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buying and selling a house at the same time

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 smoothy 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.

Find your best local estate agent based on how quickly they sell and how often they achieve asking price 

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 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.

For fee free mortgage advice at a time that suits you, request a call back from our partners at L&C

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, 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. Once you’ve done the math, if you’re happy it works out, make an offer.

Take a look at the range of hidden costs involved in buying and selling a home

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.

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.

Our conveyancing service can help you compare conveyancers – get quotes today

Take charge of communication

Your conveyancing solicitor may not agree with this tip, but there’s a lot to be said about 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 their are more links in the chain. This is a good way of ensuring everyone knows what’s happening and unplugging any blockages.

Don’t feel pressured by your estate agent

Remember, your estate agent is primarily concerned with getting paid. That means they’ll be keen to keep your buyer sweet, even though you’re the one paying them. While estate agents can help to move things along, they can also pile on the pressure for you to break the chain or rush into a sale when you aren’t completely comfortable. It is a personal judgement call as to whether you want to involve them more in the process and let them chase up loose ends with other parties in the chain, or instruct them to keep their involvement to a minimum.

Set a completion date

Once a completion date can be set 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.

In summary when buying and selling as a part of a chain you should:

  1. Get your property valued: invite 3 local agents round to get the right value
  2. Sort out your finances: How much mortgage do you need to bridge the gap to buy your next home?
  3. Speak to a mortgage broker to work through the finances and any deposit needed
  4. Take charge of communication
  5. Don’t feel pressured to do anything you’re not comfortable with

The HomeOwners Alliance helps members with queries on buying and selling their homes. To see how we can help, find out more about becoming a member

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  1. Thanks Liz for pointing this out, which we have redrafted to make it clearer for our readers. It is common for those buying a new home to exchange without a completion date. To reassure you – our content is written by our in-house experts and is then reviewed by other property professionals before it is published.

    Comment by Paula — May 31, 2018 @ 9:02 am

  2. “Set a completion date
    Once contracts have been exchanged a completion date can be set.”

    You cannot exchange without a completion date being agreed. This made me doubt the accuracy of all your advice.

    Comment by Liz Taylor — May 30, 2018 @ 3:54 pm

  3. a helpful guide for all

    Comment by keshava — May 26, 2017 @ 7:36 pm

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