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The Cost of Selling a Home You're Not Ready to Separate From

Over my 25 years in real estate, I have seen firsthand how emotions can influence the home selling process. Too often selling a home is an unintended consequence of something else, like divorce, financial difficulties, etc.

Sellers (and their agents) should recognize the emotional side of the sale process. Ignoring these emotions won't make the process easier and can have costly consequences. Sellers who haven’t emotionally separated from their space confuse sentimental value with real dollars causing them to over value their home. This slows the process and can result in less money and more carrying cost (such as mortgage payments, taxes, etc.).

Similarly, some sellers just want out! But underpricing your property for a quick sale isn’t usually the best solution. I’ve worked with sellers who play matchmaker with their homes and want just the right buyer. The pitfalls of being too attached to your home can cost you REAL money and time.

So how do you make that psychological break? I’m not a therapist, but I can share with you some of my thoughts based on my experience. First, it's essential to recognize that humans attach memories to spaces. Just like a song can trigger a memory and/or emotional response, so can a special place. We've all shared so many meaningful moments in our homes. These memories and emotions are real, but they live outside of the walls of your home. Memories exist in our hearts and minds, they are a shared experience, something intangible that lives forever and apart from the space.

Moving away doesn’t erase the memory or make it any less real. Recognize that you're feelings are genuine but also focus on the positive changes ahead. For instance, if selling you're home for financial reasons, it might be helpful to focus on how much better your financial situation will be at the end of the sale. No more stress of trying to make the mortgage or the constant repairs and maintenance.

Recognize that your home is moving on too. The new buyers may be nothing like you and your family, and that’s okay. They will represent a new beginning for your home. If you're worried they will change things that have sentimental value to you, remember new tenants breathe new life into homes, which may mean your house will have a longer and more useful life.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when selling a house that you aren't ready to move on from yet. First, the process might be emotional. You'll look in places you haven't in a long time and find treasured mementos like your children's art or an old photo album. If you know this will be a difficult process for you, make it a party. Invite friends and family to come over and help you organize. Sharing those memories can be a significant first step toward moving on.

Listen to your real estate agent. You hired them for a reason. They have experience and expertise and are negotiating in your best interest. A good agent will give you a fact-based assessment of your home's value and consider other factors, like your timeframe. Sometimes this is welcomed news, and sometimes it is disappointing. But your personal memories don’t increase the sales price unless you're famous enough that the new owners will want to hang a sign saying you slept there.

Don’t try to be a matchmaker. Some sellers have expectations for the new owner. A potential buyer might want to tear down a wall or cut down the tree you planted in the backyard. Would you rather have the wall in a house you don't live in anymore or sell the house for the most money? You won't live there anymore; what the new buyers do, or don't do, shouldn't matter. Don't refuse an offer just because the new owners or their plans don’t meet your expectations.

Negotiate with your best interest in mind. Consider the cost of pricing your home under or over its’ true value. Is a quick sale worth a few thousand dollars? Conversely, If you put it on the market at a price over its value, it might scare off buyers or set their expectations to high. Either way, it generally means it will take much longer to sell your house and, in the end, you really only get what it is worth. Trust your agent. If they believe it’s a good offer - it's more than likely a good offer. If you don’t trust them to make that assessment, you should consider hiring a new agent.

Finally, understand that the sale of a home is a transaction. It may come with a lot of emotion and stress, but in the end, it comes down to cashing in your investment, and you're entitled to the best return possible. So don’t let your emotions cheat you out of your cash.

360Berkshire Realty Group

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