Buying a home and selling one at the same time is never an easy task.
If your existing residence sells fast, you might have to rent a place to live in until you find a new home. If your existing home isn’t selling, you’ll likely have to make contingent offers – offers that depend on you first selling your current home – that aren’t as attractive to buyers. You could lose out on that possible dream home while you wait for your existing home to sell.
This leaves you with a big question: Is it better to put your home on the market after you’ve already moved out, or does it make more sense to sell that residence while you’re still living in it?
It’s a challenging decision. Not surprisingly, there are pros and cons to simultaneously buying and selling your home.
A Warmer Space
Kim Howard, co-founder of real estate brokerage Howard Homes in Chicago, says owners must consider a host of factors when deciding when to put their existing home on the market. What might be most important is the overall feel of a home.
Homes that are staged with furniture tend to sell faster than homes that are vacant, Howard says.
“That can be an issue because the major pieces of furniture used for staging – beds, couches, dining room tables – are often the first things you would take with you in a move,” Howard says.
The nearly empty home that’s left behind can feel cold and uninviting. This might seem frivolous – after all, buyers aren’t buying the furniture in a home. But the right furniture staged in the proper way can make a positive first impression that often leads to offers. Buyers can see how attractive a space can be, and that makes a difference.
Michelle Nelson, founder and host of the Build Your House Yourself University podcast in Maumelle, Arkansas, says that selling your house while living in it is often the lesser of two evils.
“You’ll have the challenge of keeping the house presentable and staged for potential buyers,” Nelson says. “That’s tough to do with normal day-to-day living. It’s even tougher while trying to pack up for your big move.”
But, selling after you’ve moved comes with its own challenge, Nelson says.
“If you try to sell your house after you’ve moved out, it will be harder to sell,” she explains. “Potential buyers have a difficult time picturing themselves in a sterile, empty home devoid of furniture, warmth and emotion.”
Moving Out and Staging
Nelson’s above sentiment holds true, though, only if you leave your home empty after you move out. What if you move out but stage the home you are leaving, with either your own furniture or items that you rent from a professional staging company?
This approach will cost more money – you can expect to pay $2,000 or more for the services of a professional stager and for renting furniture – but some real estate pros say it gives you the best chance of selling your home quickly and for the best price.
That’s because your home will look warm, but it won’t attract the clutter and mess that comes naturally when you and your family are living in it.
“If the home is occupied, it can sell, but usually for less and after a longer period of time,” says Jerry Koller, a real estate agent with International Home Realty in Irvine, California. “The reason? The owners think their homes are perfect the way they are. They don’t realize the cleanliness and the personalization are important to the buyer. They may love that old couch, but the buyers won’t.”
Koller tells the story of a recent listing appointment he attended. The home was packed with knick-knacks. The sellers of the home didn’t understand why buyers wouldn’t love these items as much as they did, Koller says. The cluttered nature of the house made it a more difficult sale.
The lesson here? If you can swing the cost of staging the home you’re selling after moving to a new home, you may be able to present it in its best possible light.
Have you been in this situation before? What worked best for you? Let’s get the conversation started in the comments below.
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