Should you buy or sell first?

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Embarking on the property journey, a conundrum often arises that leaves even the most seasoned investors in contemplation: Is it wiser to purchase one's next home prior to parting with the current one, or should the scales tip the other way?

17 October 2023

This dilemma, while seemingly simple, is entwined with considerations spanning market nuances and personal thresholds.

“Should you buy or sell first? The good news is neither is right or wrong. It essentially boils down to your personal comfort and priority: Do you seek the assurance of knowing your next residence, or would you prefer clarity on your investment amount? It's vital to approach the situation with an open mindset and lean on the expertise of a trusted real estate agent to guide you through your unique circumstances. Additionally, always take a moment to analyse the markets you're buying into and selling out of. Recognising the trends within these markets can profoundly impact your broader goals and decisions.”

The Case for Buying First

  • Browsing at Leisure: One of the undeniable luxuries of purchasing first is the absence of time constraints. Buyers can peruse the market at their leisure, waiting for that quintessential property that aligns with their aspirations, ensuring decisions stem from reflection rather than urgency.
  • Seamless Transition: For those wary of interim accommodations or the logistical issue of storage, buying first provides a seamless transition. Once the new property is secured, you can move directly from your old residence to the new, circumventing the inconvenience of temporary arrangements.
  • Anticipating Market Fluctuations: If the market is on an upward trajectory, buying first might shield you from escalating prices. Locking in a purchase price today could potentially save money if prices rise in the intervening period before you sell.

The Case for Selling First

  • Financial Precision: By selling first, you gain an exact understanding of your monetary standing. The proceeds from your sale set a clear purchasing budget, ensuring you navigate your next buy with confidence and without the risk of overreach.
  • Negotiating Power: With your property already sold, you’re in a more formidable position to negotiate. Sellers are often more inclined to favour buyers who present fewer fiscal contingencies, thus potentially making your offer more attractive.
  • Avoiding Dual Ownership Costs: The financial strain of maintaining two properties, even momentarily, can be onerous. By selling first, you sidestep the dual burdens of mortgages, utilities, and maintenance. This can be especially critical in an unpredictable market.

Striking a Balance

While the above points delineate the advantages of each approach, it’s essential to remember that real estate, at its core, is profoundly personal. Beyond market analytics, it’s about the lives unfolding within those walls. As such, the decision should ultimately hinge on individual comfort and circumstances.

For some, the idea of selling without a subsequent purchase lined up might be daunting, navigating the fine line of unpredictability. For others, the financial clarity that comes from selling first offers a clear roadmap in the complex landscape of property exchanges.

It’s also worth noting that certain market conditions naturally favour one approach over the other. In a seller’s market, where demand outpaces supply, selling first might be more strategic. Conversely, in a buyer’s market, where inventory abounds, securing a purchase first might be astute.

Ultimately, the answer to this question requires reflection, advice from real estate experts, and a dash of intuition. Consider your comfort with risk and, crucially, envision your desired living situation. Your answer will become clear as you weigh these various considerations, ensuring a decision that aligns best with your unique needs and aspirations.