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Which one do you do first? Buy or Sell?

Which one do you do first? Buy or Sell?

Have you ever gone to an open house? Or called a real estate agent about a listing you see? Maybe e-mailed an agent about a property he/she has listed?

You want to check out a house. Maybe you’re just curious. Or, serious about buying a house. Doesn’t matter. All you’re doing is wondering about a house. That’s it. That’s what you wanted to talk to the agent about…the house you came to see, or called about.

And one of the first questions an agent asks you
is, “Do you have a house to sell?

It’s a seemingly odd question, right? It doesn’t make sense for them to ask that question sometimes at that moment.  It might even seem a bit “cart-before-the-horse” or even come across as kind of pushy and forward.

Whether you have a house to sell or not seems irrelevant at that point. You don’t even know if you like the house, or will buy the house you are looking at. And maybe you aren’t even thinking about selling your house, until and unless you find the house you want and actually have an offer accepted.

So, why do agents bring this up all the time?

You probably figure it’s because they’re hoping you do have a house to sell, so they can list the home you own, sell you this one you are asking about, and get two sales off of you.  Or that they want you to list your home, and get it under contract, so that you have to move…(again, so they can get two sales off of you).

Which makes you feel like they’re just looking to make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, off of you. And, all of your fears and perceptions about real estate agents seem justified.  But that’s not the reason at all.


Whether you have a home to sell or not matters.

It might seem kind of early on for the agent to ask you this. But it’s not.  In fact, this question should be asked, answered, and addressed, before you even look at a house to buy.

Agents need to know this.  You need to know this.  And it has nothing to do with an agent wanting to make more money, or any money at all, off of you. Now it’s chicken or the egg time.  Sometimes it isn’t even a hard question to answer.

Because, if you own a home, the chances are…you need to sell your house before you can buy another one.

That doesn’t apply to everyone, of course. But most people simply can’t buy another home, until and unless the house they currently own is sold.  That leads to so many questions. Here’s a few of them:

  • Who wants to sell their home without having lined up the one they are buying first?  You mean I might be homeless?!
  • What if you can’t find a house you want to buy once your home is sold?!
  • Won’t that put you in a tough spot to negotiate the best price of a home you want to buy, since you will be under the pressure of time? Will you have to overpay just to make sure you have a house to move to?

Those are just a few of the most common, and valid, concerns.

Maybe You Don’t Need To Sell Your Home First…

Almost everyone an agent meets wants to be able to buy a house, without having to sell the house they already own first.  So, agents are always asked if there are alternatives.  Basically, there’s one that solves this problem every single time.

Do you have enough cash to just buy a house outright!? If so, you are in luck!

Go ahead and look for a house, and buy one. Move out of your house and into the new one. Then sell the old one at your leisure. You have options most people do not.  There are some other options if you don’t have the cash. But they aren’t definitely options for everyone, here are a few:

  • A bank might loan you money to buy your next house without selling your other one first. There are certainly circumstance and products that will allow for this. But this depends heavily on you and your financial picture and your ability to “pay for two houses” at the same time.
  • You might be able to negotiate a “home sale contingency”…meaning, the owner of the house you want to buy agrees to give you time to sell your home, and your purchase is actually contingent upon getting your house sold. (Tough thing to negotiate in our current Seller’s Market, or with sellers in general. It isn’t all that appealing to sellers. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute… Would you agree to that as a seller?)

While you might be able to find an alternate route, other than selling your house first, it’s unlikely. And in many cases, it makes you a less than desirable buyer…which limits your options, and ability to negotiate a good deal.

So many people lose out on the house of their dreams, because they search and find it before they are in position to do anything about it. It’s a recipe for wasted time, aggravation, disappointment, and heartache.

So, what should you do?

First, you should assess what your options are as early on as possible.

Call me, I will connect you with a mortgage lender and we can look at what is realistic for you.  If you discover that you have options beyond having to sell your place first, awesome!

But if not, don’t feel like you are the only person on earth to ever be put in this position. You have a lot of company.  That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, of course.

What will make it easier for you, and set you apart from everyone else in the same position, is understanding how critical it is to sell your home first. 

There are lots of options available to you to avoid a crunch, from short term renting after the sale, to putting your “stuff” in storage and staying with family, or negotiating time with the buyer of your home to allow you to “secure suitable housing”.  Does any of that sound fun?  No, but the short term “pain” is in many cases worth the long term “gain” of getting the right house for you at the price you want.

What works for you?  We won’t know until we look at all of the options and what your goals are.  Having a solid plan and approach to time the sale of your home, and the purchase of the next, makes all the difference in the world. (Which I can help you come up with!)

Now is your chance, if you want to take advantage of the Seller’s Market in Lancaster County, call me at 717-371-0557!

As always, I’d like you to be part of the conversation, so if you like what you read here please feel free to let me know, forward this post to your friends and subscribe!

If you have questions, need real estate advice or want to buy or sell a home, you can call or text me at 717-371-0557, email me at Jason@JasonsHomes.com or contact me at the office at 717-291-1041!

Jason Burkholder