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The Pros & Cons of Buying Before You Sell

One of the most common questions we are asked is whether it is better to buy or sell first when moving home. In recent years it has become increasingly common for homemovers to focus on getting an offer accepted on their new home before concerning themselves with selling their existing home.

If you’re adopting this approach, your lawyer will submit an offer for a property you’re interested in that is “subject to sale” of your existing home. Should the offer be accepted, you will then need to get your own home onto the market as quickly as possible. In general, the lawyer representing the seller of the property that you are buying will give you a four-week period to get your own home marketed and under offer.

The reason why this strategy has become more popular is straightforward. There is a lack of properties on the market and those that are available are typically selling very quickly. As a result, for many movers the big concern is finding a new property and getting an offer accepted. As it is a strong seller’s market they can be confident that their own property will sell quickly once they have an offer accepted.

Buying first is not without its drawbacks however. The most significant of these is that your offer will be less attractive to the seller of the home you are looking to buy. As a result, in a competitive market you will likely have to make an offer that is higher than would otherwise have been the case to secure your next home. It is not unusual that we will see sellers reject an offer that is ‘subject to sale’ in favour of a chain-free offer, even if that means accepting thousands, or sometimes even tens of thousands, less for their home.

Even once you have an offer accepted you will limit your ability to get the best price for your current home as you will have a limited time to sell. The seller of the home you are buying may also be unwilling to let you accept an offer from someone that is themselves subject to sale, restricting the pool of buyers you can sell to and preventing you from getting the best price for your home.


Should you buy first when moving?

It’s understandable that buying first has become more popular in recent years but it can end up being costly. You’ll find it harder to have an offer accepted, and when you do, you will most likely have had to spend more than if you were chain-free.

Whether it is the right approach for you will depend very much on your own circumstances. If your household is small, you can afford to be somewhat flexible in terms of the property you are looking to buy, or if you are able to move in with friends or family, it will generally make sense to sell first.

If your family is larger, you may have to consider factors like school catchment areas when looking for your next property, and you have accumulated a large amount of furniture and belongings, you may be better served to focus on the purchase first and get your own home onto the market quickly thereafter.

If you are considering this approach, you will want to make sure everything is ready to go with getting your property onto the market as soon as you have an offer accepted. Speak to a solicitor estate agent early in the process and they will be able to give you a good understanding of your property’s value and the price it is likely to achieve, as well as getting everything lined up so they can get you onto the market quickly as soon as you have an offer accepted.


If you’re thinking of moving home and would like to discuss your options, or if you have any other questions, get in touch with Warners today on 0131 662 4747 or by email at and one of our expert team will be delighted to help.


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