They may not need as much hand-holding as first-time buyers, but move-up buyers have plenty to learn before they can move into their bigger, more expensive home. (iStock)

Most real estate advice is addressed to first-time home buyers, but move-up buyers need a little help, too, says Morgan Knull, an associate broker with Re/Max Associates in Washington. Even though these are repeat buyers and, therefore, have experienced at least one real estate transaction before, that doesn’t mean they know all there is to know about making the transition to a larger or more expensive home.

Knull offers the following tips for move-up buyers:

  • Don’t renovate until speaking with a trusted agent. Nothing is more disappointing than a prospective seller’s home improvements that miss the mark and don’t add resale value.
  • Explore ways to swing buying first, then selling. Bridge loans don’t commonly exist, but home equity lines can let you tap the existing property for down payment to use on the purchase. Lenders can help figure out how to financially engineer a buy-then-sell scenario.
  • Don’t delude yourself. No seller is eager to accept a purchase offer with a “buyer to sell existing home” contingency. Often, it’s a non-starter for sellers. If it’s not practical to buy first, think about getting the existing home under contract with a 60-day post-settlement occupancy (a.k.a. “rent back”). That affords time to go home shopping with the confidence that the existing home already is on its way to settlement.
  • If you don’t already, watch HGTV. If it has been more than a couple of years since last buying a home, you’ll discover that your Corian countertop isn’t cutting-edge anymore. It’s helpful to see your home through the eyes of a generation of home buyers schooled by the home improvement network.
  • Plan in advance, if possible. Selling a house isn’t effortless. Neither is buying one. It can take weeks or months to prepare an existing home for sale by decluttering and refreshing the cosmetics. Contractors often have a scheduling backlog. At the same time, begin to passively research purchase options online and by attending open houses. Make sure that you really want to move.
  • Clean up any credit blemishes. The time to rectify errors or blemishes on your credit is before you start actively shopping for a new home. Ask a trusted lender to run your credit report (or run it yourself) to confirm accuracy.