How to Buy a Home in One Market While Selling in Another

Someone being transferred for work or making a major move for personal reasons may end up selling in one market and buying in another. The ideal scenario would be to sell in a sellers’ market, like the San Francisco Bay area or Seattle, and buy in a buyers’ market, such as Providence, RI. The worst-case scenario is to do the opposite.

Here are some tips for buyers and sellers in any market.

Know before you go

The days of a national estate market are gone. Today, markets vary by state, town, city and even block by block. But most people don’t realize this. So it’s important to start by researching the hyper-local market of the town or neighborhood that interests you. Read local blogs. Watch the number of days a home is on the market. Understand the sale price to list price ratio in the town where you’re buying. Upfront research can save you a lot of time and headaches. Plus, you don’t want to rely entirely on your real estate agent to tell you about that market. Get informed on your own.

How to sell in a buyers’ market

Selling your home in a buyers’ market can subject you to a harsh reality. Your market could be slow due to a high level of inventory, low demand from buyers or simply slow economic times.

If you need to sell in a buyers’ market, put your best foot forward from the start. Make sure your home is priced to sell. You may not have the luxury of waiting for six months to test the market. Homes will sell, no matter the market, when priced right.

Spend days or weeks removing junk and prepping your home for the market. You’ll have to pack up when you move anyhow, so it makes sense to start packing before you even list your home. Not only will it save time later, but it will help thin out the house, make more space available and help the home show better during open houses. Strongly consider any suggestions your agent makes for slight cosmetic fixes or staging.

How to buy in a buyers’ market

Who doesn’t love being a buyer in a buyers’ market? You have lots to choose from and the full attention of sellers.

Take your time to see as many homes as possible to get the lay of the land. Focus on the most motivated sellers, as this is where you may uncover the best values. If a handful of homes meet your needs, ask questions such as: Why is the seller selling? What is the seller’s time frame for moving? How long has the seller lived in the home? You can ask these questions through your agent or by asking the seller’s agent directly.

The more you ask, the more you may uncover just who is the most motivated seller. Be open to taking on some renovation work, because that can add value to the property. The market will eventually turn, and there’s no better feeling than knowing that you bought low, with some bonus equity.

How to sell in a sellers’ market

Along the West Coast, sellers are being overwhelmed with buyers at open houses and private showings. Demand is high, and things are moving quickly. But you still have to work at selling. If you don’t clean the home or present it to the market in its best possible light, you may leave money on the table for the buyer who is desperate for a “deal.”

If you have the luxury of receiving multiple offers, focus on the best buyer and the best terms and not so much on the bottom line. You want the buyer who is going to close. The last thing you want is to have to go back on the market. When this happens, everyone will wonder what’s wrong with your home.

It could be that the buyer got cold feet or remorse. If you aren’t sure who is the best buyer, ask your agent. The best buyer is the one who has seen the home multiple times, is pre-approved for a loan, has been in the market and has even lost out on recent home sales. This buyer is working with a local agent and committed to buying. Your agent will know who they are.

How to buy in a sellers’ market

Buyers in a sellers’ market find themselves frustrated over a lack of inventory and homes that sell quickly. The competition is fierce, and they need to invest a good part of their time on buying a home.

For a serious buyer, then, finding a home becomes a part-time job. Have your ducks in a row and your team in place. Work closely with a good local agent and a local mortgage pro. When a home hits the market, get in ASAP. Don’t wait for the open house, because a more aggressive buyer might get in and take it away before you do.

When competing with other buyers, have your inspections and do as much due diligence as you can before making an offer. An offer with swift, few or no contingencies is music to the sellers’ ear. They want to be sure the deal will close for the most money as quickly as possible. Find out what the sellers want and give it to them.

Reducing the stress of buying and selling

Today’s younger buyers and sellers, enabled by the global economy and the Internet, can live anywhere and move around multiple times in a short period of time. For them, as well as everyone else, understanding that all real estate markets are different, requiring different approaches, is always the first step toward success.

After that, it’s important to plan well in advance. Buying and selling real estate can be extremely stressful. Approaching each transaction methodically, and with as much advance planning as possible, can help relieve some of that stress.

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Brendon DeSimone is the author of "Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling," the go-to insider’s guide for navigating and better understanding the complex and ever-evolving world of buying and selling a home. DeSimone is the founder and principal of DeSimone & Co, an independent NYC real estatebrokerage providing individualized services and a fresh, hands-on approach. Bringing more than a decade of residential real estate experience, DeSimone is a recognized national real estate expert and has appeared on top media outlets including CNBC, Good Morning America, HGTV, FOX News, Bloomberg and FOX Business. Consumers often call on Brendon for advice and to help them find a real estate agent. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.