The Pitfalls of Buying and Selling At The Same Time

A picture of a 1960s ranch home… and the promise of a debt-free(ish) life. That’s what did me in this past summer. 

Thumbing through Facebook one lazy Saturday afternoon, I came across a listing for a 1960s ranch in a neighborhood very close to our current home. I idly clicked the link and started leafing through photos. And then I felt it: an unexpected pang. We’d left a similar ranch home—one that we loved—when we’d relocated to a new city two years earlier. And now, here I was living in a 1930s bungalow, pining for a ranch. Silly.  

But then saw the list price. And my brain started whirling. 

This ranch, that I’d instantly fallen for, was affordable.  

Now, what had seemed like a fun way to pass a little bit of time on a Saturday afternoon became a full-blown obsession: I wanted to sell our current house, in an exceptionally desirable area of town, and move two neighborhoods over, to a neighborhood that felt a little more like home to us.  

But would it work? And would I be able to sell my husband on this idea, since we’d moved less than two years ago? 

The answer to both was yes. But one was significantly more challenging than the other… 

I thought talking my husband into another move would be a Herculean task. Nope. Easy as pie. The logistics of selling one house while buying another… now that would prove to be more difficult. 

7 Reason Buying and Selling AT THE SAME TIME Is Hard (Really Hard) 

1) In order to know for sure where you want to move, you need to look at a lot of houses. Fun! But it is not fun if you fall for a house you can’t buy because you haven’t sold your house yet. This happened to us. More than once. 

2) Until you sell your house, it’s hard to know exactly how much you can afford to mortgage. How much money will you have to put down? Well, that might be a mystery, depending on how much you walk away from the sale with.  

3) What you’re getting for your house may fluctuate. Oh, not technically. Your buyer will likely stick to their offer once you’ve negotiated. But then you’ve got to make it through the inspection. We got asking price for our house but lost $4K after the inspection to mold remediation and a small electrical repair. We would’ve lost more if we didn’t have a stellar realtor. 

4) Buying a house on a contingency is a nail-biting experience. When you love a house enough to make an offer on it, and that offer is accepted, you immediately start envisioning your family there. Or at least I did. Which made it gut-wrenching when small glitches would occur with the house we were selling. Would we lose that contract and then lose the house we wanted to buy? 

5) The move out/move in timeline can be tricky. Because we’d moved just two years earlier, we really didn’t want to make a pitstop in a rental before we moved in our new house. This weighed heavily on us while we chose a property. How long would potential renovations take? Should we buy something move-in ready? Would we be able to find a short-term rental in a market that’s already stretched thin? None of this would have been a big deal if we knew FOR SURE that we needed to find a rental. But we didn’t. So we had to plan for multiple contingencies.  

6) Closing on both houses on the same day is stressful. And hectic. And it still didn’t stop me from having to pay movers to store all our stuff overnight, so the buyers could do the walkthrough for the house we sold first thing the morning of closing.  

7) We couldn’t do anything to our new house (including buying a refrigerator or installing a fence for the dog) until we closed on our old house. Even if our mortgage broker would’ve allowed it (he wouldn’t) we’d spent all our available cash on getting the old house ready to list & show. Stressful financial times, for sure.  

8) Three days of non-stop cleaning and moving will wear down even the heartiest souls. By the time the movers brought in the last of our furniture to our brand-new house, I was so wiped out that I couldn’t even face the boxes. Our day had begun at 6:00 am and by 4:30pm (after two closings and the delivery of ALL our stuff—why do we have so much stuff???) we were completely zombified. So, we took ourselves out for a Moving Celebration Dinner instead. 

Buying in our new neighborhood was 100% the right choice for us. We paid a lot of our debt down. We lucked into some great new neighbors. And we’ve already begun to plant roots here. So, I don’t regret a bit of it. 

But I’m also glad I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to buy and sell at the same time. I might have chickened out.  

Photo by Jacalyn Beales on Unsplash

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