When listing your house for sale it’s important to decide when the best time to start packing and moving will be. Depending upon your unique situation, there are three times to choose from: before the sale, during the sale, or after your home goes under contract. There are pros and cons to each scenario.

Family moving home and carrying cardboard boxes

Before the sale

If you are in a financial situation to move before listing your home, this is the easiest way to prepare your home for the market. Moving before you list your home allows you time to paint walls, replace any flooring, and complete any other repairs or upgrades your home requires. It’s never fun to live in a home during renovations. If you choose to move before selling, be sure to either have the home staged or leave some furniture to stage your vacant home. Moving before the listing of your home also means you won’t have to constantly maintain the house or be inconvenienced with showings. 

The obvious drawback to moving before you put your home up for sale is buying another home to live in. Carrying two mortgages and utilities can be a heavy financial burden. Also, keep in mind if the sale takes longer than you expected, market prices could potentially drop. Buyers choosing this option are taking a risk financially.

Happy family holding poster of a house for sale

During the sale

A second option is moving before the settlement date. This would mean you stay in your home while it is still on the market and throughout the closing process. In this scenario, you should wait until the  following 4 contingencies have cleared between you and the buyer.


After completing the property inspections, the buyer is allowed to renegotiate or withdraw their offer based on any inspection findings.

Clean Title

This is a seller contingency. As long as the seller can provide a clean title, the buyer has no grounds to renegotiate or withdraw.


The buyer may renegotiate or withdraw their offer upon competition of the appraisal if it comes in at below purchase price.

Loan Guarantee or Letter of Commitment (LOC)

Until the buyer provides the seller with the LOC within the LOC timeframe, the buyer can negotiate or withdraw their offer based on the buyer’s lender’s lack of ability to provide a guarantee of the loan. 

Sellers choosing this option should declutter their home before putting it on the market. Putting personal items that are not everyday necessities in storage helps your home look cleaner and larger. Generally, it’s safe to assume that the time between contract signing and closing is about 30 days. However, if the housing market is unusually busy as it has been recently lenders, home inspectors, and appraisers can get backed up.

Happy family packing dishes together in their living-room for their removal


Moving out after your home is sold is another option. In this scenario, sellers settle the sale of the home and rent it from the new owners for up to 60 days. These situations are usually incorporated into the home sale contract. The rent you would pay the new owners is generally the new owner’s monthly mortgage payment. This is a popular choice for sellers whose new home will not be ready for move-in by the closing of the home sale. Choosing this scenario has both benefits and drawbacks and it is important to have a clear understanding between both parties of boundaries and what you need the rent-back to look like. 


When selling your home, you need to weigh the pros and cons to each situation and decide when is the best time to move. There are benefits and drawbacks to all three scenarios. 

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Considering Selling Your Home? Learn more about what Covid-19 means for the market.

Khalil El-Ghoul

"Thanks for reading! I’m passionate about empowering home buyers and sellers with professional advice and unbiased information, throughout the real estate transaction. Unlike most agents, I always put clients first. When it comes to negotiating, marketing homes, and sealing the deal, I’ve got the experience and knowledge you’re looking for. If you have any questions about moving to VA, D.C., or MD, don’t hesitate to reach out."