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Home | Financial Resource Center Home | Financial Calculators | Mortgage Payoff | Should You Live in Your Home While Trying to Sell?
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It’s probably one of the top questions home sellers ask themselves: Should we continue to live in our house while we sell it, or should we move out? Will one choice hurt our chances of selling quickly and for top dollar? These are important questions to ask—after all, lengthening the selling process can become expensive, e.g. paying two mortgages or a mortgage and rent.

Perhaps your moving circumstances dictate that you must or cannot stay in your home while it’s on the market. If that’s the case, there are still some helpful tips below on how to manage either scenario for greater peace of mind and a quick sale.

Selling while your home is vacant

This option is most commonly chosen when a person or family can easily move in with family or must move immediately into their new accommodations—maybe to start a new job. If neither of these scenarios apply to you, there are still reasons you may choose to move out but stay in town.

Pros:

  • Your life won’t be interrupted every time a real estate agent wants to bring by prospective buyers.
  • Agents might feel more comfortable and eager to bring buyers through because they won’t have to coordinate times with you. Increased showings mean more chances to sell.
  • You won’t feel the need to keep your home immaculate while also living your life. This can be extra challenging with kids and/or pets.
  • You have the option of staging your home to increase appeal to a wider array of buyers. After a thorough cleaning and touch-up painting, staging can create an inviting mood and even make a space seem bigger or brighter.

Cons:

  • Staging may be necessary to help prospective buyers envision living comfortably in your home, and staging can be expensive. Looking at bare walls and floors just doesn’t do the job, sometimes.
  • Vacant homes often attract vandals and thieves. You could end up paying out-of-pocket for repairs if you don’t pay for a separate “vacant home” insurance policy.

Selling while staying in your home

If you think this is the best option for you, you’ll need to strike a balance between living comfortably and being able to show your home in its best light at the drop of a hat.

Pros:

  • Showing your home with your own furniture means not paying for staging and keeping the “comfy” appeal. Buyers won’t struggle to imagine if a king-sized bed will fit or how many chairs will fit comfortably in the dining room.
  • You would be present to deal with any emergencies like frozen or burst pipes, leaks, weather damage to the roof, etc.
  • If you’re home at the end of a tour, you can answer any questions buyers might have that the agent can’t answer. However, don’t hang around while the tour is in progress; this can make agents and buyers feel uncomfortable. Go out for a coffee or a long walk around the neighborhood.
  • You won’t pay duplicate utility bills. For-sale-homes need to have all utilities on and working for showing, inspection, and appraisal.

Cons:

  • You might find it impossible to clean and declutter your house enough to make it attractive to a wide range of buyers.
  • You’ll need to either establish a schedule with agents for when they can show your home (which could limit the number of showings) or be ready to leave your house (in perfect condition) on short notice.
  • If you don’t have accommodations lined up, a buyer might walk away from a deal because you aren’t ready to move out fast enough.

Tips for staying

If staying in your home is right for you, here are six tips to minimize stress:

  • Begin to pack and downsize now. Go through every drawer, cabinet, closet and your attic, basement, and garage to dispose or donate things you don’t use. The more organized you can be, the better. Buyers will open all doors, hoping to see lots of open space where they can put their own stuff!
  • Consider renting a storage unit to hold over-large furniture, seasonal decorations, sports gear, and anything you won’t use between now and when you expect to move. Clutter gets in the way of everyone!
  • Keep kitchen counters clear and empty.
  • Keep pet areas spotless and odor-free.
  • Tell your listing agent that buyers’ agents must accompany their clients during open houses and showings.
  • Protect your valuables with a vault or by removing them entirely from your home. For example:
    • Personal documents
    • Prescription medication
    • Easily removable digital devices
    • Jewelry and collectables

Without a doubt, selling your home comes with many decisions to make. Hopefully the decision to stay or go will now be an easier one!