How to buy and sell at the same time
The dreaded property chain can cause chaos, tripping you up at the last minute. Here we take a look at the steps you can take to make things run more smoothly if you have to buy and sell at the same time.
In an ideal world, you’d sell your home the minute you put it on the market and then have all the time you need to find your next dream home while your buyers wait patiently until you’re ready to move. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and in most cases you’ll find yourself in a chain. While not uncommon, property chains can cause significant headaches, so if you’re planning to buy and sell at the same time, make sure you’re prepared.
Get your property valued
Before you start making plans to buy your new home, you need to get a clear idea of how much your current home is worth. Start online with our free instant valuation tool. Then get at least three local estate agents to give you their valuation. This is a chance for them to apply their local knowledge and take account of any unique features or home improvements which add value to the property, so you can get the most accurate figure. Some agents are renowned for giving an overly high valuation in order to gain your business. By getting three agents round you are hopefully reducing the risk of setting off with an asking price you have to reduce a few weeks down the line.
Work out your finances
Start by getting your head round your finances; how much can you afford to spend on your next house? How much equity do you have in your current home?
Then there is the chain to consider. When you exchange contracts on the property you want to buy, you’ll need to pay a deposit. You should exchange on the same day as your buyer exchanges, and therefore you’re able to use the deposit they pay you to pay your deposit on the property you’re buying. Still with us?
However, if your new house is more expensive than your current house it’s likely that the deposit required will be more than the deposit you receive. If this is the case, it may be that your solicitor can agree with your seller’s solicitor that the smaller deposit will be enough. If this isn’t possible, you’ll need to find the extra cash. It’s worth checking to see if you’re financially able to do this before you start the process.
You should also bear in mind additional costs such as stamp duty. You should be able to absorb this into your mortgage borrowing – but it’s a substantial cost so good to be aware of it.
Speak to a mortgage broker
If this is bamboozling you already, then a mortgage broker can help guide you to finding the right solution. That may involve re-mortgaging or porting your mortgage. The latter involves transferring your existing mortgage to your new property. Either way, a whole of market mortgage broker will be able to help.
Find an estate agent
When you have worked out your finances and are ready to start the process of buying a new home, you will want to get your current property on the market and find the right estate agent to sell your home. See our advice on finding the best estate agent and a tool to compare the performance of local estate agents. Alternatively, using an online estate agent may be something you would like to consider.
Be prepared to wait
Buying a property should generally take around 6-12 weeks from having an offer accepted to completion – although things can and often do go wrong leading to delays. When you’re buying as part of a chain however, things can take much longer. According to Zoopla, the average sale time in a chain is six months so be realistic with your expectations for when you’ll complete.
Maximise your negotiating power
While you’re perfectly entitled to put in an offer on a property when your own house is still up for sale, your offer will be taken more seriously if your own property is under offer. Indeed, depending on the market your offer may not be accepted at all. You’ll also be in a better position to negotiate a good price if your property is under offer.
Find a property and do your sums
Once you’ve found a property you like and had a property survey, work out the sums. Consider what work, if any, you’d need to do on the property and the associated costs and consult your broker again. Perhaps the survey has flagged up issues or perhaps you want to rip out the avocado bathroom suit (remember those?) as soon as you move in. Take a look at our guide on the range of hidden costs in buying a home. Once you’ve done the math, if you’re happy it works out, make an offer.
Get a good conveyancing solicitor
This critical part of the buying and selling process can be long and drawn out. Your conveyancing solicitor will need to conduct numerous property searches before any contracts can be exchanged. Unfortunately, this process can take even longer if you have a solicitor who is less than proactive.
Shop around for your conveyancing solicitor, get quotes from and speak to a few and read reviews before instructing them. The process should move smoothly but if you aren’t happy with the level of communication or speed of the process, get in touch and consider asking for a new case handler if things don’t improve. Here’s what to expect in terms of the conveyancing fees.
Make sure you read, sign and return any paperwork sent to you quickly and either hand deliver or use a special delivery service to ensure they’re received on time. Increasingly, conveyancers scan documents and share them on an online system you can login into. Make the most of this but don’t hesitate to speak to your solicitor on areas where you want clarification.
Take charge of communication
Your conveyancing solicitor may not agree with this tip, but there’s a lot to be said for managing communication of all parties in the chain. Ask the owner of the property you’re buying and the person buying your home for their contact details and maintain contact via email. They can also add people to the email if there are more links in the chain. This is a good way of ensuring everyone knows what’s happening and unplugging any blockages.
Get your estate agent involved
If you aren’t comfortable and don’t have the time to get involved with nudging everyone along, then here’s where your estate agent can help. They will want to get you swiftly from accepting an offer to exchange of contracts. According to the Property Ombudsman Code of Practise for estate agents, their obligations to you at this time include monitoring progress, assisting you where they can and reporting information deemed helpful to bringing the transaction to fruition. In most cases this role will be carried out well but if you don’t hear anything from your agent – or indeed you hear too much and think they may be adding stress to the system – then discuss the level of their involvement with them.
Set a completion date
Once everything is tied up, surveys and local searches are returned and any issues ironed out, you’re ready to set a completion date and contracts can be exchanged. This is the date on which the funds will be transferred and the keys will be given to the new buyer. It’s important that all parties co-ordinate a completion date that works for everyone. This will take some correspondence – via your solicitor and those of the other members of the chain – and you’ll need to be prepared to compromise.
Organise your move
You need to make arrangements for the supply of electricity, gas, water and telephone service, and that the seller has got readings made. Use our moving house check-list to help you plan your move and it is a good idea to consider the best day to move. You may wish to hire a removals company to pack up your current home and help with the move to your new one. See our guide on how to find the right removals company and compare removals quotes.
- How to break the housing chain
- The HOA Step by Step Guide to Buying a Home
- Should I sell my home before buying a new one?
- The hidden costs of buying and owning a property
- Do I need a mortgage broker?
- Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance – is it something I should consider?
- Step by step guide to selling your home
- How to make your home more valuable and sell faster