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Should I buy first then sell or sell first then buy?

So what's the best way to go about it? Is it better to find your dream home before you put your existing home on the market or should you prepare your home for sale and then start house-hunting?

The answer to this question depends on a few variables and will be effected by a person's financial position, the housing market in the areas you are buying and selling and also by how flexible you are willing to be in terms of renting or living with family if you find yourself between homes.

What's the housing market in the areas you are buying and selling in?

In a booming housing market the auction clearance rates can be up around the 90% mark. But when things slow down it might take several months for a property to sell, or even longer.

So first of all you should get a strong sense of what is happening in the area you are selling: what is a realistic estimate of how long it might take you to sell? Do your own research on the area in addition to consulting a couple of local real estate agents (just in case they have an overly optimistic viewpoint on this question).

The state of a housing market will also affect your ability to negotiate for the sale of your new home. In a buyer's market, when house sales have slowed down, you will have a greater ability to negotiate the terms of the contract settlement. In many cases, the buyer can choose whether to settle in 30, 60 or 90 days, however, you might be able to extend this to a longer period if you find your dream home but need more time to sell your place.

If the housing market is moving fast, it can work in your favour for private sales if you can settle in a shorter period, such as 30 days, so this is another thing to keep in mind that you could improve your bargaining power if you've already sold your home and you're ready to go.

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What's your financial position?

Are you moving to a larger home and absolutely can't afford your new home without clearing your existing mortgage? Or are you downsizing to a more affordable place, giving you a little more room to move?

If you have some wriggle room, then maybe it will work best for you to find exactly the home you're after before you put your own place on the market.

If you're under a bit of financial pressure, it might feel really stressful for you if you buy a new place but then have trouble selling your old home. It depends on your level of risk tolerance and how much of a financial buffer you have in place.

However, even if you do need the finance from your existing home, you won't be completely stuck if you buy a new place before you sell your home. There is bridging finance available to cover you for this type of scenario, which is usually offered at a competitive rate for the first 12 months of the bridging finance loan. However, some bridging loans can become very expensive after this time period has expired so it's important to know what you're signing up for.

How flexible can you be?

If you'd prefer to keep the transaction low-stress, then it might suit you to sell your place before you buy the new one and try and have a long settlement term on your contract of sale to give you time to find the new abode.

However, buying your home is a massive purchase, so the last thing you want to do is feel rushed into a decision or make a huge unnecessary compromise, so it's worth looking into the options to give you some time. Would you be happy to rent a place for three to six months, or maybe even a year (if you do this, make sure you know what the terms of the lease agreement are if you break the lease or sublease – you don't want this to be too expensive if you find your new home quickly). Or do you have friends or family you can stay with for the crossover period without causing too much stress on these relationships?

Whatever you do, expected the unexpected

Moving home has been listed in the top five of life's most stressful experiences, so it's good to be mindful that whatever option you choose you are likely to experience moments of stress or discomfort. The best approach is to sit down and work out all the options and consider what you would do if things didn't work out as planned. Once you have your backup plans in place and feel comfortable with the level of stress they might cause – then you can proceed with confidence knowing things will be fine no matter what fate, luck and some good hard research decide for you.

Need to finance your property purchase? Compare mortgages in the table below

Rates last updated February 19th, 2019
$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
Repayment type
Your filter criteria do not match any product
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
3.59%
3.61%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online. Available with just a 10% deposit.
3.59%
3.59%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.69%
3.72%
$445
$0 p.a.
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. Get a special discount for a limited time when you open an IMB Transaction Account.
3.57%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a very low interest rate and avoid big fees. Apply online for full approval in under 30 minutes and add a 100% offset account for $10 a month.
3.64%
3.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A simple mortgage with a competitive interest rate and no application or monthly fees. Borrow up to $2000000 from a convenient online lender.
3.54%
3.69%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
A competitive variable rate for home buyers with a 20% deposit. This product has a 100% offset account.
3.49%
4.58%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Loans over $150000 get a discount off an already low fixed rate. Available for NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.74%
4.49%
$445
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 3 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online.
3.54%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Refinancers can get a competitive rate, save on fees and access a 100% offset account plus redraw facility. $700 refinance cashback offer.
3.70%
3.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low interest rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees.
3.59%
3.63%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a low variable interest rate and buy a property with just a 10% deposit. 100% offset account attached.
3.59%
3.62%
$500
$0 p.a.
95%
This mortgage combines a very sharp interest rate with a 100% offset account and it's available with a 5% deposit.
3.49%
3.64%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
70%
A very low variable interest rate for home buyers with a 30% deposit. This product has a 100% offset account.
3.72%
3.72%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
Pay no deposit or LMI and get a discounted rate with this family pledge loan. Requires a family member to act as guarantor. NSW, Qld and ACT only.
3.72%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Save on interest by taking advantage of a 100% offset account along with no ongoing fees or application fees.
3.58%
3.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This loan offers a competitive variable rate and a 100% offset account to help save you on interest repayments.
3.97%
3.99%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This variable rate loan keeps the features simple and fees low. This loan is offered by a 100% online lender.
3.69%
3.85%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
70%
A low fixed rate mortgage for borrowers with a 30% deposit. Comes with a 100% offset account.
3.81%
3.81%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A simple mortgage with no application or ongoing fees that has extra repayments plus split and redraw options. Requires a 30% deposit.
3.88%
3.89%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Save on interest with a free 100% offset account and buy your property with just a 10% deposit.
3.68%
3.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers that comes with a no fee debit card with a $5,000 limit.
3.79%
3.79%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Access an offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees on this special variable rate for owner-occupiers.
3.84%
3.84%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application or ongoing fees and get access to a free redraw facility with this innovative online lender.
3.74%
4.13%
$0
$349 p.a.
90%
Get a sharp rate plus package discounts and a 100% offset account.
3.86%
3.86%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Low fee loan with extra repayments. Pay no application and ongoing fees and take advantage of split and redraw options.
3.69%
3.83%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points on your mortgage (subject to eligibility requirements). Plus, access a 100% offset account to save on interest.
3.69%
4.09%
$600
$395 p.a.
95%
Get interest rate discounts and waived fees on this package loan with a 100% offset account. $500 cashback offer for first homebuyers borrowing over 80% and paying LMI.
3.85%
4.18%
$500
$0 p.a.
95%
Apply for Easy Street fixed rate home loans and get a competitive loan with a fixed interest rate.
3.82%
3.93%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
90%
Get Velocity Frequent Flyer Points at settlement, monthly and every three years, plus the option to make up to $10,000 a year in extra repayments.
3.70%
3.90%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Enjoy all the benefits of the Basic Home Loan and take advantage of an offset account.
3.85%
4.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A package home loan with a sharp fixed rate and a 10% deposit option for low deposit borrowers.
3.73%
3.87%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points with this mortgage to spend on flights and more (for a limited time, subject to eligibility requirements). Redraw facility available on this variable rate home loan. Competitive interest rate.
3.89%
4.27%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
New borrowers or refinancers can get a discounted rate with this package loan.
4.14%
3.94%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application or ongoing fee and borrow up to 80% LVR.
3.81%
4.06%
$0
$248 p.a.
70%
Borrowers with a 30% deposit can get this competitive rate. Cut down on interest costs with a 100% offset account.
3.69%
4.75%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
Enjoy a competitive rate with no application fee for this package loan.
4.04%
4.07%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
For a limited time, pay no application or settlement fees. You can also take advantage of a free redraw facility.
3.97%
3.99%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Package your owner occupied loan with investment loan and receive a discounted investment rate. 100% offset account included.
3.83%
3.84%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low-fee line of credit loan from an online lender. Unlock the equity in your home and make interest-only repayments with a competitive rate.
3.99%
5.35%
$600
$0 p.a.
90%
Competitive rates for fixed for 3 years with redraw facility.
4.10%
4.10%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Investors with a 30% deposit can get this low rate loan to fund their property portfolio. Take advantage of split and redraw facilities.
4.13%
4.14%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Access a fee-free offset account and a special interest rate for investors.
4.18%
4.18%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors get a 100% offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees on this loan from an innovative online lender.
3.72%
3.73%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
New customers can get a discounted variable rate and a fee-free redraw facility. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.69%
4.08%
$0
$349 p.a.
90%
Package your loan with other AMP products and save on rates and fees.
3.94%
4.95%
$595
$0 p.a.
95%
Borrow up to 95% LVR of the value of the property you're buying and pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.99%
3.99%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.
3.70%
3.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Get a discount for keeping your LVR at $70% or below with this innovative online lender.
3.99%
4.92%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Access a fee-free 100% offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.74%
4.56%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
A fixed rate loan with a 100% offset account and the option to make additional repayments. Loans over $150000 receive a discounted rate. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.99%
4.62%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
4.29%
4.30%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
A competitive 3-year fixed rate loan with a high max insured LVR.

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Credit services for Aussie Select, Aussie IQ and Aussie Optimizer products are provided by AHL Investments Pty Ltd ACN 105 265 861 Australian Credit Licence 246786 ("Aussie"), and its appointed credit representatives. Credit for Aussie Select products is provided by Residential Mortgage Group Pty Ltd ACN 152 378 133 Australian Credit Licence 414133 (“RMG”). RMG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 234945. Credit for Aussie Optimizer products is provided by Perpetual Limited ABN 86 000 431 827 (Lender). Credit for Aussie IQ is provided by Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 237502. Home loans issued by the Lender are serviced by Macquarie Securitisation Limited ABN 16 003 297 336, Australian Credit Licence 237863 (MSL).

Aussie is a trade mark of AHL Investments Pty Ltd. Aussie is a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. ©2018 AHL Investments Pty Ltd ABN 27 105 265 861 Australian Credit Licence 246786.

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Marc Terrano

Marc Terrano is a Lead Publisher at finder. He's been writing and publishing personal finance content for over five years and loves to help Australians get a better deal.

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UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount offer for Owner Occupiers, P&I Borrowing over $200,000

Take advantage of a low-fee mortgage with a special interest rate of just 3.59% p.a. and a 3.59% p.a. comparison rate.

HSBC Home Value Loan - (Owner Occupier P&I)

Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online. Available with just a 10% deposit.

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A competitive interest rate home loan with interest only options. Interest rate 3.64% p.a.
comp rate of 3.66% p.a.

Tic:Toc Live in Loan Variable Rate - Principal & Interest

Get a very low interest rate and avoid big fees. Apply online for full approval in under 30 minutes and add a 100% offset account for $10 a month.

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