Two moves may be better than one

This is my final post of a three-part series for Cambridge / Somerville homeowners who want to sell their homes and buy new ones, but aren’t sure how to best manage the process. I’ve already posted on:


Strategy #1: Sell, but stay in your current home while you search for a new one

Strategy #2: Buy first, then sell


Today, I am going to tell you about an option that many people consider, and can make a lot of sense…

While no one’s really crazy about the idea of having to move twice in a relatively short period, selling your home and moving into a rental gives you a lot of flexibility and can sometimes help you meet an immediate need. I personally chose this approach when I put my condo on the market back in November.


My boyfriend and I wanted to live together, but neither of our respective places would’ve really worked for us. We knew we needed more space, and wanted a single family home. We also both have very specific ideas about the neighborhoods we like and the type of home we want, and given the inventory shortage here in Cambridgeville, we knew it would take a while to find the right place. So rather than putting off moving in together, I bit the bullet and sold my condo, and we’re now renting a great townhouse in Inman while we search for the home we want to buy.


My friends Andrea and Chris also went the sell-rent-buy route because, as Andrea explained, “We’d looked for over a year *before* putting our house on the market and had seen only two acceptable houses in that period, so we knew selling and renting back [from our buyers] would put us under too much pressure.”


So they sold their first home (btw, making some clients of mine who bought it very happy indeed!), put most of their belongings in storage and moved into a furnished short-term rental. While this allowed them to take all the time they needed finding a new home, it was not without its challenges. Inventory remained low, and after several months of house-hunting with no good prospects in sight, stress levels were high and they even entertained the idea of moving to the north shore.


Fortunately, they ultimately DID find a great place here in Somerville, where they are now happily settled. All told, between finding the home and completing renovations prior to moving in, Andrea and Chris spent ten months in their “short-term” rental. Andrea told me, “If I’d known it was going to be that long, I’d have rented an unfurnished place for a year and at least have had more of the comforts of home to make the transition period a bit easier. And probably saved a little money on storage too.”


Keep in mind that if you do sign a year lease then get lucky and find your new home quickly, you may be obligated to continue paying rent through the end of your lease, which is no fun once you’ve started making mortgage payments. It is possible to get shorter-term leases (especially if you are renting off-cycle, like in the middle of winter, when you have more leverage), so make sure you ask about your options. And just remember, sometimes it’s worth a taking a short term financial hit for the longer-term benefit of securing your dream home.


Final thoughts


When I reached out to people for their input on this article, I asked if they had any general words of advice for those about to embark on a home sale and purchase. While I heard everything from “Put yourself in the best possible financial position” to “Have a solid relationship that can withstand the emotional ups and downs,” having a good realtor was top of the list.


Andrea specifically recommended finding an agent who will “be innovative in helping you search/find/get your dream home, give you good advice when you need it (e.g., we dropped a contingency in one negotiation that was irrelevant to us, but made us more competitive with other buyers), and use all of his/her resources and relationships to benefit you.”


My client Jeff, featured in yesterday’s post about buying first, then selling, expanded that sentiment by emphasizing the importance of finding a good team of people to work with. He explained, “If you have a realtor, mortgage broker, lawyer, inspector, etc., who all know each other and have worked together before, that can open up a number of possibilities and will make things feel a bit easier regardless of which approach you take.”


Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this discussion -–Andrea, Mimi, Diana, Jeff, Kristen, Priyanka and Vineet-– I know your insight and advice will benefit many people!


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