retirement

Flexibility needed in soft house market

We are hoping to move from New Jersey to a less expensive, more tax-friendly state once my husband is eligible to collect Social Security in a little less than two years.

However, the move will be predicated on our selling our house to use the proceeds to purchase another one. We have pets and a large quantity of personal property (none of which my husband is willing to part with), so renting once we sell our New Jersey home isn't a viable option.

How best do we effect a smooth transition without winding up with two mortgages -- something we cannot afford? We do have enough saved to make a down payment on a new place, and our credit is sterling.
Linda Mihatov
Layton, NJ

Linda,
 Luckily, your move is two years away, so you have some time to plan here.

Sure, the real estate market is pretty bleak now, but things may very well be on the up and up by the time you're ready to sell. A lot of the people who are having trouble selling these days aren't pricing or presenting their properties optimally. When the time comes to sell, you want to make sure you do your research.

Hit a few open houses in your area to find out what similar houses are selling for, and really try to look at your home from an outsider's point of view. Sure, the memories it holds make it more valuable in your eyes, but they don't mean anything to a potential buyer. If the market is still rocky, you've priced it right and you still have trouble selling, try throwing in an extra that's popular these days, like covering the closing costs.

That said, I wouldn't wait too long to put it on the market.

I don't buy your argument that renting is not an option. Your large amount of personal property can be put in storage. And you'll find a place that takes your pets -- as long as they are clean and well-trained. Explain to your husband that he's going to have to be a little flexible in the short-term in order to make your long-term plan a reality and not saddle yourself with a double-mortgage nightmare.

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