5 Steps to Selling a Home & Buying Another in the San Francisco Bay Area

February 3, 2022

Real Estate

Selling and Buying a Bay Area Home Back-to-Back

 
Buying or selling a home in the San Francisco Bay Area can be complicated and stressful enough, but what if you want to sell AND buy a home one after the other or in tandem?
 
As daunting as the task might seem, it is also incredibly common. Many homeowners in the SF Bay Area have substantial portions of their wealth tied up in home equity. In such a scenario, selling your current home may be a prerequisite to buying a new home.
 
Would it surprise you that an experienced San Francisco Bay Area real estate agent can consult and provide options to make the transition from your current home to your next home as seamless as possible?
 
At Vivre Real Estate, our best San Francisco Bay Area Realtors® have decades of experience doing just that. Here’s what a client of ours asked about selling and buying in the San Francisco Bay Area (and beyond), and how we answered.
 

How to Sell Your Current SF Bay Area Home and Buy Another

 
Question: I want to sell my current home in the San Francisco Bay Area and buy another home here or somewhere else. How does that work? What does the timeline typically look like? Can I time it so I am not in-between homes for long (or at all)? How do I know what I can afford in my next home before I sell my current one?
 
Answer: Whether you are looking to sell your home and buy another right away, or planning a move months or a year in advance, there are some simple things you can work on right now to maximize your return on investment and ensure a smooth transition from your current home to your next home.
 
Here are the five main steps involved in selling a home and buying a new one.
 

1. Hire a Realtor®

 
First off, you’ll want to partner up with a great real estate agent who will help you through all the rest of the process of selling and buying. Of course, we would love for you to work with us, but whatever you do, please—please!—choose substance over show.
 
How do you do your research beyond the surface-level presentation of an SF Bay Area Realtor®?
 
Look at agent track records and what they have sold recently. Talk to past clients or read reviews of the agents you interview. Pay very close attention during your consultation. Does the agent take the time to ask meaningful questions and understand what’s important to you? Does it seem like they are telling you what you want to hear, or are they telling you the truth? Do they give you the impression of a flashy salesperson or an intelligent, authentic and trusted advisor?
 
You certainly want an agent with strong sales and negotiating skills to get the highest sales price for your current home and the best deal on your next home. But keep in mind what you are hiring them for: honest counsel and guidance on an extremely important transaction (or two). In real estate, the snazziest salesperson is not always the most sophisticated when it comes to producing results.
 

2. Discuss Home Preparations and Staging

 
Once you have settled on an agent to work with, the next step is to collaborate on a plan to sell your current home.
 
Depending on your timeframe and personal preference, this can involve moving out of the home for staging and other pre-sale improvements, or staying in the home while still making some strategic changes.
 
Option A: Move Out for Pre-Sale Improvements and Staging
 
Our Vivre Real Estate team specializes in identifying and facilitating the best return-on-investment home improvements and repairs, to maximize the likelihood that you net top dollar from your home sale. We provide a robust network of proven, trusted vendors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and we are particularly proud of the results we’ve reached through the years by managing these projects for our clients.
 
When a home seller’s time and budget allow, there are a few things that we very often recommend to make your home stand out and entice prospective buyers. These include home staging and deep cleaning, as well as painting, landscaping, minor cosmetic upgrades and repairs if warranted.
 
When thoughtfully and efficiently implemented, pre-sale home improvements can make a surprisingly large impact on your property’s selling price. For example, one of our recent seller clients invested ~$50k in pre-sale improvements (including staging) to net an estimated ~$200k more from their home sale. Read more about this ~400% ROI example here.
 
Option B: Sell Without Moving Out
 
While we do recommend moving out and staging to get the highest possible sales price from your home sale, there are many ways to successfully sell a home in the Bay Area! To some home sellers, the logistics or up-front costs of moving out simply won’t work. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t make an effort to get your home in great selling shape.
 
To plan your home sale strategy, a good real estate agent will evaluate your property and make suggestions on which improvements make economic sense according to your goals and time constraints. Maybe some minor staging, decluttering, cleaning or painting would still work in your personal situation. Maybe you and your agent agree to test your home off-market before diving into open houses and showings, potentially securing an offer before fully listing and marketing your home.
 
The most important thing is that you discuss all this with an agent whose opinion you trust. Talking about these things early will set you up for greater success and fewer surprises down the road. Whatever strategy works best for you, we want to create an organized plan to make the process both successful and enjoyable. No rushing or stressing!
 

3. Determine a Realistic Estimated Market Value for Your Home

 
In addition to a plan for selling your current home, you will need a ballpark figure for what you can afford in the next home you plan to buy in the San Francisco Bay Area or elsewhere.
 
For real estate agents and appraisers alike, the best tool we have to arrive at a sense of a property’s market value is comparable sales data. We provide you with a CMA (comparative market analysis), incorporating recent sales of properties similar to yours in the area, as well as current market conditions and the unique features of your home, to triangulate a strategic listing price and a potential sale price.
 
To start, we will provide an estimated list price so you can initiate the conversation with a lender if you plan to finance your next home purchase. We will determine the exact listing price just before your listing hits the open market, so that it reflects the most current market data and competing listings.
 

4. Preview Your Target Market For the Home You Want to Buy

 
With a sense of what you will be able to afford, you can start to browse real estate listings in the San Francisco Bay Area or wherever you are headed next.
 
You don’t need to find the perfect home yet. For now, just poke around to get a sense of your options in your target market as it stands today. Open up the real estate property search website or app of your choice, filter by area, property type and price range according to your needs, and see what sort of homes you might want and realistically be able to buy.
 
If you intend to buy locally within the SF Bay Area, this is a great chance to visit some open house events as well. (Open houses are a bit trickier if you’re moving from, say, San Francisco to Honolulu!)
 

5. Put Your Current Home on the Market and Begin Looking Seriously For Your Next Home

 
You’ve set yourself up for success by preparing your current home for sale to maximize your return on investment. You’ve connected with a mortgage broker and previewed what’s on the market in your target destination to get a realistic sense of your options. Now we’ll want to put your current home on the market and begin your new home search in earnest.
 
When your home search lands on a home you love, making an offer contingent on the sale of your current home can help to ease the transition from one home to another. This can be accomplished through a longer escrow, or through a rent-back period after the close of escrow.
 
It’s important to note that offer contingencies do put you at a competitive disadvantage. Buyers with contingencies on the sale of a home do not get the best deal. When the buying market is highly competitive, as it is now, the most competitive offers are often all-cash, non-contingent, with quick escrows. Yet another reason it’s critical to work with an experienced agent who knows how to make your offer more likely to be accepted and negotiate terms that work for your situation!
 
We are with you every step of the way, to maximize your return on your home sale in an efficient and strategic process, and get you into a home you will love.
 

Selling Your Current Home and Buying Another: Our Best San Francisco Bay Area Realtors® Can Help!

 
With over 20 years of experience and ~800 successful transactions in the San Francisco Bay Area real estate market, our team of top local Realtors® has the knowledge and skills to help you reach your goals. As well-regarded, veteran agents, we also have an extensive network of local professionals and top agents in other markets and regions to connect you with great results in your home listing prep and the search for your next home, wherever that may be.
 
If you have any questions that we didn’t cover above, or if you have a different question about the process of buying or selling a home in the San Francisco Bay Area, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to serve. Contact Vivre Real Estate today!
 

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