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July Blog


5 Emotional Hot Points to Expect When Selling a Home

Posted on July 19, 2017


Selling a home is not an easy process, but for Doris and Guy, 70ish, it was especially hard. They’d been living in their home 22 years and had no immediate plans to sell. Then, a health issue (Guy’s) forced their hand.


We arrived for our appointment and walked through their home, a simple, single-level 1970s ranch home typical of that era. The house had a vaulted living room, a dining room that preceded the kitchen, and bedrooms and bathrooms at the end of the hall.


We pointed out what to store, how to stage, what to expect in appraiser and photographer visits, and more. Then we stepped out on the back deck and stopped mid-sentence.


Guy had transformed their traditional city yard into a lush, green oasis. Leafy plants hugged water fountains. Wooden benches dimpled the greenery and invited meditation. A path wound through the garden to the storage shed, camouflaged as a dappled-red tiny home.


That was when we knew how emotionally hard this process would be for our sellers.


We also knew we could help by sharing what was ahead and how to navigate it.


5 Emotional Hot Points to Expect When Selling a Home

Sadness and Grief

When selling a home, you are often saying farewell to a lifestyle, community and neighbors you’ve known for years. The physical sorting can trigger both excitement about the future and regrets or sadness about the past.


Often, other losses, related to finances, health, divorce or death, can make the sadness unbearable at times.


Alan Wolfelt, a national grief expert, encourages those who are facing loss to realize there are two stages: mourning and grieving. Mourning involves emotionally processing the event, such as by journaling. Grieving involves taking an outward action to ritualize the loss, such as by taking a final walk in the old neighborhood.


Sheer Physical Overwhelm

Putting a home on the market demands a lot of energy. There is cleaning and sorting. There are garage sales to host, and trips to the local charity to make. There are, often, friends to say farewell to and beloved possessions to gift.


All of this activity is in addition to living your normal life—working, sleeping, eating and socializing.


To minimize the emotional tailspin that physical exhaustion often triggers:

  • Continue your exercise regime
  • Sit quietly once a day to dream or meditate about the next chapter
  • Call friends and family for emotional and/or physical support
  • Treat yourself to small indulgences, such as a mid-day coffee break

Fear of the Unknown

The real estate sales cycle includes three periods: 1) preparing the home and putting it on the market, 2) waiting for an offer, and 3) performing multiple tasks, such as inspections, during the escrow period to closing.


Needless to say, the second stage is the most difficult.


In this liminal space—which typically lasts 14-45 days today—there are a lot of unknowns. Should you pack or wait? What will you do if your home doesn’t sell? What will you do if it does? What if the inspection reveals a major structural issue?


As agents, our goal is to minimize that in-between time.


We also advise clients to use that time wisely:

  • Imagine all the possibilities that could result from selling your home
  • Create a back-up plan in the unlikely event your home doesn’t sell
  • Imagine in detail a different life regardless of what happens

Feelings of Vulnerability

When a house has been put on the market, sellers want to be present for home inspections and showings. In many ways, they are opening up a part of themselves—their very personal homes—to strangers. That can be a vulnerable place for sellers.


But it is a necessary place. And, from a practical perspective, it’s not in a seller’s best interest to be present when others are viewing a home.


With showings, as agents, we can remain objective about the house. We can also direct the buyer to a home’s most attractive features based on his/her specific needs.


With inspections, both sellers and agents must disclose what they know about a home to a potential buyer. So, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you.”


Our advice to sellers during this phase: know that opening your home to others is a necessary part of letting go. Trust that and go see a movie!


Aging and Mortality

Our sellers are often 55+ and are downsizing. And while many are excited about the opportunity to live more simply, there is also a larger shadow lurking: the reality of aging and mortality.


But aging does not have to be depressing. Indeed, Betty Friedan, in The Fountain of Age,offers multiple examples of older adults who are finding new careers or flourishing in existing ones at 70, 80 and 90 years of age.


Older adults are also giving back in ways that weren’t possible earlier in life due to career and family responsibilities.


What is your vision for the next chapter?


To protect our clients’ privacy, anecdotes shared are based on true stories; however, names and specifics have been changed and/or combined into composites.


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