When my husband and I first moved in together, we lived in a starter home that was spacious enough for just us but wouldn't have been large enough to raise a family. Initially, we thought we'd wait until we were actually ready to have kids before abandoning our smaller home and upsizing. But when home values in our neighborhood started to decline in late 2008, we decided to get moving. We spent a few months fixing up our home and adding cosmetic enhancements, and in early 2009, we hired a real estate agent to put our home on the market.
Our home sold within days of getting listed (in fact, we wound up accepting an offer that came out of our first and only open house). And we were able to get a good price for it in light of the general real estate market decline that was happening around us.
There was just one problem: We hadn't yet found a new home to move to. And that wound up proving very challenging.
A stressful situation
When we listed our home, we didn't expect it to sell so quickly. And we also didn't necessarily expect to get as high an offer as we did.
Not wanting to lose out financially, we took that offer, especially since our buyers wanted to close four months down the line. We figured that would give us enough time to find a new home and close on it so we could sell and finalize our purchase simultaneously.
That didn't happen. The neighborhoods we thought we wanted to move to at the time didn't end up offering as much value for the money as we thought they would, so after a month of looking at houses about 30 minutes away with no success, we decided to switch gears and search in our existing neighborhood.
Sure enough, we did stumble on an opportunity to buy new construction. And we were told that our new home would, in fact, be completed right in time for our closing date on our old home.
That didn't happen either. Instead, construction was delayed a good five months beyond its original estimated completion date.
My husband and I wound up having to close on our old house, put all of our stuff in storage, and rent an apartment 40 miles away on a month-to-month basis while we waited for our builders to get the job done. The reason we had to move so far away is that shorter-term rentals weren't available in our area (rentals are harder to come by in general where we are), and also, we needed a rental that would accommodate our dog and came furnished.
All told, it was a very stressful year for us, and while I can point a finger at our builders for their numerous construction-related delays, my husband and I are also to blame. What we should have done was searched for homes before listing our property to see what was out there. Had we done so, we may have realized that our target neighborhoods wouldn't work and that we'd need a backup plan, which could've gotten us moving sooner.
On the other hand, soon after we sold our home, property values in our area really started plunging. And so while we erred on one hand, we came away with more money in exchange for our hassle.
As of now, I'm not planning to sell my current home. But if I change my mind, one thing I'll do differently is conduct an extensive in-person home search before putting it on the market to make sure I'm not setting myself up for another disaster.