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Sell to Open vs Sell to Close

  • By Jenna Gleespen
  • Jan 11, 2023
Sell to Open vs Sell to Close

Sell-to-open and sell-to-close orders are among the most important terms in options trading. They involve one of the core components of options strategies: opening or closing a transaction. But what are the differences between sell to open vs sell to close? Read on to find out.

What Is a Sell to Open?

A sell-to-open order is an instruction you can use in the stock market to sell or short option contracts.

An option contract gives you the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell shares of a particular security at a specific price within a predetermined time frame.

Using sell-to-open orders is a common way to initiate a short position in the stock market

Short positions allow you, as an investor, to earn money if the price of a stock declines but lose money if prices rise.

Sell to Open vs Sell to Close

A sell-to-open order instructs your brokerage firm to sell shares or contracts you do not already own.

When placing the order, you need to specify the number of shares or contracts you want sold and the price at which they are to be sold.

The brokerage firm executes your sell-to-open order as orderly as market conditions allow.

What Does Sell to Close Mean?

Sell-to-close is a term that refers to closing out an option purchased for the account.

This transaction involves selling the options contract to cut losses or increase profits by offsetting a position.

When trading options contracts, traders looking for gains typically buy a call option and sell a put option. 

They also buy put options and sell call options if they are looking to hedge stock positions.

selling the options contract

Traders should be aware of the risk associated with trading in this market before they decide to go forward.

Because there is always a chance that an option will expire worthlessly, investors can lose money by holding it until maturity.

The loss can also be avoided if the investor sells the option before expiration.

What Is the Difference Between Sell to Close and Buy to Close?

Sell-to-close and buy-to-close are options trade phrases brokerages use for short position openings.

Sell-to-close is a way for an investor to sell their shares, but only after the share market price has increased in value.

This is used when you want to profit from a stock increasing in value but not as a hedge against the stock going down in value.

Buy-to-close is a strategy used when you own shares and want to exit that position.

This type of trade is performed after an investment has gone up or down in value and can be used as a hedging strategy.

Sell to Open vs Sell to Close

If you think the underlying asset has fallen in value, you can use a buy-to-close order to limit your losses.

Sell-to-close and buy-to-close are types of options contracts, not stock trading strategies in and of themselves.

The effectiveness of both depends heavily on the type of option that was traded and the outlook for the stock price of the underlying security.

What Is the Difference Between Sell to Open and Buy to Open?

When you sell to open, you are opening a position in the market by selling first.

In other words, you are entering a trade with the expectation that the price will go down within a certain period.

Conversely, when you buy to open, you enter into a trade with the expectation that the price will increase within a specific time.

There is no guarantee that either sell-to-open or buy-to-open orders will produce the desired results.

Price movement within the market can be challenging to predict, and it is possible that you could end up losing money on either type of trade.

However, understanding which direction the price is likely to go at a particular moment can help guide your decision-making when trading.

Can You Sell to Close at Any Time?

Yes, you can sell to close your position at any point before expiration.

This allows you flexibility in closing out any unwanted contracts before they expire, which can come in handy if you take a position and the market direction changes before expiration.

If you find that you have placed a contract in error or it’s not going in your favor, remember that you can sell to close any time you want before it expires.

Final Thoughts

In options trading, you can “sell to open” or “sell to close.”

If you sell to open, it means you are selling the option to enter into a position. 

On the other hand, if you “sell to close,” it means you already have a position and are selling your option to exit the trade.

Whether you are investing as a novice or seasoned trader in the stock market, it is essential that you understand these different types of stock market orders and how they can support your investment strategies.

 

Read more: Buy to Open vs Buy to Close

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Jenna Gleespen is a published author and copywriter specializing in personal and investment finance. Her expertise is in financial product reviews and stock market education.