Where to Live Between Buying and Selling a House

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|10 min read

For many homeowners, selling their house marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter. But it also creates a tricky situation – finding temporary housing between the sale closing and moving into their next home. This transitional period can range from a few weeks to several months, leaving sellers scrambling to figure out where to live between selling and buying.

When the pressure is on to find a new roof over your head, which options do you prioritize – cost, convenience, or comfort? There are always trade-offs to consider.

There are several ways for homeowners to bridge the gap between selling their old house and buying their new one. Establishing a temporary housing plan in advance and building flexibility around closing dates allows sellers to minimize disruptions during this moving process. With the right approach, the transition can be far less challenging.

What Happens After Your Home Sale?

After you’ve sold your house, you need to start planning for the move-out day. This happens typically around the closing date (or earlier), which is when the sale is finalized. Your belongings must be packed up, and the property must be vacated when you hand over the keys.

Many sellers choose temporary accommodation, like booking a short-term rental property or reserving an extended-stay hotel room. This gives flexibility while tying up loose ends at your old place and buying your new home.

But sometimes, the best option doesn’t require directly moving out of your old home, but instead arranging a rent-back agreement.

Rent-Back Agreements

A rent-back agreement allows the seller to continue living in the home for a specified period after closing. The seller effectively pays rent to the buyer during this time.

Rent-backs provide a solution to cover the gap between selling one house and buying another. Sellers sometimes make rent-backs a condition of the sale during the home selling process.

The rent-back period can range from a few days to several months or even a year, depending on the situation and agreement between buyer and seller.

Form a Binding Agreement: Work with a Real Estate Attorney 

If you find a buyer willing to make a rent-back agreement, the transition between selling and buying can be much easier. But before you get too comfortable, remember this isn’t a verbal handshake deal.

To protect all parties, you need a binding contract, and in real estate, that means it must be in writing. Rent-back agreements should be negotiated during the purchase process and should not be requested at the last minute.

To protect all parties, have a real estate attorney draw up a legally binding lease agreement.

The rent-back agreement should specify the:

  • Rental rate
  • Length of occupancy
  • Security deposit details
  • Utility and maintenance responsibilities
  • Insurance requirement
  • Cleaning fees
  • Any other requirements specific to the property.

With a proper lease in place, a rent-back allows sellers time to find their next home while letting buyers take ownership.

Short Term Rental Options

Short-term rentals, sublets, and corporate housing can serve as highly practical accommodations for temporary relocation between property purchases. Of course, securing such an arrangement does require some upfront planning and coordination on the part of the renter.

Landlords or traditional rental properties may be amenable to short lease agreements, depending on factors like neighborhood demand, time of year, and current real estate market conditions in the area.

Three to six-month rentals occasionally surface through online listings or via a real estate agent. It’s worth considering whether you need a furnished or unfurnished property, taking into account the cost and effort of storing personal belongings and your desired living quarters.

Naturally, the flexibility afforded by a short-term agreement does typically carry a premium in terms of rent or security deposit. However, for many individuals and families, the convenience is well worth the nominal added cost.

If one is uncertain about a confirmed move-out date, negotiating a month-to-month term can remove that element of uncertainty and rigidity. This adaptable structure serves to streamline the rental process between purchasing a new home and selling an existing one, allowing time for an extended stay if needed while home shopping.

Apartments and Condos

Renting an apartment or condo on a short-term basis can provide familiar amenities like a full kitchen, in-unit laundry, and access to a gym or pool. However, the downside is you’ll likely need to move twice in a short timeframe – once into the rental and again when your new home is ready.

Month-to-month leases allow flexibility but may carry higher rents than a yearly lease. Be prepared to pay a security deposit and extra fees too. The temporary nature means constantly packing and unpacking.

But if you value easy access to urban conveniences, an apartment or condo rental offers a turnkey housing solution.

Airbnb and Vrbo

Vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo permit great freedom when securing interim housing between selling and buying a home. You can easily search based on location, amenities, space needs, and reviews.

Extended stays of 30 days or longer unlock major discounts versus nightly rates. The ability to cook meals in a full kitchen and enjoy other amenities of “home” brings comfort during transitions.

You avoid the hassle of having to move your belongings twice or setting up utilities as vacation rentals come fully equipped. However, renters will need to arrange temporary storage for most of their household belongings as they can’t be stored as the Airbnb. But for flexibility, many sellers utilize home shares for temporary quarters.

Extended Stay Hotels

Extended-stay hotels provide an ideal option for interim housing needs when transitioning between selling and buying a home. These properties cater specifically to guests staying for long periods, from weeks to months.

The main benefits of extended stay hotel include:

  • Kitchenettes for cooking your own meals
  • On-site laundry facilities
  • Discounted long-term rates
  • Workforce accommodations
  • Pet-friendly policies
  • Fitness centers

Popular nationwide extended-stay chains include:

  • Extended Stay America
  • Homewood Suites
  • Residence Inn
  • TownePlace Suites by Marriott
  • Candlewood Suites
  • MainStay Suites

With amenities tailored to long-term guests, extended-stay hotels offer convenience and comfort for temporary housing between real estate transactions.

The national footprints provide lodging options whether you’re moving locally or relocating across the country.

Staying with Family or Friends

When needing temporary housing between selling your current home and purchasing another, staying with family or friends can seem like an easy and cheap fix. However, there are some key factors to weigh first.

The main advantage of residing with relatives or friends is obviously eliminating lodging costs. Rather than paying for a hotel or furnished rental, you can stay rent-free or at a discount with your nearest and dearest. This provides way more living space, bedrooms, amenities, and freedom than a standard hotel room.

If you have children or pets, staying with loved ones can be a more comfortable option. Being around family and friends also gives you emotional support during a stressful transition while giving you time to connect.

However, there are some clear disadvantages that require honest consideration:

  • Must establish clear expectations upfront on length of stay.
  • Restricts privacy and personal space.
  • Risk of overstaying welcome and causing conflicts.
  • Necessitates conforming to different house rules.

To make residing with family or friends go smoothly:

  • Communicate a firm departure date in advance.
  • Assist with chores and household duties.
  • Respect shared common spaces.
  • Discuss contributing to household expenses.
  • Establish clear boundaries and expectations.
  • Research backup options in case it doesn’t work out.

Most importantly, have a contingency plan prepared in case tensions arise. It’s best to have another temporary housing option as a plan B.

Transitional Housing Considerations

When making a move between homes, securing temporary accommodations is an important logistical and financial consideration. The costs associated with short-term rentals, storage, and daily living expenses during a transition period can add up quickly if not properly planned for in advance.

Some key factors to examine include rental rates for furnished short-term units versus extended-stay hotels in one’s desired location.

Depending on your location and the size of space required, furnished rentals typically range from $1,500-4,000 per month, while hotel stays average $2,000-4,500 monthly. Storage is another necessary expense, with units in the $90-300 per month range on average.

Moving belongings safely creates another added expense. Professional movers can efficiently transport cherished items, but each move can cost sever thousand dollars depending on the amount of belongings you have.

Downsizing possessions prior to a transition helps reduce associated costs. Donating or selling unwanted furniture and items avoids high storage and shipping fees.

With a strategic plan for accommodations, finding storage companies, and addressing transportation and living expenses during the interim period, you can minimize financial surprises and stress between home purchases. Proper research, budgeting, and organization facilitate a smoother transition.

How to Align the Timing of Selling and Buying

Before listing your home for sale, give thought to your ideal move-out timeframe after the closing date. Communicate this clearly to your real estate agent so they can negotiate suitable terms with potential buyers on your behalf. Be upfront about your ideal move-out needs, but recognize that not all buyers will be amenable to significant rent-backs or delays in occupancy.

Many buyers are willing to grant the sellers about 1-2 weeks after the closing date to fully move out and vacate the property.

As a seller, try to be as amenable as possible to small compromises from buyers, such as allowing them to store some belongings in the garage early while they finalize their own move. Negotiating a rent-back agreement can also allow you, as the seller, to remain in the home for an extended period after closing for a mutually agreed upon fee. 

Having honest conversations about timelines and being creative with terms like rent-backs and occupancy periods can go a long way toward easing the transition between selling your current home and moving into your next one.

If you’re in a competitive seller’s market, you likely have more negotiation power to arrange a closing or move-out date that works best for your timeframe. However, a little flexibility and compromise from both buyers and sellers makes the process smoother.

Line Up New Housing

Don’t wait until your home is officially on the market or under contract to start researching options for your next home. Get pre-approved for financing right away so you can act quickly when you find the right property. Begin viewing potential listings as soon as possible, and be ready to make prompt offers when you locate a new home that meets your needs and budget.

If the timing between selling your old place and buying a new one is tight, consider negotiating closing dates that provide some overlap by leveraging bridge loan financing. Alternatively,  ask sellers if they will permit a short-term leaseback or temporary lodging in the new home after closing. 

While it’s not always possible, having your new house lined up before closing is the best way to ensure a smooth transition. Talk to your mortgage broker about bridge financing or temporary financing where the mortgage lender pays off your current mortgage so you can move before finalizing the sale. 

Work with your agent to minimize the chances of getting stuck between properties when transitioning from one home to the next.

Plan Proactively

To prevent getting caught off guard, build in extra time cushions when estimating dates and planning your transition between homes. In real estate transactions, delays are common. Give yourself more wiggle room by overestimating your absolute must-move-by date and underestimating how long it will realistically take to sell your current home.

Get a head start on the physical moving process by beginning to sort, pack, declutter, and downsize your belongings well in advance. Store irreplaceable items, personal documents, and other essentials at an off-site location so they are not misplaced during the move.

Stay mentally flexible. Even if you don’t anticipate needing temporary housing, keep researching short-term rental options and have a backup plan ready. That way, if your home sells more quickly than expected, you’ll have several interim solutions already researched.

Planning ahead, building in time buffers, and remaining flexible will allow you to navigate a seamless transition between selling your old home and settling into your new one.

Bridging the Housing Gap 

Transitioning between selling your current home and purchasing a new one can be stressful, especially when the timing isn’t perfectly aligned. However, with proper planning and flexibility, you can minimize any time gap between properties.

Temporary housing like furnished rentals, extended stay hotels, or even staying with family allows you time to secure the perfect home rather than rushing into a decision. Storage units keep your belongings safe as you downsize to interim quarters. 

Build in time buffers, start packing early, and research options to avoid feeling pressured. Negotiate closing dates, rent-backs, and other terms with your real estate agent to ease the transition.

Here at Fast Expert, our goal is to connect you with the top real estate agents in your area to guide your housing transition. Our platform matches you with local professionals who specialize in navigating between properties. With the right team support, you’ll bridge the gap seamlessly.

Find your perfect real estate agent with FastExpert.

Partner with trusted real estate and lending experts through FastExpert today. We match you with experienced professionals ready to assist with your unique transitional housing needs.

Kelsey Heath

Kelsey Heath is a real estate content specialist with an extensive background in residential, industrial, and commercial property. She has been involved in the industry for a decade as a professional and personal investor, gaining a deep understanding of the market and trends. With a passion for written communication, Kelsey loves helping people understand the sometimes-complicated concepts behind real estate and is now a sought-out guest and ghostwriter.

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