Behind a Smooth Transition

It takes skill and focus to help clients juggle selling and buying at the same time.

October 28, 2015

Changing Circumstances

When Nikki Henshaw divorced her husband of 17 years in October 2014, the 2,800-square-foot Houston home they had shared with their two sons became too costly and time-consuming for her to maintain. But Henshaw had trouble wrapping her mind around selling it and then buying a new home, along with raising children on her own and settling the details of her messy split. “I was completely overwhelmed by the changes going on in my life, so the thought of getting a house market-ready [on my own] wasn’t something I could make a fair effort to do,” she says.

Henshaw leaned on her real estate agent, Trisha Hope of Logos Investment Properties in Kemah, Texas, to smooth her transition from one home to the next. Henshaw was particularly anxious about the possibility of having to move quickly, which would add stress for her and her children. She relied on Hope to negotiate sales contracts with both buyers and sellers that would build in a comfortable amount of time to move.

Bidding wars were common in Henshaw’s market, which worked for her as a seller. But when she submitted an offer on a townhouse that was contingent on the sale of her home, she was at a disadvantage. “As a contingency buyer in that kind of market, it can be almost impossible,” says Hope, who convinced the sellers they were at minimal risk because Henshaw already had multiple offers on her home.

Meanwhile, Hope worked with the buyers of Henshaw’s home to draw up a sale contract that included a two-week leaseback agreement. That gave Henshaw an extra two weeks after closing to prepare for the move. “What I expected would be one of the hardest transactions during my divorce ended up being the most refreshing,” Henshaw says. “The timing of all this seemed impossible at one point, but we were hopeful and prepared so that our efforts would pay off. Trisha was positive and calm, which helped me manage my own stress level.”

Space Planning

Rose Garcia-Svejcar and her husband, Jeremy Svejcar, built their first home years ago in a section of Rio Rancho, N.M., that was mostly undeveloped at the time. They sought it out for the open, quiet surroundings. But as new construction started popping up all around them, the area lost its luster. “The open space we were used to filled up with more homes and more people, so we needed a little elbow room,” Garcia-Svejcar says.

Last summer, they decided to put their home on the market and look for a place in the more remote mountains outside Rio Rancho. Their target area was more than an hour away, and they soon found they had no time to dedicate to a long-distance home search while in the midst of selling.

The couple’s agent, Alayna Setter, a sales associate with Keller Williams Realty in Albuquerque, N.M., created a plan that freed them up to house hunt but also kept them involved in the sale of their home. Setter scheduled open houses for the couple’s home on days when they were free to take day trips to the mountains to tour homes on the market. She emphasized that they should spend their time discovering what they needed in a home so they would be ready to move quickly once theirs sold.

“Alayna really calmed our nerves and set realistic expectations as to when and how we should look at homes while we were selling,” Garcia-Svejcar says. At the same time, Setter coached the couple to take on certain responsibilities when they weren’t house hunting, such as how to handle late-night calls from agents wanting to schedule last-minute showings. “They came to better respect the buying and selling process, and that helped them to juggle things more efficiently and get prepared to move quickly,” Setter says.

The advice Setter gave them during their home search helped them pinpoint a home they were ready to buy as soon as their house was sold in July. Just a couple weeks later, they closed on both transactions. “Alayna pushed us but also had our best interest at heart,” Garcia-Svejcar says. “She really set us up for success

Graham Wood
Executive Editor of Digital Media

Graham Wood is Executive Editor of Digital Media for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at