourself for a bidding war with our guide on sealed bid tactics.
  • Get your finances in order – Make sure you have your mortgage agreement in principle and are ready to move as soon as you find the perfect home.

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