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Avoiding the Top 6 Mistakes When Moving Up to a Larger Home in Metro Atlanta



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Upgrading to a spacious dream home can be an exhilarating experience. But this major life transition also comes loaded with potential pitfalls. As real estate agents assisting homeowners across metro Atlanta, we’ve seen clients encounter predictable mistakes when navigating the move-up process. Without proper planning, these errors can transform what should be a joyful event into a frustrating headache.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll outline the top 6 mistakes homeowners often make when moving up to a larger home. We’ll also provide actionable strategies tailored to sidestep these snags, so you can upgrade smoothly and stress-free.

Whether your motivations are gaining more square footage, upgrading amenities or finding a better neighborhood, this advice will help you avoid missteps. Ready to move up without the headaches? Let’s dive in!

Mistake #1 – Harboring Unrealistic Expectations

An eager couple visualizing a new home while daydreaming

When moving up the property ladder, it’s easy to become spellbound by the siren call of your “dream home.” Swept up in imagination and emotion, you may fall head over heels for listings well outside your budget or requiring extensive renovations. This disconnect between desire and reality often leads to disappointment when that perfect home sells quickly or demands major compromises.

For example, one client insisted her dream home was a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom farmhouse style on a wooded lot. But after previewing options in her price range, it became clear that prioritizing acreage and custom finishes would mean compromising on square footage or location. She had to adjust expectations on her must-have features before we could identify suitable homes aligning with her finances and needs.

Another client fell for a home needing cosmetic upgrades without fully calculating the costs, time and stress of taking on major renovations during a move. After touring a dozen homes requiring significant improvements, it sank in that a lightly updated home was a better fit for his situation. Though initially crestfallen when we redirected his search, he ultimately found a home he loved needing just a fresh coat of paint.

Strategies to Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

  • Consult experienced agents – We can provide objective insights on aligning your must-haves with your market and budget. Leaning on expertise prevents wishful thinking.
  • Get pre-approved – Knowing your firm mortgage amount keeps you grounded in financial reality. You won’t waste time touring homes you simply can’t afford.
  • Prioritize must-haves – Compromise on nice-to-haves to get your most important features – like location, layout, size and school district. Upgrades come later.
  • Consider light cosmetics – Look for homes requiring mostly paint, flooring and minor upgrades you can handle after moving in. Avoid extensive renovations.
  • Use virtual showings – Tools like video walkthroughs let you preview and evaluate listings online first before an in-person showing. This weeds out undesirable options efficiently.

The bottom line? Team up with trusted real estate advisors, get financially pre-approved, prioritize features judiciously and leverage technology to spotlight listings that realistically align with your situation. This prevents unrealistic expectations from sabotaging your move-up.

Mistake #2 – Neglecting Curb Appeal

A landscaper trimming bushes to improve a home's curb appeal

It’s often said you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. This maxim rings true when selling your current home to trade up. Failing to optimize your home’s curb appeal could cause some buyers to immediately write off your property when they pull into the driveway.

A home with dated decor, scuffed up floors, overgrown landscaping or clutter overwhelming its best features simply won’t show as well as a home conveying pride of ownership through thoughtful updating and TLC.

We’ve seen this play out repeatedly with sellers who ignore curb appeal. One client insisted her 50 year old home didn’t need any attention before listing. But peeling exterior paint, overgrown bushes and a tattered screen door whispered deferred maintenance to buyers. She had to slash her price significantly to attract an offer.

Another seller lamented that open houses felt “stale” with little buyer enthusiasm. But their interior was packed with overwhelming collections that obscured home features and made rooms feel small. Staging and decluttering could’ve worked wonders to highlight the home’s generous proportions and uncluttered decor.

Strategies to Boost Curb Appeal

  • Declutter – Thin out oversized furniture, stow away clutter and create a clean, neutral canvas showcasing your home’s best features.
  • Style simply – Limit personal photos and collections so buyers imagine their own style in the home. Light, bright and airy wins.
  • Refresh paint – A new neutral color palette has mass appeal and conveys your home is updated and move-in ready.
  • Tackle floors – Scratched hardwoods or stained carpets are deal breakers. Refinish or replace if needed.
  • Clean obsessively – From baseboards to ceiling fans, remove every speck of dust and grime before photography and showings.
  • Manicure the yard – Mow, weed, edge, trim trees and shrubs. Potted plants and flowers add a welcoming pop of color.
  • Improve exterior – Paint the front door, repair fences, seal driveways and refresh exterior paint if worn.
  • Consider staging – If your home shows dramatically better filled with furnishings, professional staging can be a smart investment.

Not convinced curb appeal matters? Remember that listing photos and the first impression at your open house set the tone for how buyers perceive your entire home. Don’t lose leverage by underestimating small aesthetic touches that pay big dividends.

Mistake #3 – Failing to Get Your Current House Sold First

A man holding two cardboard cutouts of houses, contemplating them both

Mistake #3 – Failing to Secure the Sale of Your Current House

When moving up, most agents recommend selling your current house before purchasing the new one. This avoids the headaches of coordinating two simultaneous transactions.

However, many sellers worry delaying their next purchase until completing the existing home sale means they’ll be left stuck if that sale falls through at the last minute.

This leads to problems like:

  • Struggling to perfectly sync the closing dates of both transactions
  • Possible financial strain of double mortgage payments if sales timelines overlap
  • Feeling pressure to accept a low offer on the current home to secure funds for the next purchase
  • Losing bargaining power on a new home if one surfaces before the current home sale finalizes

Essentially, sellers feel caught between selling first or buying first. However, securing the sale of your current home avoids this entire dilemma.

Benefits of Securing Your Home Sale Before Buying

  • Locks in sale proceeds – Guaranteed funds from your current house sale provides down payment for the new home without financing gaps.
  • Avoids double payments – Securing your sale means you won’t get stuck paying two mortgages if timelines get offset.
  • Provides control – With a secured sale, you control the timeline without pressure since proceeds are guaranteed.
  • Sheds sale risks – Selling first or guaranteeing your home will sell removes the risk of your sale falling through at the last minute.

You can secure your sale one of two ways:

1. Physically sell your home before first

Put your current home on the market and wait to finalize your next purchase until you have a secured buyer and closed sale.

2. Look for an agent that offers you a guaranteed sale program

For total peace of mind, go with an agent who will guarantee the sale of your home. Here’s how our Guaranteed Sale Program works:

  • We do a comprehensive market analysis of your home and agree upon the price at which it will sell
  • If for whatever reason we can’t sell your home for the agreed upon price, we’ll buy it ourselves or pay you the difference
  • You control the timeline without pressure since your sale is guaranteed.
  • We assume all selling risk so you can focus on your move.

With the risks and pressures lifted through a secured sale, you can move forward with your next purchase without feeling stuck between selling first or buying first.

Mistake #4 – Failing to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

A couple getting pre-approved for a home loan before beginning the home search

In the thrill of the hunt for new homes, many buyers overlook a simple step that provides a major competitive advantage – getting pre-approved for a mortgage before house hunting.

Pre-approval should not be confused with a basic pre-qualification based on verbal income and debts. True pre-approval involves completing a lender’s underwriting upfront using pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements to verify your credit, income, debts and downpayment funds.

This rigorous review results in a pre-approval letter that confirms not just what you can borrow, but that you meet automated underwriting requirements for that loan amount. It’s as close to a guarantee of loan approval as possible without submitting a property and formal application.

Some buyers worry pre-approval will ding their credit or trap them into using that lender. But hard credit pulls for pre-approval are soft pulls with no impact to your scores. And you have no obligation to obtain financing from the lender who pre-approves you.

So why route through this exercise before house hunting? Just take a look at the compelling advantages:

  • Proves your purchasing power – Hard confirmation of your maximum affordable loan amount prevents disappointment from touring homes outside your budget.
  • Verifies readiness – Shows sellers you are qualified and able to close on time with minimal hiccups.
  • Strengthens offers – Pre-approval letters carry more weight than pre-qualification and can make your offer stand out from equally priced competitors.
  • Saves time – Final underwriting goes faster having already validated key details upfront. Quick turnaround on final loan approval prevents closing delays.
  • Added bargaining power – Being pre-approved with a preferred lender gives you an edge to negotiate terms or closings dates.
  • Expedites closing – With heavy lifting done, you close faster by submitting approved documentation instead of starting underwriting from scratch.
  • Signals seriousness – Proving you are scrutinized and approved demonstrates you are a legitimate buyer ready to perform, not just tire kick.

Yet many buyers think pre-approval creates unnecessary extra steps. This proves overly optimistic at best. And at worst, naive. Solidifying your financing before shopping offers protection against being outbid and strategic advantages that more than justify the minor time invested upfront.

Mistake #5 – Failure to Coordinate Both Transactions

A calendar with "sell house" marked on a date with a red pin highlighting its importance

Once you have both a home to sell and a home to buy, lack of coordination between these two monumental transactions can undermine your move. Without seamlessly orchestrated timing, endless complications ensue.

Imagine your current home sale closes two weeks before your new home is ready. Where will you stay during this gap? What if the buyer of your current home needs to move mid-month before you’ve finalized your new home purchase?

Conversely, what if you must vacate your current home upon closing, but closing on your new property gets pushed back a week due to an appraisal delay? You might suddenly face moving your family into a short term rental you didn’t anticipate.

Poor planning around synchronizing the moving parts of two real estate transactions creates limbo, living out of boxes, unexpected expenses and frayed nerves. But adequate coordination flowing through an experienced agent can prevent this.

Tips for Seamless Transaction Coordination

  • Map ideal timelines – Project sale and purchase closing dates that sequence smoothly without gaps or overlaps.
  • Build in buffers – Pad extra time into estimated timelines to account for inevitable title or loan approval delays.
  • Leverage agent expertise – Lean on an agent who specializes in coordinating synchronized move timelines.
  • Loop in all parties – Keep lenders, attorneys and vendors updated on expected closing dates and moving plans.
  • Share schedules – Make your shifting move dates visible to all involved parties through shared calendars and ongoing communication.
  • Consider bridge financing – If gaps between closings loom, bridge loans can fund your mortgage in between.

While intricate logistics are involved, articulating expected timelines upfront and looping in the various professionals smooths the coordination process.

Mistake #6 – Disregarding Moving Preparations

A young couple having a hectic moving day as they prepare change houses

In the chaos of buying and selling simultaneously, it’s easy to underestimate wide ranging details involved in physically moving your family into a new home. Such a disruptive life event necessitates thoughtful preparation across many facets beyond real estate paperwork.

Not only is there the grunt work of packing and unpacking. But also changing schools, updating accounts, transferring services, securing childcare and storing excess belongings requiring their own planning. Novice movers often disregard these demands until the last minute, leading to 11th hour fires.

We coached one young family through a frantic week gap between closings where they had to pull overnight packing sessions while managing work and two young kids because they failed to account for effort involved. They admitted feeling overwhelmed and unprepared.

Strategies for Seamless Moving Logistics

Moving ranks among life’s top stressors. But careful orchestration minimizes headaches and eases the transition.

  • Create a master checklist – Plot out all essential moving tasks in order with assigned completion dates and owners for accountability.
  • Hire movers – Leave the heavy lifting to professionals with trucking equipment – and insurance in case of damages.
  • Purge, donate, sell – Eliminating unused items before packing lightens your load. Hold a garage sale and donate goods.
  • Arrange childcare – Schedule childcare during packing and moving days to keep kids out of harm’s way.
  • Notify key parties – Contact institutions like banks, employers, schools, etc. to begin address change procedures.
  • Set up mail forwarding – Temporary forwarding means you won’t miss important mail as you relocate.
  • Changeover utilities – Connect services at your new address and terminate unused ones at your old address.
  • Plan storage – For furnishings that won’t fit your new home right away, secure temporary storage until needed.

Major life changes naturally bring stress. But envisioning required steps and ensuring adequate time prevents moving from snowballing into a chaotic maelstrom.

Key Takeaways

  • Seek expert guidance on what’s realistic and financially suitable before you fall for a problematic “dream home.”
  • Prep your current home for sale with decluttering, renovations and staging so it shows in its best possible light.
  • Get your current home sold before purchasing your next home to better control timing and avoid financial strain.
  • Get pre-approved for mortgage financing to strengthen offers, speed closing timelines, and gain bargaining power.
  • Coordinate carefully with your agent to sequence both transactions without gaps or snags.
  • Plan meticulously for the moving process itself beyond just the real estate transactions.

While moving up comes with complexity, adequate preparation guided by seasoned advisors allows you to upgrade smoothly. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can sit back and enjoy your new home without unnecessary headaches!

Our team specializes in guiding clients flawlessly through the move-up process. We know the Atlanta real estate market inside and out, plus we have relationships with vendors who help execute coordinated moves. If you’re looking to upgrade smartly, contact us today to schedule your free consultation or home valuation. Here’s to upgrading to the home of your dreams!

About The Author

The Miskin Team

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