Every home buyer and seller would love a seamless transition from the old home to the new one. But trying to time the sale of your existing home with the purchase of a new one to avoid the dreaded double move or a period of homelessness is a tricky business -- especially when selling first is a condition of being able to buy.
But if you have to move out before you can move in, where will you live in between?
Unless you're fortunate enough to have family or friends willing to take you in temporarily, you'll have to pay to stay somewhere. That's easier said than done; even a tenant seeking a standard one-year lease has to shop around to find a suitable rental at an affordable price. Finding short-term housing takes some extra flexibility and creativity -- but it can be done. Here are several ways:
1. Off-season vacation home
If your closing date is after Labor Day, you may score a postseason summer home rental for a steal.
Pro. There is a wide variety of homes to choose from, many furnished.
Con. Summer communities such as those on the East End can be a bit isolated and inconvenient. "We have very little snow removal here," says Agnes Bristel of The Corcoran Group. "And be prepared for cabin fever." You'll likely have to permit showings for prospective summer tenants, she says.
Costs. It's not hard to find a three- or four-bedroom house in a summer community that rents for $3,000 per month or less in the winter. But don't forget to factor in extra gas or train fare if you'll have a longer commute to work or school.
Insider tip. Don't let your stay extend past the off-season, Bristel cautions. You'll have to vacate for the summer tenants, or wind up paying summer prices, which can be astronomical.
2. Post-possession agreement
If your buyers have a more flexible time frame than you, you may be able to remain in your old home for a period after your closing date.
Pro. You'll only have to move once.
Cons. It's risky for the buyer, so it may take some persuasion. And the agreement will be very strict. "If you don't leave and the buyer has nowhere else to go, then they have a problem and it gets ugly," says Baldwin attorney Chandra Ortiz, a member of the Nassau County Bar Association's Real Property Committee.
Costs. Typically you will pay the interest on the buyer's mortgage, the utilities and the taxes up until the day you vacate the premises.
Insider tip. To discourage overstaying, there's usually a hefty per diem penalty in place -- enough to make a hotel stay seem reasonable by comparison. So you'd better be sure you can be out when you say you can. "You may want to cushion it," Ortiz suggests.
3. Vacant house for sale
There are always sellers in the opposite position from yours -- they moved out before selling, leaving an empty house on the market. Many sellers will be more than happy to rent out a vacant property. The income helps them pay that extra mortgage, and your furnishings can help it show better, improving their chances of selling.
Pros. A house offers space and privacy -- a perk for families with kids or pets who need room to play. And a home seller may be more flexible about the length of your stay than a landlord with a permanent income property.
Cons. The double move will be costly, and there's no on-site help if something needs repair. Also, a home that's on the market will continue to be shown during your stay and could be sold at any time.
Insider tip. Homes for sale aren't always advertised as rentals; in fact, this option may not have occurred to some sellers who could benefit from it. So have your listing agent ask around to find one. "The rental market is very tight this year and sellers/landlords might do well to check out who is out there wanting to rent," says Alfred Kohart of Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty Dougall Fraser Division.
4. Apartment community
Both Nassau and Suffolk counties have rental communities that permit short-term leases or sublets for qualified tenants. "We'd qualify them the same way we'd qualify anybody else, with a credit check, criminal check -- the same things we'd run on anybody else," says David Berger, director of leasing for Fairfield Properties, which has several rental communities across Long Island.
Pros. There's on-site maintenance, and some have pools and other amenities.
Cons. You'll have to pay for two moves, and the monthly rate for a short-term lease tends to be more expensive than a longer one. Due to increased demand, short-term vacancies are hardest to find in the summer, Berger notes.
Costs. Currently, a two-month lease for a two-bedroom unit in the Avalon at Glen Cove rental community starts at $3,295 per month.
Insider tip. Although the monthly rent is typically higher for shorter stays, the rate will also depend on the inventory. "There are cases in which the short term could be more cost efficient," says Andrew Piliero, community manager of Avalon at Glen Cove. "If we have too many leases ending that month, we'll do a pricing advantage ... so if you're looking at three or four months, inquire about both."
5. Extended-stay hotel suites
These hotel suites are specially designed for longer stays. They're often roomier than a standard hotel room; many include work space with high-speed Internet and a kitchen area.
Pros. You'll have housekeeping service and possibly other hotel amenities like a pool.
Cons A hotel room -- even a spacious one -- can become uncomfortably close quarters after a while, especially for a whole family. Many suites hold a maximum of four guests.
Cost. Many have a special rate for 30-day stays or longer. At Extended Stay America in Bethpage, a studio starts at $89.99 a night and a four-guest studio suite with two double beds starts at $114.99 per night.
Insider tip. To make the most of your time and your budget, get a full list of services that are included with your package. There may be complimentary breakfasts, use of laundry and fitness facilities and even grocery delivery.
Stashing your stuff
If your temporary digs do not include storage, here are three options:
1. On the moving truck
If you'll be between homes for a matter of days, a moving company may allow you to keep your belongings on a truck overnight. There's a charge for each day the truck can't be used for another move -- for instance, it's $250 per night per truck at Long Island Moving and Storage in Plainview -- but that's a steal compared to moving twice, says owner Bobby Falvo. "You know your furniture is only being handled one time, so there's less chance for any damage. And you save the entire cost of another move," Falvo says.
2. An on-site storage container
You park the unit at your home and fill it up on your schedule. At PODS in Hauppauge, it costs about $215 per month to rent a 16-foot container -- a size that holds about three or four rooms' worth of stuff -- plus about $90 for delivery and fuel, including taxes, as of press time. When you're done packing up, you'll pay another delivery charge to have the company move the container to a storage center, and one more when they deliver it to your new home.
3. Self-storage facility
A 200-square-foot unit, which holds about seven rooms' worth of furniture plus boxes, starts at $253 per month at Safeguard Self Storage in Hewlett. But the big expense is the double move: If you need professional movers, you'll have to pay once for the move from your home to the storage facility and again to get it out of storage and into your new home.