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James Long
James Long

How To Sell House And Buy Another

Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest financial decisions an individual will ever make. Our real estate reporters and editors focus on educating consumers about this life-changing transaction and how to navigate the complex and ever-changing housing market. From finding an agent to closing and beyond, our goal is to help you feel confident that you're making the best, and smartest, real estate deal possible.

how to sell house and buy another


In a perfect world, your next house would be ready and waiting as soon as you turn over the keys to your previous one. But of course, the world is not perfect, and the timing between selling one home and buying the next does not always line up the way you want it to. Take heart, though, because a little planning and working with a savvy real estate agent can help make both transactions run more smoothly.

Of course you want to get the best possible price on the sale of your home, and not to overpay for the next one. But consider the timing of the closing process as well when negotiating both deals. The closing date can be one of the most important details when negotiating a sale. The goal is to get both the buyer of your current home and the seller of your next home to agree to adjacent closings or any necessary contingencies. You can even arrange for back-to-back escrow, in which the proceeds from the sale go directly to the purchase of the new property.

Considering selling your house and using the profits to buy a new home? If you have the opportunity to sell first and buy later, you can eliminate several complications sellers face when buying and selling simultaneously.

Garrett Callahan is a freelance writer who writes on the ins-and-outs of buying the perfect home. For over six years, he has written extensively on travel, history, and culture, and he spent the past two years researching the home-buying process as a first-time homeowner. Based in Massachusetts, he is an admirer of historic homes and loves an old house with a good story.

Before putting your house on the market or committing to buying a new one, investigate the prices of houses in the areas where you'll be both selling and buying. In order to figure out how to sell high and buy low, you'll need a realistic idea of how much comparable houses are going for.

Also focus on whether the local real estate market is "hot" (favors sellers) or "cold" (favors buyers). Since you're both a buyer and a seller, you'll need to protect yourself in your weaker role while making the most of your stronger role.

When the market is cold, you're in a stronger position as a buyer than as a seller. You've got your pick of lots of houses for sale, at reasonable prices. But you might have trouble selling yours. To protect yourself, you might start by buying a second house, but then asking the seller to make your purchase contract contingent upon your selling your current home. A seller having a hard time finding a buyer is likely to accept this contingency, even though it means waiting for you to find a buyer. Be ready to give the seller plausible reasons why your home will likely sell quickly.

In case no seller is willing to accept this contingency, however, at least make sure you can arrange financing. Talk to a mortgage broker about what you'll qualify for. Then be ready to act quickly to put your first home on the market after going ahead with buying a second one. There's a lot you can do ahead of time -- taking care of maintenance issues, going through files for the appliance manuals and other documents you'll give the buyer, choosing a real estate agent and possibly a home stager, and so forth.

If you can't swing such an arrangement, however, you can negotiate with your house's buyer to have the sale contract include a provision making the closing contingent on your finding and closing on a new house. Although few buyers will agree to an open-ended period, some will be so eager to buy your house that they'll agree to delay the closing until you close on a new house or until a certain number of days pass, whichever comes first. Also be sure to fully research the market before you sell, so that you'll be an efficient buyer, who is able to offer the right price on attractive terms.

What if you're unable to perfectly dovetail the sale of one house with the purchase of another? You could own no houses for a time, in which case you'll have money in the bank and will need a temporary place to live. Or you could own two houses at once. The following suggestions should help you deal with such juggling acts:

Point out that you need help for only a short period, and offer a competitive interest rate. Give the person making the loan a promissory note, secured by a second mortgage (deed of trust) on your new house. Try to arrange it so that no monthly payments are due until your first house sells. Be warned, however, that depending on your financial situation, institutional mortgage lenders may refuse to approve a loan where the down payment doesn't come from your own resources.

If you have no other choice, it may be possible to borrow money from a bank or other lender to bridge the period between when you close on your new house and when you get your money from the sale of your old one. This idea is that you take out a short-term loan on your existing house, using it toward the down payment and closing costs on your new house, and repaying it when your first house sells.

The second tax break is called a Section 1031 (also called like-kind exchange), which allows taxpayers to defer paying capital gains tax on an investment property sale by using the proceeds to buy another similar property.

You should note that taxable capital gains only apply to the amount made on a sale. This means that you first deduct the price you paid for the house, then you remove any tax-deductible improvements or expenses. Then, you deduct the home sale exclusion. Whatever is left is the amount which you owe taxes on.

Generally, when sellers make this type of exchange, they are not required to recognize a gain or loss under Internal Revenue Code Section 1031. This means that if you own business property, the IRS allows you to sell one property and use the proceeds to buy another without having to pay taxes on the transaction.

You do not need to make a direct swap in a like-kind exchange. Instead, once you sell your first investment property you can put the proceeds from this sale into escrow. You then have 180 days to find and purchase another similarly situated piece of land. This new purchase must also generate income through rentals or other use, and it must also be exclusively for business purposes.

You can avoid a significant portion of capital gains taxes through the home sale exclusion, a large tax break that the IRS offers to people who sell their homes. People who own investment property can defer their capital gains by rolling the sale of one property into another. This like-kind exchange does not apply to personal residences however.

Your agent can help you find properties that meet your criteria, negotiate with sellers on your behalf, and move forward with the purchase once you find the perfect home. An experienced agent can also work with your preferred timeline.

These companies allow you to use your home equity as a down payment, rather than cash in hand. You can start shopping for a new house before you list your current residence as long as you have enough equity in your current home to cover the necessary down payment.

In this case, work with your realtor to close on your listed home as quickly as possible so you can pay off the loan balance and focus exclusively on your new mortgage payments. A real estate agent can help you price competitively to sell fast and seek cash offers that close quicker.

Cash-out refinancing lets you access the equity in your home and get cash at closing, which can be used as a down payment on a new house. The existing home mortgage and any liens on the property are paid off and replaced with a new mortgage.

If rental demand is high, you may be able to turn a profit or, at the very least, offset the expense of the first mortgage by renting your house. Carefully interview potential tenants and do a background check. Sign a lease with the new tenant that includes provisions for breaking the lease in the event that you need to sell the property.

Many homebuyers face this two-step transaction, whether they are relocating for a new job, upgrading to a new home or downsizing in retirement. Last year, 89% of repeat buyers sold or planned to sell their previous home, according to the National Association of Realtors.

If you plan on buying another house, you have options that may reduce or eliminate your capital gains tax liability depending on whether the property is for personal use or if you plan to reinvest those funds into an investment property using a like-kind 1031 exchange. Here are some guidelines on when you might be liable to pay capital gains tax and when you may qualify for an exemption.

What if the home is not a primary residence and instead you had placed it in service as a rental to make passive income? You likely will generate a taxable event if you sell the property for more than your original investment basis, but there may be a way to defer any capital gains on the sale of an investment property.

Ask your real estate agent: Is the market weighted toward buyers or sellers? Only then will you be able to fully strategize. In real estate, your best plan of action may depending on whether sellers or buyers are in the more powerful position.

First, work with an experienced real estate agent who can help you understand the challenges and benefits of buying and selling a home in your current market. A good place to start with your agent is having a discussion on current real estate trends so you have a grasp on how much your home will sell for and how much you can expect to pay for a new home. 041b061a72