I see this all the time. Homebuyers fall madly
in love with a house they have just got to, despite
owning another home that they must sell.
They wishfully think they can sell their current
home fast so they can move into the new one within
a few weeks. The problem with this scenario is
even in recent white hot real estate market, houses
may not sell very quickly. I have personally resold
houses very quickly, but they never closed in
less than 5 or 6 weeks. The mortgage application
process takes a while. Why? Bankers like to appear
to make ponderous and careful decisions.
We certainly don’t have quick turnover
in the current real estate market so it’s
really risky to fall in love with a house before
you sell the one you have.
The first and most important barrier to resale
of a home you are emotionally finished with is
the house is probably not in show condition. It
needs to be staged so it looks like a desirable
purchase to a potential buyer. It needs to have
some fresh paint, some major cleaning, small repairs
need attention and stuff needs to be packed and
removed so the house shows well.
Who is going to do all that work? In most modern
households everyone is at work if they can afford
a house at all, much less 2 of them. There is
no one available to do these tasks except some
hired handymen or professional stagers. These
folks don’t work cheap. They have to make
a living, too.
But most homeowners don’t do any more than
a minor cleaning and then start showing their
old house with all the faults they it had. If
you put your house on the market in this condition
you will sacrifice the first and best days your
house is on the market. It will never again attract
the attention you would want. By not fixing the
faults you allow your product to get a bad rep.
Guess what? Potential buyers will see the faults,
too and run the other way. Real estate sales folks
will tell other ones and then you will really
have a problem.
Even transferees are not exempt from the “2
house” problem. Sure the company will buy
your old home for some price, but read the small
print. Only top executives get great transfer
packages. If your old neighborhood has a few foreclosures
your house may sell for less than you hope and
buyers will not be able to get a loan for more
than the appraised value, whatever it is.
It is better to wait until your old house is
at least under contract before you start looking
for another house. I always wait. It’s not
that hard to find another house even in an unfamiliar
city. I have done it many times. Make your contract
to purchase contingent on your old house closing
It is best to remember, there are tons of houses
for sale in most markets. Many of them can make
you very comfortable.
But the best thing is you don’t need go
into a full fledged panic.
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