Can You Sell and Buy a House at the Same Time?

Estimated reading time 12 minutes

When you read that title, you will likely be thinking about a process that may sound much more complicated than it needs to be. Selling a home is stressful enough after all, but what if you are buying too? Double the stress, right? Now think about that title again. Were you a first-time buyer when you bought your last house? If not, then you were likely selling and buying a house at the same time, making you part of a property chain.

Being part of a property chain means that you are selling one house whilst buying another and as one person moves into your old house, you move into someone else’s and the owners of that move into someone else’s and so on.

Sound familiar? The dreaded property chain, where one broken link can disrupt the property plans of so many. Ideally, it would never come to this, you would sell your house fast and then have ample time to find a suitable property without any time constraints or pressure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way in many cases. However, you can make the process smoother.

How? Follow our guide below to see how you can sell and buy a house at the same time and keep it relatively stress-free.

The steps to sell and buy a house at the same time

Delays in property transactions are inevitable. Problems discovered in the searches and issues with finances can slow down the process or even bring it to a grinding halt. Following the steps here will help you get the sale of your current house and the purchase of the next one flowing in the right direction with minimal disruption.

It is often best to have the property you are selling at least under offer first. This can work in your favour when it comes to securing a mortgage and finding a new home. With that in mind, let’s work through each step.

Get your property valued

Getting your property valued is the ideal first step as it gives you an idea of how much you could expect to get for it. It would be advisable to have three or more estate agents value your property. This is because some may over-promise and under-deliver. Whilst a high valuation may make you start seeing multiple pound signs, it isn’t always indicative of the current market. See what they say, look at the local housing market and see where you feel comfortable with pricing. You wouldn’t want to set an overly high asking price only to find that your house sits stagnant on the market for months because it is just too expensive.

Organise your finances

Money certainly makes the property world go round, so it is vital to get a handle on your financial situation and understand the outgoings and incomings that this property transaction will involve. Look at how much is outstanding on the mortgage on your current property and how much you expect to sell the house for. The difference between the two is the amount you can then use as the deposit on your new home. The equity, in other words. Don’t forget to also deduct any other costs associated with the property, such as early repayment fees. Then look at solicitor fees, stamp duty and the other typical costs associated with a property purchase. This will give you a much clearer picture of what you can afford and what position you are in financially going forward.

Speak to a mortgage broker

You’ll want a good idea of what you can borrow and what deals are out there. With your finances planned, you’ll be in a better position than most to present the broker with financial information that could help you secure the best deals. Remember to consider porting your mortgage too. This can sometimes work out much better than the deals currently available. You could also start tentatively looking at potential new homes to get an idea of what is available. We wouldn’t recommend making any offers at this stage as without your property having sold, you could inadvertently stop the chain from coming together as you may pull out of any potential deals when your property doesn’t sell quickly enough.

Gather together all the relevant paperwork

There is often a stack of paperwork needed to make sure a house sale or purchase runs smoothly, so having that prepared ahead of viewings, offers, and completions is essential.  Your energy performance certificate or EPC, your certificates for building or electrical work, your boiler certifications, and guarantees of any appliances that will remain in the property are essential. With you planning to buy a property too, it would also be worth making sure your ID and proof of address are accessible, as you’ll need those later on to secure your mortgage.

Prepare the home

If those interested in your property are going to make an offer, they are likely to want to see it at its best. You will no doubt be the same when you view properties you may be interested in. So, get decluttering and clean up. Give your house the makeover you feel it deserves to show off its best features. This is largely down to how much you want to put into it. A touch of paint in some rooms or the rearranging of furniture in another could be all it takes. However, if you have damage that is in urgent need of repair, this should be prioritised. Remember people often shop with their eyes so kerb appeal is important.

Choose your estate agent and conveyancer

You will have had your home valued by a few estate agents now and may have built a little rapport with them. Look at their reviews and find out a little more about their track record of selling similar properties to yours. Don’t forget to check their fees too. Some estate agents charge considerable sums for work that shouldn’t cost much at all. If these are proving to be a stumbling block, many cash house buyers like Gaffsy are fee-free, meaning you can sell and not have to pay a penny to get it done.

Once you have found a suitable estate agent, look for a conveyancer. This means that once an offer is made and you accept it, you are already ahead of the curve as your conveyancer can get to work right away. Fees for a conveyancer will vary depending on what is required of them, so as with many of these steps, do a little research to compare costs and find out more about their previous work.

Accept viewings and an offer

With the property now being marketed by the estate agent across their website, local branches and other property portals like Zoopla, the viewings should hopefully start to fly in. If an offer is made and you choose to accept, you should now ramp up the house hunting.

Just be aware that the process of accepting an offer and then actually selling the home can take anywhere from 10-16 weeks.

Looking for a new property

You already have a mortgage in principle from the lender and now with an offer on your existing property too, you are in a good position to encourage other sellers to deal with you. The knowledge that you are committed to a sale and will have the funds to purchase can be music to the ears of those looking to sell.

Just check your finances again to make sure the property you have found is still within budget and that all the associated costs can be covered with the sale of your current home.

You can, of course, make an offer on a property before you have had an offer made on yours but it can be much harder to have the process completed quickly.

Get your mortgage

Your mortgage in principle has been waiting to be converted to an actual mortgage offer and now you have found a property and had an offer accepted, your MIP (Mortgage in principle) can advance to a full mortgage offer.

Speak to your conveyancer

Now things are picking up the pace you should reach out to your conveyancer to instruct them to proceed with their work for your property purchase. They will conduct all the property searches and ensure that when it comes to completing the purchase, everything is compliant. This can take a long time so having your paperwork prepared can certainly help speed things up.  Without this step, the contracts can’t be exchanged so it must be completed correctly and as quickly as possible.

Order a survey

Your lender won’t just want to hand money out money without knowing that the amount being lent is justified so they will require a mortgage valuation survey to be carried out. This will help them see that the money being requested is a true representation of the property’s value. You should then also book a survey to evaluate the property. This will uncover any problems you have not seen in the property information pack, or any other documents provided by the seller. Surveys vary in cost depending on the level of thoroughness required. If the survey uncovers property problems that may cost a lot to rectify, you could negotiate a new price for the property or even walk away from the transaction altogether if the work would be too expensive or complicated to complete.

Exchange and complete

With surveys and searches complete on your new home, a mortgage offer in hand and someone ready to purchase your existing property, you are almost home and dry. You can set a completion date and have contracts exchanged. You will just need to make sure that all parties are comfortable with this date and that is why it can often be worth liaising with the estate agent and your solicitor. They can, on your behalf, help move the process forward. Just remain aware, that delays in other places on the chain can disrupt your property plans, so be prepared to work with the other parties involved where possible to ensure everything keeps running as smoothly as possible. With dates confirmed it may be a good idea to start packing. You are about to move out.

Tie up loose ends and complete

You now have your moving-in date and the date for your existing house selling. In the time between exchange and completion, you should now start to plan the transfer of utilities and other bills. Some will just move across to your new property without a problem. Settle up any gas, water and electricity bills for the property you are selling and inform the council of your move so the council tax account can be closed.

Book in your removal company if needed and continue packing.

Then, come completion day, your conveyancer will handle the final legal issues and deal with the transfer of funds. All you need to do now is hand the keys over.

What are the benefits of buying and selling a house at the same time?

Whilst the list above seems long, it is perhaps the most common way property transactions take place and it could save you money. Moving from one property to the next and being part of a property chain means that you will only ever be financially responsible for one property at a time. As well as this, the moving costs and storage costs will be greatly reduced as you’ll only have to move once.

Perhaps one of the largest benefits many people see is that when you sell at the same time as you buy, you are going to be in a stronger position when putting down a deposit. The funds from your sale can go towards this. Whereas if you were to buy first, a lender may be more reluctant to help as the sale of your existing property is not guaranteed.

Are there any disadvantages to selling and buying a property at the same time?

There certainly can be. Property chains can be hard work. They can break at any stage. A property survey may flag issues that sees one person drop out. Someone else may not be able to secure the mortgage they first hoped for and in some cases, a seller may pull out of a house sale altogether after having a change of heart. Any one of these instances breaks the chain for all involved.

Furthermore, it can be a slow process. The stage from selling your home to buying another one can mean that 3-6 months may pass before you get the keys to your new home.

Add in the work of both selling your existing home and buying a new one and it can become very stressful and take up a lot of your time. Fitting that in between work and family life can put immense pressure on the home life.

It is the most common way to move house but it can come at a cost. Ultimately, it is up to you to assess what you feel most comfortable with and what kind of timescale you put on your property plans.

A fast house sale is guaranteed with Gaffsy. We can make a genuine cash offer on your property and have cash in your account within as little as seven days. Operating as cash house buyers, the funds are guaranteed meaning there is no risk of a chain break. What’s more, we buy any house. Regardless of the condition, the location, or the type, This then allows you to move on to a new property with funds ready to put down as a deposit, for rent or maybe even purchase outright. Speak to our property experts today to start the process of a fast house sale.

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