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  1. Guides
  2. Selling and buying a house at the same time
Buying a house
Buying a house
Last Updated 15 November 2021

Selling and buying a house at the same time

Sam Edwards
Writer
  1. How to buy a house
  2. 3
  3. 4
    The cost of buying a house
Table of contents
  1. 1. Is it better to sell your home before buying a new one?
  2. 2. How do I sell and buy at the same time?
  3. 3. How much does it cost to buy and sell property?
  4. 4. How does buying and selling a house work with a mortgage?
  5. 5. Can you put an offer on a house before selling yours?
  6. 6. What fees do I have to pay when buying and selling?
  7. 7. FAQs

Most people buy a new home at the same time as selling their old one. While a common process for homeowners, buying and selling can be both complex and stressful. Alone, each transaction requires a lot of work, but combined, it can feel like an impossible task.

Buying and selling is not impossible. While certainly stressful, you can minimise all that excess stress by splitting the process up into chunks that you can deal with one step at a time. We’ll take a look at this timeline later in the article. First of all…

Is it better to sell your home before buying a new one?

While there are pros and cons for both, ultimately, it is better to sell your home before you buy a new one. A lot of people might assume this will mean they’ll have to spend ages renting, but this isn’t the case. There are ways to coordinate your sale so that the times that you sell and buy are extremely close together.

A lot of people think selling before buying will make them homeless. But all selling is - is accepting an offer - and pressing the 'pause' button. If you time things right, you're likely to stay in your house right until the day you move into your new home.

Pros of selling your property before you buy

1. No onward chains

If you sell your house before you buy a new one, homesellers will find your offer more appealing because you're not part of a property chain. Having sold your home, you're no longer relying on someone else to buy it. This makes you a non-sale dependent buyer, because you have no onward chains. Property chains are infamous for making things very difficult further down the line.

2. Easy to get a mortgage

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

3. You know your limit

When you're selling and buying, it's really useful to know exactly how much you will make from your old property before you purchase a new one. If you've sold your house already, you know how much you can afford in a maximum bid, and how much you'll need to borrow to afford your new one.

4. Less pressure

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

Cons of selling your property before you buy

1. Declining good offers because you’re not ready

You might spend much longer reviewing and accepting offers if you don't have a timeframe in which to move. 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, you won't be able to move to your new property in time for move out day. This means you'll have to rent or stay with family, and move all your belongings into storage. This can be both expensive and exhausting. Rent amounts are much higher than mortgage repayments.

3. Changing market conditions

If you sell before you buy, the conditions on the property market might have changed for the worse. You could find yourself being out-priced by local house prices, or settling for a property you didn't want.

How do I sell and buy at the same time?

There isn’t a right or wrong way to buy and sell, but you can make things much easier for yourself by following our process. Essentially, this boils down to:

  1. Putting your property on the market.
  2. Looking for properties while offers come in.
  3. When you accept an offer, you put in an offer for the house you want.

In the section below, we expand on our buying and selling process in much more detail.

Buying a house can take as long as five months, and selling can take as long as six, so it’s important that you know all the steps involved so you can move as quickly as possible.

Buying and selling process

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

1 - Decide what kind of property you want to buy

If you're looking to sell your property, you probably already have some idea of the area and type of property you'd like to move to. If you don't, now's the time to get some ideas down.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you want to move to a new area?
  • What do you want from your new home?
  • Have a think about the ways in which a new property could improve on your existing one.

2 - Pick three estate agents to evaluate your property

Getting an idea of your property's up-to-date market price will help you work out your finances. Knowing your property's value will help you work out:

  • How much you could sell your home for
  • Whether you'll need to pay off any existing mortgage
  • How much you can spend on your dream home

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

  • Online valuation
  • Estate agent valuation

We speak about these two types of valuation in much more detail in our guide, 'How much is my house worth?'. However, if you are committed to buying and selling, it's best practice to pick several agents to come round and evaluate your property.

In-person valuations are much more effective than online valuations. With three valuations from three separate agents, you can choose the best realistic estimate, and see if your property has increased in value.

3 - Work out your finances

To temper your dreams of a new home, you should 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 'Costs of selling' for more details.

4 - Start looking for properties on property portals while shortlisting agents & conveyancers

Start your search for properties you'd like to buy. 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 house, think about monthly mortgage payments. Will you be able to afford them? Will there be any service charges (leasehold property) you'd need to budget for?

This is also a good time to decide which estate agent you’d like to work with, as well as prospective conveyancers to help complete your sale and purchase.

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 from your preferred mortgage lender.

Agreements in principle give you a quick indication of how much your lender is willing to lend you, as well as whether they’ll actually lend to you. They’re great for taking a bit of pressure off your future mortgage application.

6 - Instruct an estate agent

You’ve got to know some of the local estate agents, and hopefully you’ve received more than one valuation. That means you’re in good hands to decide which agent you want to instruct.

Choosing the right estate agent will have a big impact on your property sale. They'll use their property expertise to:

  • Market your home
  • Take the lead in negotiating the right price
  • Keep things moving throughout the later processes by speaking with both parties

7 - 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 live in, it's time to prepare your property for going live on the market.

At this stage, you should listen to your estate agent. They’ll provide advice on how to maximise your home’s potential after they examine it. There might be a few quick fixes that could bump up its attractiveness to potential buyers.

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

Your agent will also take pictures of your property and make a floor plan. You should check these details before they go live on property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla.

7 - Instruct a conveyancer

As above, you’ll likely 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.

8 - Put your property 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 property 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 - Check your property’s performance on property portals

Most property portals allow you to check your listing's statistics (your agent will give you a username and password), but you can get them all in one place with our free Live Listing Monitor. It lets you see your listing through a buyer’s eyes.

10 - Receive and review offers

You should start to receive offers several weeks after your property goes live. Review them all and see which one fits the bill.

11 - 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 that you wish to buy. Tell them that you're 'under offer' and you’re ready to move.

12 - Accept an offer on your house

It’s time to accept the best offer on your property.

When you accept an offer, the buyer’s conveyancer will arrange for surveys to check the structural integrity of your property. Their lender will also send an inspector round to evaluate your property to make sure it meets their mortgage limits.

13 - Make an offer yourself

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

14 - Make an official mortgage application and arrange for surveys

If your offer is accepted, the next steps are arranging your mortgage fees, and getting surveys and searches done on your new home. This is a process that you will have experienced after accepting an offer on your own property. However, when buying a house you will need to pay for the surveys and searches yourself.

Ideally, your official mortgage application would be with the same lender you received your agreement in principle from. Your lender will send an inspector round to the property you’re hoping to buy to confirm its market price.

The type of survey you get will depend upon your budget, the type of property you're buying, and your mortgage provider's requirements. For example, if you're buying a new house, it's likely you'll only need a 'snagging' survey, which is 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, for example, if the property has subsidence, you might be better buying another property.

If your offer gets accepted, you'll enter the conveyancing phase: the legal process of transferring ownership of a property from one person to someone else.

When you buy and sell a house simultaneously, you go through the conveyancing process twice:

  1. To pass ownership of your home to the new buyer
  2. To take ownership of your new home from the seller.

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

What is a property chain?

When you get a number of people buying and selling property, you get an interrelated collection of pairs - in other words, they come become a chain because all the links need to complete their transactions. Nobody can buy or sell until all the links are connected.

Chains are delicate. The longer it takes to get a chain together, the tougher it gets to complete a sale. You only need one link of the chain to break for the whole thing to collapse.

How to prevent a property chain from collapsing

Managing a property chain can be hard work. Here are some ways you can prevent a chain from collapsing late into a deal.

  • Prepare for the road ahead. If you’re prepared and hand in paperwork on-time and in full, you can increase the chances of things running smoothly (at least from your end).
  • Build momentum at the beginning. If you’ve been looking for properties throughout the process, you’ll be ready to pick one once you accept an offer. It can be tough trying to do all these little things at once, but it’ll pay off once the sale and purchase are in motion, and you’ve not fallen behind.
  • Make your aims and objectives clear at the beginning. Know exactly what you want from each transaction (your sale and purchase) so you can easily meet these objectives on time.
  • If you’re working to a timescale, then everyone in the chain needs to know what that timescale is. At the same time, you shouldn’t set early completion dates that suit you, and you alone. Everyone needs to complete their transactions at the same time, and you should respect that everyone has their own lives to work around.

15 - Exchange contracts

The exchange of contracts is the day that your house sale and purchase are made official. You'll pay your deposit for your new home, and be paid a deposit by the buyer purchasing your house. After this point, it's incredibly difficult to pull out of the transaction.

If possible, try to exchange the contracts for your new property on the same day as you exchange with the buyer of your current house. You will then be able to put the money they send towards your new deposit.

Of course, it's not often that the deposits will match up exactly. Keep on top of your budgeting throughout the buying and selling process so you're not caught out if you have to pay a bigger deposit for your new home.

16 - Sort moving arrangements & completion

The final step is to prepare for your move!

First things first - 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. They don't have to be on the same day. However, if you 'complete' your home sale before you move into your new house, you'll need to find somewhere to stay (and store your things) in the meantime.

Once this has been arranged you can get down to the logistical bits, such as:

  • Booking a removals company (removal costs)
  • Telling your utilities providers about your change of address
  • Buying any furniture you may need, and donating or selling any belongings you don't need to take to your new home

Remember: Traditionally, most people vacate their sold property by 1pm.

How much does it cost to buy and sell property?

While you can make an estimated guess for the costs of buying and selling as individual processes, it's impossible to say how much they cost together. This is because there's no way of knowing:

  • How much equity the average person has in their home
  • How much the average person makes from selling their home

Without the knowledge of these two things, the overall costs of the buying and selling are extremely ambiguous. It's mostly down to personal circumstances and chance.

You may be worried that buying and selling at the same time will cost you more, but it depends entirely on your situation. If you manage buying and selling well, they shouldn’t end up costing you any more than they would 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 have to roll it over, and you may have enough money to buy a new home without applying for a new mortgage.

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 will 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 on your property first.

It’s in the best interest of the vendor to choose the most stable offer. An offer from someone who hasn’t received an offer on their house yet, is essentially an offer that’s conditional on a potential offer - which, for all intents and purposes, might not happen.

What fees do I have to pay when buying and selling?

While the fees for buying and selling are expansive, we’ve collated the basic costs for both. For more information, please refer to our guides to selling and buying.

Basic costs for selling a house:

ServiceCostAverage
EPC£35 - £85£60
Estate agent fees0.75 - 3%1.9%
Removal costs£900 - £1700£1300
Mortgage fees (Exit Fee)£300£300
Conveyancer fees£400 - £1500£1000

Basic costs for buying a house:

Type of costAverage costTotalNotes
Conveyancing£1500 - £2000£1750Legal fees (not including disbursements).
Mortgage valuation£200 - £405£300House valuation before your mortgage can be validated.
Mortgage deposit5 - 10% of property price£20,252.025 (7.5%)How much money you need to buy a house worth £270,027.
Removals£900 - £1700£1300Removal fees vary due to a variety of factors.
Stamp Duty (SDLT)Fixed rateFree / £2,212Free for first time buyers up to a certain price.
Total£16,101.35 - £31,102.75£26,814.25n/a

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).

How long are properties taking to sell?

Currently properties are selling very quickly. You can see how quick properties are selling in your area with our House Prices Tool.

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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The cost of buying a house
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