Chicken or the egg?

Do I Buy a New Home or Sell My Current One First?

I have been asked this question every week…for the past 1032 weeks. Often more than once per week. This may be the most frequently asked question we encounter, besides “How are the rates?”

Over coffee one recent morning, a client thanked me for the guidance I gave to his Mother-In-Law the month before. He told me everything was unfolding perfectly on her journey. This perfectness follows a series of mistakes and tragedies spanning the prior decade related to the last sale and purchase. How and why did it get so out of hand? Answer: Other Peoples’ Motives.

The answer to the Title Question above will be different for almost everyone. Yet the solution is at the center of a ball of yarn that resolves around “Preserving Your Options” which is an immensely valuable position to be in, or command from. The second valuable position is to not forget this is YOUR project. And the motives of others should not penetrate your rational decisions. Often someone with a commission at stake puts his or her nose in your business and tries to persuade you to do the “correct thing to do” (for them).

In most cases, consumers won’t understand they’re being “led” although they may feel some pressure or urgency which is a legit Red Flag.

The guidance we donate daily rolls in this format:

Start by defining the Mission and its timeline.

Why are you moving? 
Knowing the answer to this question provides huge fuel for everyone involved in the project.
Is there a deadline?
If so, the earlier you start planning the better off you will be and the more options you will preserve. You cannot start to plan too early.

Let’s access the Marketplace and its competitiveness

Real Estate is hot. Or is it?
You can get varying opinions from two experts….on the same day.  A project in Berkshire County has a different cadence than a home sale in Somerville. Based on your inbound and outbound market (which may be different you’ll agree, right?) you’ll be able to access different rules of engagement.

You build a plan. We help with the architecture.

When a swinging Tarzan catches a vine, you can’t see it but there’s someone off-camera holding that vine in place for him. For a homeowner to know where the largest spans over water are would be next to impossible. We’ve done more difficult things than measure, cut, safely tie off, and hold in place a few vines for our clients who are getting ready to navigate a real estate jungle. You’ll also want someone to tell you that the vine you labeled as a backup Bridge Loan was cut with a machete back in 2010.

The plan must be critiqued for its pragmatics.

Seek out someone from outside your household, with a few thousand transactions under their belt, who you trust to not “sell to you.” They should provide you with some quality control on your mission. Someone you feel OK sharing your full dream with. And someone capable of unrolling the blueprint of your mission and suggesting changes to its structural integrity.
If you need a signed P&S to enroll in a school then that’s placed high in priority, but it doesn’t mean that the four-bedroom colonial with a fireplace, natural gas, not on septic will come available at the price determined by the equity you have coming from your last home.

Your time is perishable.

Wild estimate here but a house-to-house move is in excess of 400 man-hours. Some hours can be delegated (pay a painter to touch up) and others cannot (who buys a house sight unseen?). Many processes include recurring events such as vacating (dogs too) for multiple open houses + showings or going through the emotional high/low of submitting an offer only to have it rejected.
Are you entering into the Spring Market, which we best describe as Highway Traffic? Metaphorically speaking it would best to have new spark plugs installed. And the Master’s Degree you’re pursuing at the same time? Please decide which project is going to be deferred so that your blood pressure stays within a safe range.

Pursue a Custom solution, not a one-size-fits-all recommendation.

Some moves are URGENT (new job, school enrollment, toxic neighbors, apartment being sold or turned into a condo) and some moves are not on a timeline (“I’d like to downsize”, “we’re empty nesters”, “I’d like to retire to the ocean”). Some moves are motivated (3rd child on her way, traffic is a daily grind) and some are reluctant (we can’t afford the taxes, or the marriage has failed). Each “way” has a distinct strategy.

In 2019 and then continuing during COVID if you approached the plate to buy a new home with a house to sell you were shamed. As the COVID era finished and the tidal surge of emotionally buying real estate began to subside, we could at least ask for a sale contingency … without being flogged. Now post-COVID and into 2024 it’s time for the buyer to take back control of the process. To demand that all the players on the team step up their level of professionalism and licensure. Value and true service of a professional team require the preservation of the rights of the customer who is employing us.