Trading houses: How to buy & sell homes at the same time

by Bob Hummer 10/10/2023

House trading is a type of real estate transaction both buyers and sellers find simpler and more convenient than traditional buying and selling. While the exchange isn't quite as simple as swapping keys and moving in right away, there can be advantages for those wishing to make a quicker change.

However, a home trade-in program isn't right for everyone. Real estate agents can assist with the process, but it can still be complicated if the timing doesn't work out perfectly.

So, how can you know if trading is the right option?

Definition of a "trade-in house"

The terms "trade-in" refer to the swapping of real estate property. The trade-in program allows sellers to find the best replacement home for the home they want and stay in their first property.

Trade-in programs eliminate the pressure of locating and selling a property to live in, staying in a hotel or renting a house to move. In addition, the purchaser does not have an obligation to coordinate the sale or buy of a new house.

How it works

Simply put, swapping properties is like buying or selling your home to someone. However, rather than having only one transaction, you have two transactions – one selling the home and one buying. Each house is assigned to a separate buyer and seller.


It's simple to sell to make money through trading versus purchasing. Both the purchaser and seller can avoid real estate commissions when they are not represented by a real estate agent.

When you trade houses, you can avoid the hassle of paying for storage of furniture and other items while you wait for a sale to go through. It also makes it easier to get financing: as long as you have a contract in place to sell your home, your current mortgage payments won't count against your income.


The main disadvantage of trading houses is you're likely to have fewer options to choose from compared to a traditional home search. While size and features might be the same, you may not end up in the exact location you prefer.

Another possible downside is if timing doesn't work out perfectly, you could potentially have to pay two mortgages at once during the overlap.

There are many scenarios where trading homes can be a quick and painless transaction. However, it's important to consider the downsides as well as the advantages. Consulting a real estate agent about your options is the best way to begin if you're not sure which way to go.

About the Author

Bob Hummer

Bob Hummer brings a wealth of experience with him; a practitioner in real estate in Northern Virginia since 1978, a Life Member of both the Million Dollar Sales Club and the Top Producers Club with over 2,500 Satisfied Families and President, Prince William Association of REALTORS in 1991. His experiences range from helping buyers and sellers attain their goals; to renovating historic homes on Capitol Hill; to counseling and assisting homeowners facing the loss of their home due to foreclosure. Since 1996, he has presented his free monthly Home Buyer and Home Seller seminars at the Woodbridge campus of Strayer University. In June 2023 he completed the Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist course and was awarded the designation CPRES. His goal is to assist individuals who inherited real estate and wish to sell. A former "Military Brat" and a retired Air Force Hospital Administrator, Bob has made more than 26 moves during his life and is extremely familiar with all aspects of a family relocating - whether it is across the street or across the nation.