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How to buy and sell at the same time

The process of selling and buying a house at the same time can be complicated. 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 a house at the same time.

How to buy and sell a house 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 need to sell and buy at the same time. This results in a housing chain. While not uncommon, property chains can cause significant headaches. So if you’re planning to buy and sell your house at the same time, make sure you’re prepared.  Here’s our step-by-step guide to buying and selling a home at the same time.

1. 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.

2. 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.

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 or need to bear this in mind if you are a cash buyer. It’s a substantial cost so good to be aware of it.

3. 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 remortgaging 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.

Mortgage Finder

Get fee free mortgage advice from our partners at L&C. Use the online mortgage finder or speak to an advisor today.

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4. 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.

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

Find and Compare Local Estate Agents

This form will take you to for the results

5. 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, as much as 6 months. We take you through the typical timelines for each stage of the house buying and selling process and what you can do to help speed things along.

6. 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.

7. 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 costs in buying a home. Once you’ve done the math, if you’re happy it works out, make an offer.

8. 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.

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, conveyancing solicitors 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 conveyancing quotes today

9. 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.

10. 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 Practice 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

Leave a comment (16)* Required

  1. Graham PendersGraham Penders

    I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site. Reading this information So i’m happy to convey that I’ve an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed. I most certainly will make sure to do not forget this site and give it a glance on a constant basis.

  2. PaulaPaula

    I’m confused I’ve sold my house for £174000 I had an outstanding balance of £15000 which I am porting to my new property asking price of £156000. I can’t work out how much I would be owed once all completes

  3. Ron mckenzieRon mckenzie

    I have bought a house cheaper than the one I have sold but there is a delay between contracts completion. When is the surplus paid?

  4. NatalieNatalie

    The bottom of our chain are leasehold and we are having problems getting enquiries back. They are 4 properties in the chain. We are all ready to go apart from the leasehold..we are getting nowhere to resolving these enquiries. Ongoing since January..any advise??

  5. FranFran

    The article’s very helpful indeed, but please improve occasional spelling mistakes! From your staff member Paula’s reply below: “our content is written by our in-house experts and is then reviewed by other property professionals”. So please, experts & other professionals, in the article above it’s bathroom suite, not suit. You wear a suit of clothes but hopefully don’t live in those clothes.
    “Once you’ve done the math”. We’re in UK not US & you do maths.
    “Code of Practise”, ok, practise does exist in UK as a verb, but the noun here is practice, unlike US version.
    Thanks, & I do appreciate the article!

  6. Paul HackneyPaul Hackney

    Extremely helpful

  7. MohammedMohammed

    I own a property outwright and would like to buy another property can i get a mortgage out for new house and at same time sell my current home. Or unyil not sold can i put rental in

  8. GeoffGeoff

    I want to buy a bungalow i have no mortgage since my house is fully paid
    However, the bungalows in the area that i wish to my in are 30k more them the value of my house which is 250k{bungalows cost around 280k}What are my options i am retired and aged 57 with a secure NHS pension
    Thank you in anticipation Geoff

  9. RickyRicky

    I have been in a small chain since December 2019 where I agreed a sale of my property and subsequently secured an offer on a new property. A few weeks ago once all queries had been concluded I wanted to exchange but this proved difficult with my buyers as I could sense them stalling. News of Coronavirus ramped up in the last few weeks to which my buyers wanting to exchange and complete on the same day. One day before exchange and completion my buyers withdraws breaking the chain because of Coronavirus fears which subsequently left with £1k+ out of pocket. Surely there has to be something done about this? Grateful for any advice.

  10. ValVal

    Have property for sale not on market yet have £120,000 equity and £20,000 mortgage have seen bungalow we want to buy hopefully our property will sell ASAP but how do we make offer on new bungalow it’s perfect for our needs both retired with income of £20,900 p a

    • HomeOwners AllianceHomeOwners Alliance

      Dear Val – it’s exciting that you have seen a property that you like. It will be key to get an offer on your own property as quickly as possible so you are in a good position to proceed with the bungalow. Take a look at our guide on making an offer. Best of luck!

  11. dawn hiscocksdawn hiscocks

    I’m looking to buy a new house and do some work then sell our home. our home tis valued at more than the new home.
    what fees should I be looking to pay on both homes

  12. Liz TaylorLiz Taylor

    “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.

    • PaulaPaula

      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.

  13. keshavakeshava

    a helpful guide for all

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