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Old 11-18-2013, 05:49 AM   #21
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We just took the other tack and bought first. Downsizing was not our aim, though. I bought a starter home/fixer upper and stayed there. A 1000 year flood hit five years ago and the area is heading downhill. When a new neighbor started making meth (shake and bake) in my yard and dealing from his house while I was at work, it was time. A week after close, he left. I feel a lot better about selling my place with him gone. I couldn't in good conscience sell it to a family with kids.

My "must-have" list was stringent and non negotiable, so our realtor had a very tough time, but we now have an age-in-place capable, tornado and flood proof home that can go off grid, if need be, and is in a great neighborhood. With the blizzards that we can get hit with, off-grid for a week or two is possible.

Financially, I cashed in some investments, pulling a small portion out of what looks to me to be market highs, plopping it in a real estate market that is relatively depressed still in my opinion.
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Old 11-19-2013, 01:47 PM   #22
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We sold first...and then put everything into a 16X8X8 PODS container for storage.

Best thing we ever did. Had a great forced clear out of 30 plus years of stuff. It forced us to be prepared for a downsize. And we are still discarding unwanted items.
We recently downsized and if I had to do it again this is exactly what I would have done ! Instead we bought first, moved and sold second. I had too much clutter and a bit of deferred maintenance to do on the old house and wasn't ready to show it until all that had been taken care of. While it worked out in the end (the old house sold for full asking price in 9 days) it added a TON of stress during the 8 weeks between moving out and listing.


Downsizing has been fabulous ! Instead of 4 hrs to clean the floors I'm down to 45 minutes - and that includes vacuuming AND "wet mopping" (with an eletric mop). And I eliminated so much unnecessary stuff that I actually have empty space in the kitchen cabinets and drawers !

ETA: We bought the second house for cash and the first house only had $2k left on the mortgage. I was able to carry the house for a couple of years if I needed to. And even with all that the stress of carrying it for just 2 months drove me nuts. Worrying about roof leaks, pool leaks, HVAC failures while not living there was maddening. We were visiting the empty house 3x a week and that was taking its toll. I wouldn't do it that way again - EVER !
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Old 11-19-2013, 02:38 PM   #23
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We are clearing out stuff and getting inspections and the repair work done now. Either way we go I want to minimize the transition time from one house to the next, and have our house all staged, fixed up and ready to sell.

We helped someone downsize a few years ago who either became a hoarder after a divorce or was always a hoarder and the ex-spouse had kept the areas of the house people saw picked up. It took hours to just clean out expired food. I had a hard time getting her to agree to let me throw our 4 year old boxes of Christmas candy.

That was a good wake up call for us to really try to declutter now well before the house is even up for sale.
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Old 11-19-2013, 03:25 PM   #24
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We are clearing out stuff and getting inspections and the repair work done now. ..... That was a good wake up call for us to really try to declutter now well before the house is even up for sale.
We started decluttering about 2 months before we were ready to start looking for the new house. The Salvation Army and Goodwill were the recipients of alot of very seldom used items. We took the same method that the show Hoarders uses and went through each room creating boxes of "donate, keep, sell, trash". The donate and sell both became donate (too lazy to try and sell it). The "keep" boxes were very small in all of the rooms except the master bedroom, master bathroom, living room and kitchen. Even thou we went from 2900 sq ft to 1500 sq ft I now have space to spare ! Its amazing. You'll love downsizing.
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Old 11-19-2013, 03:36 PM   #25
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We started decluttering about 2 months before we were ready to start looking for the new house. The Salvation Army and Goodwill were the recipients of alot of very seldom used items. We took the same method that the show Hoarders uses and went through each room creating boxes of "donate, keep, sell, trash". The donate and sell both became donate (too lazy to try and sell it). The "keep" boxes were very small in all of the rooms except the master bedroom, master bathroom, living room and kitchen. Even thou we went from 2900 sq ft to 1500 sq ft I now have space to spare ! Its amazing. You'll love downsizing.
When we look at the staged houses, they almost all look great and the thing they have in common is minimal furniture and not a lot of clutter.

I don't know if we can get rid of everything in 2 months. We may have to get a storage unit for some interim period. But we are looking forward to no leaves to rake, less to clean and minimal stuff.
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Old 11-21-2013, 07:56 PM   #26
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I priced out the cost of staying at a two bedroom, pets allowed, furnished corporate type apartment compared to how much our current house costs and showed it to DH. He was concerned that the corporate housing would cost too much money to stay in if we sold first and he didn't want to have to move twice.

If we stay at a furnished 2 bedroom suite type place we can put the furniture from the house in a pod and we only have to pack up once. Plus with the corporate housing we no longer have to pay separate amounts for property taxes, Internet, utilities, etc. and we can invest the money from the current house. So in the end the corporate housing isn't a bad deal at all. Plus we get the gym, pool, maid service, etc.

I also pointed out all the sage advice from this thread like then we will know exactly how much money we have from the old house before we make an offer on the new house, how if prices go down we won't have two houses to lose money on, etc.

So he agreed that selling first was the right thing to do. So thanks for all the great advice. I appreciate that many of you had good reasons for selling second and appreciate you sharing your experiences with me, but for us in our current market with relatively high real estate prices compared to the rest of the country, crazy month to month and year to year price changes, rising interest rates and maybe being in a bubble market I just wasn't comfortable owning two houses at one time.
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Old 11-21-2013, 07:59 PM   #27
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I think you have made a good decision!
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Old 11-21-2013, 10:22 PM   #28
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DW & I bought first, like NW-Reader and Meadbh. We are a few years from ER, but we knew where we wanted to end up. The market there was seriously down, and interest rates were very low, so we bought a house last year. Prices there are up about 10% since then. We are renting out the new house until we ER, which covers the mortgage and expenses. (We knew this would work before buying, due to the serious rental shortage in the area.)

In our current location, the market went down, but not as drastically. Even if the market doesn't pick up much here by ER time, I'm not particularly worried. We bought the current house during a slow stretch 20 years ago, and it's been paid off for a few years now. My main goal is to recover sufficient cash from selling the current house to be able to pay off the new one. Overall, we've had fortunate timing.

One other minor benefit to having the retirement home first - We already know how much space we will have once we get to the point of decluttering and downsizing from our current location.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:00 AM   #29
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We put our house on the market and then bought our second house shortly afterwards (before the first house sold). We expected our house to sell pretty quickly, but that didn't turn out to be the case. It took a year to sell the house, after several significant price reductions. We could afford both payments, but just barely. In the end it worked out fine -- we learned to be very frugal, and we still cleared quite a bit of $$ on the first house. But a year of two mortgage payments and not knowing if/when our house would sell was very stressful and risky.

So though your situation might be slightly different than mine, it's close enough for me to recommend selling before buying based on my experience.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:09 AM   #30
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We put our house on the market and then bought our second house shortly afterwards (before the first house sold). We expected our house to sell pretty quickly, but that didn't turn out to be the case. It took a year to sell the house, after several significant price reductions. We could afford both payments, but just barely. In the end it worked out fine -- we learned to be very frugal, and we still cleared quite a bit of $$ on the first house. But a year of two mortgage payments and not knowing if/when our house would sell was very stressful and risky.

So though your situation might be slightly different than mine, it's close enough for me to recommend selling before buying based on my experience.
I think your forum name is very apt in this situation!
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:22 AM   #31
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But a year of two mortgage payments and not knowing if/when our house would sell was very stressful and risky.
Yes, I am risk averse, so for me selling first is the clear winner.

I pointed out to DH we have relatives who have traveled in RVs with more people and less square feet for months at a time and they survived.

We will be living in 4 - 5 rooms for who knows how long but they also have a business center, pool, breakfast room, etc. With the free breakfasts and light dinner, we might actually save money living in the corporate housing.

If it feels too cramped, we can also join a gym, go to the library, work at a cafe with wi-fi or rent some office space for work to have other places to go.

Thanks again to all who posted for helping us think this through. The right answer for us seems obvious now.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:30 AM   #32
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I'm a bit late to this thread but having bought prior to selling once in my life, I'd never do it again. Like ABinH, it took us far longer than anticipated to sell our house and paying two mortgages month after month was not something I'd ever want to repeat.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:35 AM   #33
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So he agreed that selling first was the right thing to do. So thanks for all the great advice. I appreciate that many of you had good reasons for selling second and appreciate you sharing your experiences with me, but for us in our current market with relatively high real estate prices compared to the rest of the country, crazy month to month and year to year price changes, rising interest rates and maybe being in a bubble market I just wasn't comfortable owning two houses at one time.
Wise choice.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:08 PM   #34
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It's tough with a dog (I don't have one). Maybe you could board the dog and go over there a lot and visit with the dog.
In our family, I would be more likely to be boarded rather than our dog. At least I still generate some income.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:19 PM   #35
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We want to downsize, and I could use some of your collective wisdom on how to go about it. We are currently in a bubble area and would like to sell before things burst. I don't see the current appreciation rates as sustainable.

We are not sure if it is better to buy the next house first, or sell the one we have first, move to temporary housing and then look for something to buy. We have a dog and work from home with various computer set ups, so moving twice and living in cramped temporary quarters without any dedicated office space isn't ideal.

On the other hand, home prices are very expensive here, so it is a bit scary to have what to us is a lot of money tied up in two houses. Part of the reason for selling is to lock in our gains and reduce our real estate exposure. Houses have gone up or down in price by over $25K in just one month in the area where we are now. The house we buy next will cost probably half as much as the one we own currently, so if the bubble busts our downside will be more limited.

I think it is safer to sell the one we have now first, the higher priced one, since that is more subject to wilder price fluctuations. That way we aren't funding two households for the overlap period. The downside to that is we may not find a house we love in the next few months after we sell ours. If we buy first we could take our time to buy the perfect house and then sell ours later.

I am leaning towards selling first because of the bubble prices. If we sell first and the bubble bursts we come out ahead buying the second house. If we sell first and price jump more we come out behind, but I think interest rates are more likely headed up than down, which would favor selling first.

Any advice is appreciated.
I would suggest that you sell first, unless you can take the financial risk. We never did that in the past, but with our downsizing last year and a soft market, we sold first.

The downside was that it created a lot of short term stress, since the new owners wanted the house in four weeks. But we sold them a lot of our furniture. We limited our search to houses that we could move into quickly to avoid the double move. We thought about renting, but it was cheaper to buy with rates low. Plus, we had a dog, too, so rentals were an issue, and a fenced yard was a priority.

On the positive side, the urgency we created to downsize worked well, too. Yesterday my wife was discussing our big old house we left, and I asked her if she wanted me to buy it back, and she said "not a chance!" Downsizing was one of our best ER moves, so I would encourage you to do it.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:57 PM   #36
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On the positive side, the urgency we created to downsize worked well, too. Yesterday my wife was discussing our big old house we left, and I asked her if she wanted me to buy it back, and she said "not a chance!" Downsizing was one of our best ER moves, so I would encourage you to do it.
We are pretty committed to downsizing. All the Internet blogs and forums on ER, slow travel, minimal living, etc. and happiness studies have opened our eyes that with our particular hobbies and interests we would really be happier having less stuff, less house expense, a lock and go place to live, and more free time.

We just haven't agreed on how to tackle the actual sequence of the move until now.
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Corporate Housing Research
Old 11-22-2013, 03:02 PM   #37
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Corporate Housing Research

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I priced out the cost of staying at a two bedroom, pets allowed, furnished corporate type apartment compared to how much our current house costs and showed it to DH. He was concerned that the corporate housing would cost too much money to stay in if we sold first and he didn't want to have to move twice.

If we stay at a furnished 2 bedroom suite type place we can put the furniture from the house in a pod and we only have to pack up once. Plus with the corporate housing we no longer have to pay separate amounts for property taxes, Internet, utilities, etc. and we can invest the money from the current house. So in the end the corporate housing isn't a bad deal at all. Plus we get the gym, pool, maid service, etc.
....
Can you share any pointers regarding how you approach this research?

I have considered this in the past under different circumstances; but, in most areas, realtors/brokers are not much assistance and rates available form the web are not what I would call reasonable. ($3000+/month for a Residence Inn in Houston for example.)

I have not found a good way to get a realistic estimate of what something like this would cost me across town, much less in a different city, without doing considerable leg work
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Old 11-22-2013, 06:26 PM   #38
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Can you share any pointers regarding how you approach this research?

I have considered this in the past under different circumstances; but, in most areas, realtors/brokers are not much assistance and rates available form the web are not what I would call reasonable. ($3000+/month for a Residence Inn in Houston for example.)

I have not found a good way to get a realistic estimate of what something like this would cost me across town, much less in a different city, without doing considerable leg work
I added up our current annual mortgage interest, property tax, cable, Internet, utilities, home insurance, repair and tree trimming costs and divided by 12. If we sell the house we can invest the money from the house and earn interest. Plus we get free breakfast and happy hours, which DH says the last time he stayed at one actually had snacks enough for a real meal.

The rates at Residence Inn type places are all online at places like Kayak. We used the rates for one a bit out of town so the prices would be cheaper, but we don't commute to jobs so we are okay with that.

It really depends on your local Residence Inn type rates, current house / breakfast expenses and how long you think it will take to find a new house if this would work out for you.
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