The Boston area real estate market has probably changed quite a bit since the last time you were part of a home sale closing, if ever. Not only has the housing market changed dramatically in recent years, but so have mortgage lending requirements. In addition, as a homeowner your needs and desires for your next home have probably changed, too. So, if you’re looking to move up or move out of your present home you’re likely in the middle of a well-known dilemma: Should you sell your current home first or buy your new one? Let’s take a closer look at that situation and consider a few ideas.
Boston Area Real Estate – Making the Right Move
A logical place to start to analyze the problem of whether to sell first or buy first is to examine just how much risk you’re willing to take. If you fancy yourself a veritable Las Vegas gambler that goes “all-in” every chance he gets, you may decide to assume a greater risk than some people. So, if you elected to buy your new home before you sold your existing home, the possibility of having two house payments at the same time may be less stressful for you than for others. Conversely, if you felt that situation would lead to sleepless nights you’d probably be more comfortable – and well rested – by taking a more conservative approach. That will entail selling your current home first before you started your new home search.
In addition to your risk tolerance, there are some other factors that could potentially sway your decision. Because Boston area real estate prices have risen while housing inventory from which to choose continues to be thin, it’s possible you could sell your existing home but not be lucky enough to find a new home immediately. What could make matters worse is, if the added stress and pressure to rush to find a new house led you to settle for something less desirable than you wanted.
Boston area real estate experts suggest you ask yourself these important questions to more fully understand the timing of your current home’s sale and your next purchase.
Can you afford two mortgage loans at the same time?
Carefully examine your income and obligations to determine, are you able to comfortably afford two mortgage payments at the same time? If the honest answer is “no,” then do yourself a favor and sell your current home first. A mortgage lender will ask the same question and perform the same financial analysis. Remember, just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you should.
Some lending institutions offer bridge loans – short-term loans designed to allow flexibility between selling one home and buying another. The normal term is six months to a year.
Another consideration is where your down payment will come from. Do you have enough money in a savings or investment account you plan to liquidate? If not, are you planning to use the equity in your existing home? While some lenders may be willing to provide you with a 100% conventional loan – enabling you to buy the new home without first selling your current one – some lenders may not.
How soon do you want or need to move?
Often the biggest deciding factor of what to do first in the selling-then-buying versus the buying-then-selling conundrum is how quickly they want or need to make the move. If you’ve taken a new job that requires you to relocate out of state, it may be best to put your home on the market first. That way, as you make plans to move and begin your new home search if your home sells it will make your relocation easier and less stressful. However, if you’re simply shopping for a larger home or want to move into a nicer neighborhood it could be better to not sell your home immediately. Wait until you find a new one that best fits your needs. This is where the advice of an experienced Boston area real estate agent can be invaluable.
Are you aware of the newest regulations?
If it’s been awhile since you’ve bought a new home with a mortgage, you’ll need to be aware of some new federal regulations that took affect late last year. The TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rules now require mortgage lenders to give new borrowers two forms – one at the beginning of the loan application process, and one upon loan approval. The importance of these forms is this: The Closing Disclosure form must be given to the borrower no less than three days before the loan closing. You can no longer expect to close on the sale of your existing home one day and close on the new home purchase the next.
The Closing Disclosure requires the lender to have all the integral parts of the mortgage loan finalized and approved prior to the three-day period. The result often means selling one home and buying the next can be a little “iffy.” Closing delays are a likely possibility. Know what to expect and rely on the advice of your mortgage lender and Boston area real estate agent. It can help make the process flow smoother, without snags or delays.
Do you need a negotiating advantage?
Some experts say that purchasing your next home before selling your existing one has distinct benefits. Make an offer to purchase a home without the often-used contingency on the sale of your current home. It will likely be considered more favorably by most sellers. So, if you can swing both loan payments or can get a bridge loan or other financing, go for it!
Do you have somewhere to move while you wait to buy a new house?
As we’ve discussed, a tight housing market with low inventory gives you little from which to choose. As a result, you could find yourself without a home if you sell prior to buying something else. Before making a move requiring you to find a new home quickly or renting a place, think it through. Don’t panic or rush into buying a home you don’t really want. Take your time and make a plan. Remember, too, that it’s okay to rent while you’re looking to buy something new. Be aware that most rentals require at least a six-month lease – and many require a year.
You can find more articles pertaining to Boston area real estate in several categories below Boston area Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.