The Psychology of Selling a Home: Helping Sellers Deal with the Stress of Selling Their Home
Do otherwise sane people you know and love turn into Reagan, the little girl from The Exorcist, when it comes time to sell their house? Do you wonder, “Did I say something that set them off?” Or in extreme cases, “Is Mercury in retrograde again” because all of your clients are acting unrealistic at the same time?
As a new agent many years ago, having left an extremely stressful job in corporate technology sales, I thought Real Estate was going to be a breeze because I loved houses, furniture and different architectural styles. Easy street, right? Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate that I would become a therapist practicing without a license to my clients as they faced the stresses of preparing their home for sale, the showings, the contract negotiations and finally the closing. In the selling of their homes, my clients and I have shared births, deaths, suicides, divorces, downsizing, upsizing, promotions, losing their job and empty nest syndrome, to name a few.
The client that affected me the most, thus far, was the woman who had—in her eyes—lost everything in a divorce from a high-powered attorney. She was selling one of their investment properties that he gave her as part of the settlement, with no idea of where she would go. She wanted to sell it, because she’d lost her job and her children in the divorce and was in terrible debt and insisted that she rent after she closed. As I helped her stage her house, she looked at me one day and said in complete vulnerability, “Thank you for helping me. After my house sells, I have no reason to live, so I won’t get a long-term lease.” After inwardly gasping, I pulled something out of the recesses of my psyche and said in a very stern voice, “Kim, I don’t ever want to hear you talk like that. You have a great deal to live for because your daughters need to see you move past this and they will always need their momma.” It may have not been the perfect way to handle it, but it was the only way I knew. As I got in my car and as I drove away, I began to weep and cried for the next 12 hours from the emotional and physical exhaustion. It was the most gut-wrenching Realtor experience thus far.
Neither college nor any of my other jobs had prepared me for the psychological part of being a Realtor.
Many articles have been written on the stresses of moving. A recent poll suggests that selling your home is more stressful than getting divorced.
Because of my experiences and those of my fellow Realtors, my listing presentation now includes the topic of stress. My goal is to have the conversation upfront so we can revisit it, if we need to, at another time during the listing period. This list is on a word doc as an insert in my presentation.
Five Common Emotions Associated With Selling Your House and the Suggested Steps to Handle It
So you’ve made the decision to sell your home! Great! We are here to help you every step of the way with any project management required to get your home ready to sell, the staging, the showings, the contract negotiation, and the closing.
Because of our experiences, we also want to help you anticipate how you may feel during this process and help you find ways to manage these feelings of stress. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, although you’ll get the picture. Here are five common emotional reactions to the many stresses experienced along the real estate transactional pathway.
- Anxiety. It comes from change, any change. Everyone in the household will feel it, including your pets.
- Overwhelmed. Temporarily losing the ability to be grateful because the extra activities required of you as you make the upcoming change feel completely overwhelming.
- Helplessness or Despair. As you experience changes in anticipated plans because of things outside of your control — rain delays, contractors with car break downs, or your parent, child, spouse or even you falling ill may leave you feeling you will never get your house ready to go on the market.
- Anger. Tempers may get shorter as you feel the loss of control and the loss of the place you’ve called home.
- Sadness, Mourning or Grief. If this is the home that you brought your babies to after they were born, your first home as a married couple, the first home you purchased by yourself, the home where your parents lived before you put them in assisted living or there was a death, etc., you may have feelings of grief and sadness that may render you unable to make decisions.
When these feelings occur, it is a sign you need to reach out to our team, so we can understand how or why you are feeling the way you are. We will work with you to make the changes required to shift you to a more positive emotion and mindset.
As you approach this potentially stress-filled experience, here is our list of suggested activities to counter stress and remain positive. You are entering a partnership with Distinctive Atlanta Homes team and our mutual goal is getting you to your goal – the sale of your house!
- Deep breathing. We know breathing comes without saying however deep breathing allows more oxygen to get in your cells and can reduce the feelings of stress.
- Exercise. Find time to exercise. If you aren’t in the habit of daily exercise, plan a 15-minute walk three times a week or find a yoga class to practice that deep breathing mentioned above.
- Self-care/grooming. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have time to stop in order to get that manicure, pedicure, massage or haircut. Treating yourself to an hour of self-care will do wonders for your mental, physical and emotional well-being.
- Noting accomplishments. Make a list of the accomplishments throughout the process. Staying focused on the positive, even though there may be setbacks, will help your mental and emotional attitude.
- Humor. Saved the best for last. Laughing has been researched as a way to reduce blood pressure and stress. Watch You Tube videos of comedy acts you love, go to a comedy club or just look for humor in all things. It will make your experience that much more fun and palatable.
- Eat right! Well worth repeating: less sugar, more protein and veggies will give you the brain power and stamina you are going to need to manage any unanticipated stresses.
- Trust our team! The Distinctive Atlanta Homes team is here to help you through the process of selling your home as your partner. Raise the white flag when you start feeling that your “boat is getting overloaded with fish.” Communication is key and we are committed helping you make your stress manageable.
We are honored to be your partner through this experience. Thank you for the opportunity!
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