How to Upgrade to a New Home in a New City
Dear Monty: We have concerns about selling our first home and buying our second. We had a horrendous experience buying our first home. I know you hear that often, but our friends and colleagues are in disbelief when they hear the story. We want to avoid a repeat experience. We would like you to give us feedback on a few questions.
No. 1: We are looking to sell next summer. How soon should we start looking to work with an agent?
No. 2: We may be required to do repair work and want to get ahead of any work we need to do to sell. The area around our current home is deteriorating, and we want to be realistic about which repairs will be worthwhile. We have a good idea of what these may be already. Is asking the agent what improvements or repairs we should do before listing OK?
No. 3: We are still deciding where we want to live. We like several areas, but they are between an hour to five-hour drive. One area is in a different state. Is this going to cause an issue with finding an agent to work with?
Monty's Answer: There is no reason to have a repeat experience or a new poor experience. You are not alone with your first experience. It is common for first-time home buyers or sellers to have a poor experience. It also happens to home sellers and buyers who are inexperienced. The two principal causes of these poor experiences are when the customer trusts someone they should not or the customer does not learn how to buy or sell their most significant investment. In these transactions gone sour, the customers themselves share the blame.
Question No. 1: There are better uses of your time than to start looking for an agent. First, most homes for sale now will not be for sale when you wish to buy. Additionally, next summer's real estate market may be very different than it is today.
Question No. 2: A real estate agent is not qualified to inspect a home. Most inspectors do presale inspections to find defects and ordinary repair or replacement components. Find the inspector independent of help from an agent. A good agent can review the inspection and recommend what to fix and what not to fix. Consider interviewing three agents who will have different recommendations and values. Here is a link to a Dear Monty article to help you find a good home inspector.
Question No. 3: Your first step is deciding which areas you will live in. In the next several months, do online research about each city. As you get closer, visit each city and attend at least one open house. There, you will meet agents and observe how they engage with customers. You can focus on that market as soon as you decide on the city. If the city you settle on is a buyer's market, you may be able to negotiate a subject to sale of your current home. It would help if you also lined up your financing a month or two before you put your home up for sale. You will need a pre-approval letter in the new city. Here is a link to a PropBox article about selling your current home that will be helpful.
Richard Montgomery is the Founder of PropBox, the first advertising platform to bring home sellers and buyers directly together to negotiate and close the sale online. He offers readers solution choices for their real estate questions. Follow him on Twitter(X) @rmpropbox or DearMonty.com.
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