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Buy first or Sell first?

The question of whether to buy first or sell first is one of the most complex questions REALTORS® face from clients. Especially in such fast moving markets as we’re seeing right now, not only is this a complicated question, but also one that get’s brushed over with quick answers that aren’t as thoughtful as they ought to be.

As a REALTOR® my role is not to answer this question and make it easy, but to make sure my clients have the most accurate and pertinent information so that they can make their own decision. The answer on whether to buy first or sell first can often seem obvious, but the market can change in an instant, and when it does, this decision has extremely serious outcomes.

Often clients will bring up this question, and often they will be holding assumptions about what they ought to do. It’s important to open up this conversation early and address any assumptions .

Once we are in the conversation, I explain the benefits and risk of each option.


  • If you buy first, you’ll know exactly where you are going; you’ll be able to choose the house you really want, in the neighborhood you really want. The flip-side is that there is always a risk that you may end up owning two homes, or you may end up selling for less than you had expected since we can’t control the market.
  • If you sell first, you’ll know exactly how much money you have to buy a new The risk is that the ideal home may not be on the market when you are ready to buy and you may have to settle for a less than ideal home or you may have to rent a property until something comes up for sale that you really love.

I can ask my clients which option makes more sense to them, and ask what their concerns are about that option. I  can give them an objective knowledge of the market conditions, and articulate the uncertainties I see in the market. Then if they still don’t feel solid in a decision, I can use my expertise to help them get more information and resources.

It needs to be their decision. My role as a REALTOR® is to ensure that it is ( I also look for others who are influencing their decision), get them as much information as they need, and create the environment where they have the space to make a good decision.