Selling your home when it’s hard to let go

Janey Bishop
Janey Bishop
Published on August 16, 2021

Letting go can be brutal. Often, we have no choice, such as when it’s time for our kids to leave the nest, or we decide to leave a relationship that has soured.

It is often the same for homeowners when they decide to sell their homes. For some, letting go of a home isn’t just divesting themselves of a structure, but also from the lifestyle it represents, the memories made under that roof – all that life lived in it.

Selling a home can be an emotionally-charged transaction, but it doesn’t have to be. If you can put your emotions aside for a time and realize that the sale of your home is a business transaction —and stay in that mindset— you’ll avoid the pitfalls we see some home sellers contend with.

Those pitfalls

There are several commonalities among home sellers who are attached to their homes. The first is that they tend to overvalue it compared to other homes for sale.

It’s important to keep in mind that what you feel the home is worth may not be the same as the value the buyer puts on it. Then, there’s the appraiser’s valuation. You may not get the full return on money spent on projects especially if they were completed a few years ago. 

There will almost always be buyers coming in with lowball offers. These buyers aren’t intentionally insulting you, but treating the transaction for what it truly is, a business deal. Ditto when buyers appear to be criticizing your taste in décor, by proposing to remove the wallpaper in the kitchen or for new flooring.

No home is ideal for everyone, not even yours. When you approach the sale with less emotion, you’ll be better able to let these unintentional slights roll off your shoulders.

Vow to be flexible

If your attachment to your home is strong, it’s easy to talk yourself into little ways that may sabotage the sale. 

Take showings, for instance. We’ve seen some sellers who become completely unreasonable when an agent requests a showing. Yes, we know how very challenging it is to keep a home spotless while “real life” carries on (pets, guests, projects, etc.) especially with short notice.

Remind yourself that as busy as life is, if you want to sell the home you must be accommodating to buyers. Take some deep breaths, straighten the chaos and take the pets to the park.

An offer is just an offer, not an insult

There is a reason you may be intensely emotionally attached to your home. Whether it’s because of the memories it holds, the hard work it took to get it to its current condition or something else, this attachment can cloud your judgment.

Seldom is this more evident than when entertaining offers from buyers. As mentioned earlier, many homeowners who are attached to their homes treat a simple request, such as for new flooring or a minor repair, as a personal affront.

Remember, your home is perfect for you, but it may not be for everyone. The buyers certainly don’t mean to be insulting. Even lowball offers can cause defensiveness. Keep in mind that an offer is just an offer and selling your home is a business transaction.

And, by the way, in a more normal market, a lowball offer may be worth negotiating. Put on your business hat so we can work together on a solution.

Additional coping strategies

Houses that were perfect for a particular phase of your life may not fit right now. Big yards are great for kids but not as good a fit for an empty nester who wants to travel. So it is important to find the home that fits your needs in your current situation. 

Really analyze your desired lifestyle and whether it includes a home you can “pack and go”, one that requires little regular maintenance or one near family, friends or a favorite recreation like golf or the ocean. It’s more about finding the home that fits your needs best, based on your current situation.

I suggest that you keep your focus on your ‘why.’ That may be a particular lifestyle you crave, living closer to your children and grandkids or to have a snappier commute. Keep that ‘why’ top-of-mind.

Take photos of the home, especially those areas where you spend the most time and have built the most memories. Some homeowners will take a favorite lighting fixture or plant from the garden to plant at their new home (let me know if this is your plan because we’ll have to move the plant to a pot or change the fixture before the home goes on the market).

Then, change your focus. Focusing on the future during the sale process is one way to alleviate that panicky feeling many get when they begin dwelling on the loss of their home.

Look to the future instead – where you’re going next, how you’ll furnish and use your next home.

Get excited about what lies ahead.

For a free consultation about selling your family home in Woodland Hills, Calabasas, West Hills or the San Fernando Valley      Call Janey Bishop   (818)570-1144     email [email protected]    or watch my videos at  https://janeybishop.video/Empty-Nest-Downsizing-Playlist

Senior Real Estate Specialist     Probate Certified        Real Estate Collaboration Specialist – Divorce

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