Tips to Help Homeowners Transition into New Home

Couple signing financial terms
Help your buyers ease into their new home.

As a Realtor, you know the value of making a noncontingent offer. Yet, approximately 66 percent of homebuyers are repeat buyers, most of whom need to sell their house to make their transition into their next home. Timing the closings for a smooth transition can be challenging, particularly when their next home is a newly built one and there are possibilities of delays.

Some repeat buyers decide to sell their current home and move twice, but real estate agents who can help their clients avoid that scenario garner gratitude and, most likely, more referrals. You can leverage your market knowledge to help your clients decide when to put their home on the market and whether negotiating a long rent-back of as much as 60 days might be feasible.

Some other options for transitioning from one home to another to share with your buyers include:

Bridge loans

While bridge loans largely disappeared after the housing crisis, more lenders are offering them again to well-qualified borrowers.

“Bridge loans are nontraditional loans that are typically offered by community banks and credit unions and don’t need to conform to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines,” says Kelli Yarbrough, a senior vice president for loan retention with Round Point Mortgage Servicing.

Bridge loans, since they are temporary, usually have an interest-only payment and are short-term loans for a period of six months to three years. The loan proceeds, which can be a lump sum or a line-of-credit, can be used for your clients’ deposit on a new home, their down payment or even to make payments on the new home while they wait for their home to sell. To qualify, your customers need equity in their current home and the income to cover payments on their current loan, the bridge loan and the new home loan.

Since these are portfolio loans, lenders have leeway when approving a bridge loan. As a Realtor, you can help your client qualify by making a sound analysis of the market value of their home and an estimate of how long it will take to sell.

“Realtors who can find local lenders who offer bridge loans provide a great service to their buyers,” says Yarbrough.

Agents can suggest that their buyers get a preapproval for a bridge loan just in case they need one when their new home is nearly ready, says Yarbrough.

Sell home to an iBuyer

As a real estate agent, you know an important part of sales is to overcome objections and solve customer’s “pain points.” The need to sell a home before buying another is one of those pain points. Opendoor, Offerpad and Redfin offer nearly instant relief by purchasing homes directly from buyers in some markets. Opendoor, for example, operates in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, San Antonio and Nashville. The company intends to expand to 10 more markets in 2019.

“We have a partnership mentality with real estate agents,” says Derek Schairer, director of home builder partnerships for Opendoor. “Agents can present Opendoor offers to their clients. We share the commission with agents who suggest Opendoor to their clients.”

Opendoor, which charges an average of six to seven percent of the sales price to sellers, makes an offer based on information provided by customers on its website. A follow-up inspection finalizes the price. Sellers can choose a settlement date between three days and nine months, which makes it ideal for buyers of newly built homes. Buyers can handle repairs themselves or pay Opendoor to manage them.

Opendoor is partnering with 19 homebuilders for their Builder Program, which helps buyers sync their closing dates. The company also offers a “late check-out” feature that allows customers two days after the closing to move.

“Opendoor can be a good tool for agents because of the flexible timing and the certainty of the sale,” says Schairer. “We can step in if someone needs a quick sale in order to buy an inventory home or if a contract falls through just as someone is ready to move into their new home.”

Allow an iBuyer to purchase new home for client

On the opposite side of the transaction, Knock.com starts by buying the new home for their customers, lines up financing and then repairs and sells their old home. Customers can move into their new home as soon as its ready and then the title is transferred to them after their old home sells.

“Our site helps people with every part of the transaction,” says Sean Black, co-founder and CEO of Knock. “They can submit information about their current home and instantly find out what it’s worth. Then, we have the ability to upload all their documents to get a loan preapproval from one of the lenders in our mortgage marketplace, so they have an accurate idea of their budget.”

When the buyers find the home they want, they can make an all-cash offer because Knock is buying it for them.

“For trade-up buyers, especially families with kids, timing a move can be extremely stressful, especially when they need to work around the school schedule,” says Black. “This allows them to move into their new home at the right time for them, plus they’ve moved out of their old home and don’t have the stress of keeping it immaculate while buyers look at it.”

Real estate agents can benefit from Knock, too, Black says.

“Our customers pay a six percent commission, half of which goes to the agent representing the buyer of their house,” says Black. “Knock will manage repairs for sellers, advance them up to $10,000 and get repaid at settlement.”

Black says they encourage buyer’s agents to look at their properties, because they are in good repair and they’ll get paid their full commission.

“Our tech-enabled services make it easier and faster for buyer’s agents,” says Black. “We also hire salaried local agents to work for us, who then get bonuses and benefits.”
Knock also relies on a network of licensed agents who will show houses for them on an as-needed basis to make extra money.

While internet buyers call themselves disruptors to traditional real estate practices, there are ways for agents to leverage their services as well as more traditional financing methods to help their clients make the transition from their old house to a newly built house.

About the author 

Michele Lerner

Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades. She writes for regional, national and international publications in print and online for a variety of audiences including consumers, real estate investors, business owners and real estate professionals. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Urban Land magazine, NAREIT’s REIT magazine, National Real Estate Investor Magazine and online at Bankrate.com, HSH.com, The Motley Fool, DailyFinance.com, Insurance.com, Fox Business, MSN, Yahoo, Investopedia.com, MoneyCrashers.com, GetRichSlowly.com and in numerous state and local realtor association publications.

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