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HouseWorth
© GetAgent Limited 2024
  1. Blog
  2. Selling and buying a house at the same time: 15 steps
Home buying tips & advice
08 December 2022

Selling and buying a house at the same time: 15 steps

Sam Edwards
Senior Writer & Researcher
Happy couple hugging each other after buying a house.

Table of contents

  1. 1. Advantages of selling before you buy
  2. 2. Disadvantages of selling before you buy
  3. 3. How do I sell and buy at the same time?
  4. 4. 15 steps for selling and buying a house at the same time
  5. 5. How much does it cost to buy and sell property?
  6. 6. How does buying and selling a house work with a mortgage?
  7. 7. Can you put an offer on a house before selling yours?
  8. 8. Summary: Easy as one, two, three!
  9. 9. FAQs

Most people buy a new home at the same time as selling their old one. But while common practice for most homesellers, the process can be very stressful - so much so, it can feel like an impossible task.

Buying and selling property is not an impossible task. In fact, it's possible to split the process up into easily managed chunks.

We discuss this optimised timeline later in the article. First and foremost, let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of selling your house before you buy a new one.

Advantages of selling before you buy

1. You're more attractive to homesellers because you're chain-free

Homesellers will find your offers more appealing because you're no longer part of a property chain. In other words, because you've completed your own sale, your offer is no longer contingent on another party buying your home.

Property chains have an infamous reputation for making things difficult further down the line. As such, a chain-free buyer is a prized prospect for homesellers.

2. It's easier to obtain a new mortgage

Mortgage lenders are more likely to offer you a mortgage if you've already sold your home because the process of applying for a new one is much easier than rolling over (or ‘porting’) an old deal.

Paying off your old mortgage also demonstrates your trustworthiness as a borrower - you've made good on a previous debt, reflecting favourably in your new Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI) and credit score. As a result, better mortgage deals should now be more available.

3. You know your limit

Before diving into a house purchase, it's crucial to get a good handle on your finances, especially the funds you've received from selling your old home. Having this information can give your buying potential a nice boost, helping you make more informed decisions about your budget and possibly allowing for a more substantial down payment - and consequently, a better property.

4. There's less pressure

It can be tricky to balance two big processes simultaneously. If you've sold already, you'll be less stressed going into the buying process. You'll also have more time to decide where you want to live, rather than choosing somewhere mediocre due to time restraints.

Disadvantages of selling before you buy

1. Turning down good offers because you’re not ready

If you don't have a timeframe in which to move, you may spend much longer reviewing and accepting offers. If you're looking for the best offer, you might spend so long declining offers that you end up skipping the right one!

2. Finding temporary accommodation

Another issue with selling before you buy is accommodation. If you sell your property before you've even started looking for a new one, you won't be able to move to your new home in time for completion.

As a result, you'll have to move all of your belongings into storage, and rent or stay with family. This can be both exhausting and expensive. Rent instalments tend to be higher than monthly mortgage repayments.

3. Changing market conditions

Leaving your property purchase till after your sale could leave you vulnerable to new fluctuations in the market. You could find yourself being out-priced, or even settling for a property you didn't want.

How do I sell and buy at the same time?

Buying a house can take as long as five months, and selling can take as long as six. It's important therefore, to know all the steps involved so you can make the move as quick as possible.

While there isn’t a right or wrong way to buy and sell, you can make things easier for yourself by following this simple process:

  1. Put your property on the market.
  2. Search for properties while offers come in.
  3. Once you've accepted an offer, put in an offer for the house you like.

Below, we expand on this process in much more detail.

15 steps for selling and buying a house at the same time

Buying and selling a house at the same time is complicated business, but by simplifying it into 15 manageable chunks, you can easily take it on.

1 - Decide the type of home you'd like to buy

If you're planning to sell your home, you probably have some idea of the area and type of property you'd like to move into. If you don't, now's the time to do some research.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you want to move to a completely new area, or somewhere else in the same city or town?
  • What do you actually want from a new home? More space? A garden? Or are you downsizing?
  • Are you open to fixer-uppers, or would you prefer a move-in-ready home?
  • Is the new property aligned with your long-term goals? Does it accommodate your family or partner?
  • What kind of lifestyle do you want? Suburban, country, or somewhere right in the thick of it?

2 - Pick three local estate agents to value your home

The selling price of your home in the market will determine your potential earnings from its sale. Consulting with an expert for a professional valuation will provide you with a realistic estimate of what you can anticipate earning.

There are two ways you can find out the market value of your home:

  • An online valuation using a tool like GetAgent's
  • A valuation with an expert, like an estate agent

Online valuations are great for a ball-park figure - but they're not as accurate as a valuation from an expert - and when it comes to selling your home, getting your property valued accurately is extremely important:

  • Your property's market value dictates its asking price. An inaccurate valuation could lead to a lack of offers due to a poor reception on property portals.
  • A poor valuation could lead to your sale disintegrating further down the line. To ensure they are able to recuperate a loss, the buyer's mortgage lender needs to confirm your property's value matches their own estimate.
  • An accurate valuation will help you work out how much of the proceeds you'll need to spend paying off your existing mortgage.

If you're committed to buying and selling at the same time, it's best to pick several agents to evaluate your property. With three valuations from three separate agents, you're free to pick the most realistic estimate.

3 - Work out your finances

Now you have an accurate estimate of your property's value, you can work out your financial situation. How much equity do you have in your current property?

Using your valuation report, decide whether your home sale will cover the amount left on your mortgage, including exit fees and early repayment charges.

How much will you be able to put towards a deposit? A good mortgage broker could be useful at this stage. Asking yourself these questions will give you an objective idea of the amount you can actually put towards your new home.

Remember: There are additional costs that come with buying and selling, including Stamp Duty, conveyancing fees and mortgage repayment charges. See our guide to the 'Costs of selling' for more details.

4 - Start looking for ideal homes while shortlisting agents and conveyancers

If you haven't already, it's time to begin your search for your ideal home. Now isn’t the time for serious offers - just start shortlisting ideal properties in the area you'd like to move to.

If these ideal properties are more expensive than your current property, think about monthly mortgage payments. Will you be able to afford them? Will there be any service charges you'll need to pay?

This is also a good time to decide which estate agent you’d like to work with. Choosing an estate agent may feel like a no-brainer, but there's a lot resting on the one you pick.

Last but not least, you should begin searching for a conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor to help with the legal side of your transaction. Instructing a reliable conveyancer early is crucial for a prompt and timely sale. They'll also prove useful when you're finally ready to move.

5 - Get a mortgage agreement in principle

Now that you've gone over your finances and sought advice from a broker, your next step should be getting a mortgage agreement in principle (AIP) from your preferred mortgage lender.

Agreements in principle provide a quick indication of how much your lender is willing to lend you, and whether they’re likely to approve your application.

They’re great for taking a bit of pressure off your future mortgage application. They're also useful because they demonstrate your value as a potential buyer - a lender has already indicated interest in supporting your purchase.

It's worth noting that an agreement in principle should not be taken as concrete proof that the lender will finance your purchase. A real mortgage application involves a thorough credit search, which could see your application fall through.

You can read more about what to do if your application is rejected even after an AIP here.

6 - Prepare to put your home on the market

Now you've picked an agent you like, and you've established the affordability of the property you want to purchase, it's time to prepare your house for sale.

At this stage, it's imperative that you listen to your estate agent. They’ll provide advice on how to maximise your home’s potential - there may be a few quick fixes that could bump up its attractiveness to potential buyers.

Read our blogs 'What not to fix' and 'How to add value to your home', for more details.

Your agent will take pictures of your property and design a floor plan. You should go over these details before they're added to your listing on Rightmove and Zoopla.

7 - Time to instruct a conveyancer

You probably have a conveyancing solicitor in mind by now, so let them know you’re ready to act and complete the necessary paperwork.

Can you use the same conveyancer to buy and sell?

Yes, you can use the same conveyancer for both buying and selling. Provided you've picked someone reliable and experienced, using the same legal professional can have many advantages, including potential savings and efficiency.

8 - Put your house on the market

It’s time to put your property live on the market. Your agent will upload your property listing to the mainstream property portals and insert details of your property into brochures.

Depending on the state of the market, it can take anything from a few days to a number of weeks before you start receiving viewings. If it's a seller's market, your property will likely receive immediate viewing requests. Potential buyers have offline agreements with estate agents to notify them of properties they might like.

9 - Receive and review offers

You should start to receive offers anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after your property listing went live. Review all of them and see which one fits the bill.

10 - Start actively looking with intent to buy

Now you're receiving offers, and possibly deciding which one to accept, you can start your property search with serious intent. Make your position known to estate agents in the area you wish to buy in. Tell them that you're 'under offer' and you’re ready to move.

11 - Accept an offer on your home and make an offer yourself

When you accept an offer, the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor will arrange for surveys to check the structural integrity of your property. Their lender will also send an inspector to evaluate your property to check it meets the specification outlined in their agreement with the buyer.

Hopefully you’ve managed to time everything right and have already found your dream home. Make an offer and see what happens! Having accepted an offer on your property already, you’ll only improve your own offer’s chance of acceptance.

12 - Make an official mortgage application and arrange for surveys

Once your offer has been accepted, the next steps are arranging your official mortgage application, and carrying out searches and surveys on your new home. You'll need to pay for the surveys and searches yourself, as your buyer did with your house.

In the final stages of your application, the lender will send an inspector to the property you’re hoping to buy in order to confirm its purchase price as accurate.

The type of survey you order depends on your:

  • Budget
  • Property type
  • Mortgage provider's requirements

For example, if you're buying a new house, it's likely you'll only need a 'snagging' survey - a fairly non-intrusive investigation into the quality of work on the property. In contrast, if you're buying a fairly old home, you may want to consider a more thorough survey of the building's structural integrity.

If any issues arise at this stage, you may be able to negotiate a discount on the final purchase price. It might be useful to research how much it would cost (and how long it would take) to fix the problem. You can then use this information to negotiate a discount on your new house. Or, if the issues are too extensive (the property has subsidence), you may be better off a different property.

13 - Begin the conveyancing process

If your offer is accepted, you'll enter the conveyancing phase of the transaction: the legal process of transferring property ownership from one party to another.

When you buy and sell simultaneously, you go through this process twice:

  1. Passing ownership of your home to the new buyer
  2. Receiving ownership of a new home from a seller.

This creates what's called a 'property chain'.

Many property sales have been compromised by a fault in their respective chain. Here are some ways you can prevent a chain from collapsing late into a deal.

14 - Exchange contracts

The exchange of contracts is the day that your house sale and purchase are made official. You'll need to provide a deposit for your new home, and the buyer of your current home will also submit a deposit. Once this step is completed, withdrawing from the transaction becomes impossible without incurring penalties.

If possible, try to exchange contracts for your new property on the same day as exchanging with the buyer of your home. You'll be able to transfer the money your buyer sent over to your new deposit.

15 - Sort completion date and moving arrangements

You need to settle on a 'completion date'. This is the day you move out of the property you're selling, and pick up the keys to your new home.

While these activities don't need to be on the same day, if you 'complete' your sale before you move into your new home, you'll need to find somewhere to stay in the meantime.

The final step is to prepare for your move!

Once everything's been arranged you can get down to the logistical bits, such as:

  • Booking a removals company
  • Informing your utilities providers of your change in address
  • Buying any furniture you may need, and donating or selling any belongings you're not taking with you.

Remember: Traditionally, most people vacate their sold home by 1pm on completion day.

How much does it cost to buy and sell property?

While estimating the expenses associated with both buying and selling a home is possible, determining their combined cost is difficult. This uncertainty stems from the lack of information regarding two factors:

  • The amount of equity the average homeowner possesses in their home.
  • The typical profit margin achieved when selling a home.

Without a clear understanding of these variables, the overall expenses involved in buying and selling remain highly ambiguous, heavily influenced by personal circumstances and chance. However, with effective management of both transactions, these expenses shouldn't surpass what you'd incur if handling them individually.

For more information, you can read our guides on how much it costs to both sell your house, and buy a home.

How does buying and selling a house work with a mortgage?

If you’re selling your property and buying a new one, you need to decide whether to:

Of course, if you’ve already paid off your mortgage, you don’t need to roll it over, and you may have enough money to buy a new home without applying for a new one.

If you’re planning to sell your home and still have outstanding debt, use your valuation report to decide whether your home sale will cover the amount left on your mortgage, including exit fees and early repayment charges.

If you’re applying for a new mortgage, you'll need to go over the application process again. Lenders are more likely to offer you a mortgage if you've sold your home already, because it makes the process of applying for a new mortgage much easier than rolling over.

Can you put an offer on a house before selling yours?

Yes, you can put an offer on a house before selling yours - in fact you can put an offer on a house at any time - but the vendor might not take your offer seriously if you haven’t accepted an offer yourself.

It’s in the best interest of the vendor to choose a reliable offer from a stable buyer. An offer from a buyer who hasn’t received an offer on their house yet is, for all intents and purposes, a cheque without a signature.

Summary: Easy as one, two, three!

As stressful as buying and selling a house at the same time can be, it's possible to simplify the process into easily managed chunks. While it will never be a perfect process, you can make everything much easier for yourself by preparing ahead and planning accordingly.

FAQs

Can you use the same estate agent to buy and sell?

Yes you can use the same estate agent to buy and sell, but this negates the purpose of an estate agent. You need a good agent to sell your property. You don't hire one to help you buy a property. You use your preferred property portal to find a property you like, and you deal with its associated agent. In other words, it doesn't matter which agent you deal with when buying property.

If you do end up using the same agent, remember - their client is the vendor selling the property, not you, the buyer. If you’re expecting some form of special treatment, there’ll likely be a conflict of interests. You might expect the agent to cut you some slack or work on your behalf, but they will work in their seller’s interest.

If the agent is proactive and highly performing, and you’ve used them previously, you could use them. But you shouldn’t automatically use the same agent you’re selling with, until you’ve compared against others in your area. Plus , the house you want might not be on their list.

Can you use the same conveyancer to buy and sell?

Yes, you can use the same conveyancer to buy and sell property. It’s useful to have someone you’re familiar with handling both ends of your transactions.

Your conveyancer’s role will be slightly different during each of the processes:

When you sell your home

  • You should instruct a conveyancer before you receive an offer for your home.
  • Your conveyancer will make sure all the relevant paperwork is filled out before an exchange of contracts.
  • They will contact the mortgage lender and get the required documents (title deeds etc.) from the Land Registry.
  • They will prepare a draft contract and send it to the buyer’s solicitor.
  • Once both parties are satisfied, they will carry out the formal exchange of contracts and arrange a completion date.
  • Next, your conveyancer will ensure the safe transfer of deposit from the buyer’s solicitor.
  • On completion day, they’ll receive the sale funds. They will deduct their fee and your estate agent's before transferring.

When you buy a home

  • When you buy a home, you need to instruct your conveyancer (if you haven’t already).
  • They will carry out property searches (see here for more information) and request the final draft of the sale contract from the seller’s conveyancer.
  • If you need a mortgage, your conveyancer will discuss its terms and conditions with you.
  • Once everything in the draft contract has been approved, you will need to transfer the deposit into your conveyancer’s account.
  • Once this is complete, your conveyancer will exchange contracts with the seller’s conveyancer.
  • Your conveyancer will manage the transfer of the deposit as well as the rest of your funds and mortgage on completion day.

In terms of legal fees and disbursements, buying property is much more expensive than selling. There's a lot more work for conveyancers to do on behalf of buyers, plus a lot more charges (disbursements) they need to pay on your behalf.

Do you get your deposit back when selling a house?

Your deposit was part of the selling price of the property when you bought it. You can get your deposit ‘back’ if you sell the property for more than it was worth (providing you still have profit after the costs of selling).

Do you need a deposit when buying and selling?

Most people don’t need a deposit when buying and selling because they transfer their mortgage to their new property. However, this all depends on your mortgage situation. If you’ve already paid off your mortgage , you might make enough money from your property sale to forgo taking out another.

For more information, check out our blog ‘Can I transfer my mortgage to another property?’.

Can you view a house if yours isn't on the market?

Yes, property viewings are free to attend as long as you book first with an estate agent.

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