Question: I want to sell my current San Francisco home and buy another one either here in SF or in another area. How does this work? What is a good time line for buying and selling? Is there a way to time it so I am not “in-between” homes? How do I know how much I can afford in my next home?

Answer: Whether you want to sell your home right away or just sometime in the next year, there are some simple things which, when done ahead of time, will increase your chances of getting the highest return on your investment.

Here are the 5 main steps involved in selling a home and buying a new one.

  1. Consult with and choose a Realtor. Obviously, we’d like you to work with us but whatever you do, please choose substance over flash. Talk to past clients. Pay attention to the agent’s consultation skills. Do they take the time to ask you deeper questions and figure out what’s most important to you? Are they telling you what you want to hear or are they telling you the truth? (This is not always the same, especially now.) Do they seem more like an intelligent consultant or a snazzy salesperson? Yes, you want a strong salesperson negotiating to get you the highest sales price but in real estate sales, the flashiest is not always the most clever.
  2. After you and your Realtor have decided to work together, you’ll discuss house preparations & staging.
    1. The ideal scenario to achieve the highest sales price in the least amount of time is for you to move out of the home and have it professionally staged.
    2. However, not everyone can make this work. Just because you plan to live in the home during marketing does not mean you’re off the hook regarding staging! All homes should be properly presented for sale. A good Realtor will go through the home with you and make suggestions as to which improvements make economic sense for resale and which do not. Have this conversation early so you’re prepared when it comes time to list your home for sale. We create a strategic action plan for our seller clients and try to make the process both successful and enjoyable. The best way to start is with an organized plan. No rushing, no stressing! 🙂
  3. Determine an approximate and realistic market value for your home. Armed with a realistic sense of what your current home is worth, you can talk to a reliable mortgage broker about what you’ll be able to afford in the next home. (Note: We’ll give you an estimated list price so you can make plans but the exact list price will be determined just before your listing goes on the MLS. It needs to reflect the most current market data and competing listings.)
  4. Preview the market for the home you want to buy. Based on what you’ll be able to afford, you can poke around the MLS online and at open houses to determine if what you’re looking for is out there. You do not need to find the perfect home, just homes that are close enough so you see it is possible to get what you want for what you can afford.
  5. At this point, we’ll want to put your home on the market and you’ll begin seriously looking for your next home.
    1. Making an offer on a new home, contingent on the sale of your current home will put you at a competitive disadvantage. Buyers with contingencies on the sale of a home do not get the best deal.
    2. However, selling your home contingent on the purchase of a new one (through a longer escrow or rent-back period after the close of escrow) will solve the problem of being in-between homes should you not find the best new home for you right away.
  6. This may sound complicated but it’s not! We know how to guide clients who want to sell their current home and move into a new one, whether they want to sell a Bernal Heights Victorian or a Mission Dolores condo. No matter what your situation, there is a strategic, focused way to accomplish your goals.

Contact us with any questions on the process of trading up or selling a home and buying a new one in San Francisco.

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Want to sell or buy a home outside of the SF Bay Area? We have awesome Realtor contacts throughout the United States.

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