Addressing seller’s remorse |

Addressing seller’s remorse

Sean and Aimee McDonald

A considerable amount of attention in real estate has historically been given to homebuyer’s remorse, but seldom are discussions focused on the phenomenon of seller’s remorse. Both buyers and sellers alike may experience anxiety resulting from a decision to purchase or sell a home. Buyers often begin to experience remorseful feelings during the initial stages of a real estate transaction. However, for sellers, the resultant emotional considerations oftentimes manifest much later in the process.

As soon-to-be former homeowners prepare to move, the decision to sell and the resultant decisions that follow typically make separation from their old home easier. But, for remorseful sellers struggling to come to terms with the prospect of selling, the separation can be harder. Some may impulsively act upon their anxiety, a decision which oftentimes proves costly. Remorseful sellers sometimes go to great lengths to prevent the transfer of their home. However, a buyer’s response to a seller’s desire to back out of a contract is usually far from one of understanding.

There are many reasons why a seller may experience remorse, and yet emotional connections are usually a catalyst for a homeowner’s regret in selling. Whether promulgated by an impulsive decision to move, financial loss, an inability to find a better home, a failure to achieve full asking price, a life changing event, or simply the act of separating from memories of the past, the values homeowners place upon their homes are undeniable factors. For many, there’s a feeling of security in established routines and selling a home means a departure from familiarity and a fear of the unknown.

Typically, when homebuyers purchase a home, they begin to formulate new beliefs and aspirations of what the future may hold. Conversely, when most homeowners sell, they separate themselves from the past. As to be expected, sellers become homebuyers and a role reversal naturally occurs.

But, those who have had a tough time separating themselves from their home may overcome any feelings of regret by focusing on the possibilities. Sellers who establish emotional connections with their future are less apt to be overwhelmed by feelings of loss. Unfortunately, those struggling to separate ties may find envisioning a transition into their new home to be a disconcerting endeavor.

Successful sellers have well-defined reasons when committing to list their homes for sale. Whether they’ve decided to right-size their living space, relocate, or seek to sell for other personal reasons, those who have adequately planned and made educated decisions about selling and buying are better equipped to undertake the emotional challenges they’ll likely encumber. Ultimately, sellers who remain focused on the offerings of their new home will find it easier to detach from their old home.

Remaining positive is key. When in doubt, sellers who are unsure about selling should reexamine the reasons why they originally chose to put their home on the market.

Prospective home sellers often choose to list based on real estate market trends and demands; however, the decision to sell must also remain a personal choice. If a homeowner isn’t emotionally ready to move on, it’s advisable they wait. But, if a homeowner has decisively made the commitment to sell, and later find themselves at odds with their decision, they should reflect on the reasons why they were motivated to list in the first place. They’re likely to find their decision was correct given their respective wants and needs.

Homeowners are encouraged to consult with an experienced real estate professional prior to committing to sell. Sellers having a vested emotional interest in the sale of their homes and who retain the ability to influence outcomes are less apt to question their decisions. When a competitive offer to purchase is received, sellers should celebrate, appreciating the memories they’ve made and encouraged by the experiences yet to come.

Yet, sellers must also be certain they’re ready to commit to selling when they list their home on the market and even more so when they’ve accepted an offer. Contractually bound homeowners who have agreed to sell are cautioned to remain steadfast in their decision. There are litigious consequences that can result from a failure to perform on a contract and sellers are usually best served in following through with their agreement. When in doubt, a homeowner should seek the guidance of an attorney familiar with real estate law.

Arguably, agreeing to sell can be an emotional experience, but homeowners mustn’t forget the reasons why they’ve chosen to do so. In effect, the process of depersonalizing the home and packing away items can serve as means of closure. To that end, owners who are planning to sell are best served in viewing their homes as a product to be sold and no longer as their personal residence. Such actions have the effect of helping sellers sever emotional ties, while also allowing them to make necessary preparations serving to attract prospective homebuyers. And, while it’s natural to experience seller’s remorse, negative feelings can typically be overcome by embracing forthcoming opportunities.

Sean and Aimee McDonald, Realtors with RE/MAX North Lake Tahoe, can be reached at 775-250-8335 or