9 Stops: The Seller’s Emotional Roller Coaster

HouseLogic, the resource for home improvement, maintenance, taxes, finance, insurance, etc. from the National Association of REALTORS©, just produced a video showing sellers the emotional steps of selling a home. Watching it made me feel like I was an E-Ticket ride at Disneyland - a mix of ups and downs, and a bit of dread balanced with euphoria. A link for the 75-second video clip is at the bottom of this post.

As your Bainbridge Realtor, I strive to reduce fright from the home selling process while helping sellers maintain focus on the exhilarating part of selling: success at the closing table and elation moving on to the next phase of life.

Let’s take a look at the stages of the ride. Remember to check your safety bar.

1. Excitement

Akin to standing in line for the roller coaster, preparing to sell your home can overwhelm you; getting ready for the unknown and knowing you cannot control every move once leaving the station is unnerving at best. This stage can last months, or years. Take time to focus on the exciting aspects of moving on to your next phase: the ups, while surrounding yourself with the right people to support you through the harder aspects of the process- the downs. I pride myself in my ability to listen to you so I can help you strategically plan the steps needed to assure success at closing.

If selling is a few years away, consider making some updates to enjoy in the meantime and give value later. This blog post has some insight on how to invest wisely.

And to learn how I will use 21st Century technology to tell your home’s story to attract the next excited owner, read this post.

2. Anxiety

Without a doubt, there is a lot at stake here. It’s likely your home is one of your largest assets and how you feel about your retirement may rely in part on how much value your home holds. I encourage you to hire a Realtor early in the process to help answer questions, give an opinion of value based on recent comparable sales and, most importantly, clarify the steps of the selling process and help you set up a time line to accomplish it in manageable pieces. If you have time on your side, take advantage of it.

For a sneak peek at the preparation process, read this post.

3. Delight

When all your hard work preparing the house for market is done and you see the high resolution photographs, you won’t believe how great your home looks. It’s not uncommon for people to stop for a moment and want to stay, though that’s just the emotions speaking.

The best thing to do when your home hits the open market is to leave town for a few days and, as hard as it may be, let your agent take the lead and handle all the details. If you’ve hired an agent you can trust – as you should – then allow yourself to enjoy some much deserved down time, and relax as best you can.

4. Disappointment

Especially in this record-setting Seller’s Market, it’s easy to assume every home will have a dozen offers for more than asking price within the first few days. The average number of days on market for homes that closed in February 2016, the last month before writing this post, was 43. This is down from 80 the year before, but still is far more than a week.

We have a saying in the business: “it just takes one.” There only needs to be one party to complete the transaction with you, and they may not be coming to Seattle for their job interview for three more weeks. As easy as it is to say, but hard to do, be patient.

Agents who have shown the home to buyers will give feedback on its condition and its price, and some of it will not feel good. However, I encourage you to listen to the feedback as objectively as possible. At some point, reevaluate your motivation and timeline to sell and adjust your strategy accordingly.

A home doesn’t sell for one of three reasons- location, condition or price. In many cases, it’s as simple as the listing price being too high for the current market.

For insight about considering the validity of online home values, read this post.

5. Elation with offer accepted

This is a huge hurdle to jump over- agreeing to sell to a buyer who has agreed to purchase for a price and on terms acceptable to you. If the buyer included a love letter with their offer, you may feel an emotional connection to them as well and a sense of relief that the perfect person will be the next steward to love and care for your home.

Now you can start to pack, both mentally and physically, for the move. It’s time to set up a time line and get ready to be moved out by the day possession changes hands.

6. Worry about escrow’s road bumps

Depending on the terms of the purchase and sale agreement, there could be a lot of negotiating left as the deal makes its way through escrow- it’s very rare for a deal to look the same a closing as it did on the day escrow was opened. Escrow is where your agent is likely doing the hardest work of the transaction.

If there is an inspection contingency, then the buyer may use the findings from the professional inspector(s) they hire to try and squeeze you for a few thousand-dollar credit or request repairs be made before closing. Failure for both parties to agree may cause the deal to fall apart and your home could be back on the market, or there may be a simple negotiation before moving on.

And though a buyer may be willing to pay above market value for your property, their lending institution of choice has the final word. Banks hire an appraiser to come and determine the market value of your home so as to protect themselves should they be left holding the property on their books if buyer defaults. They want to ensure they will not lose money in their subsequent sale and the appraisal is their only preventative measure for risk-management. Even if the appraiser who visits the property determines the agreed upon purchase price to be reasonable, a bank underwriter thousands of miles away may disagree and require buyer negotiate a lower price before funds are released to secure the property.

To learn more about how the steps of the contract could play out, read this post.

7. Relief when it closes

You get the call from your Realtor- the escrow company has recorded the new owner on the deed at the county office, wired funds to your bank account and closed the transaction file- SOLD!

Hopefully, you can net enough cash at closing to make a successful transition into your next phase in life. Hopefully, this day feels as if there is a 5-ton mental burden relieved from your shoulders and all that’s left to focus energy on is the future. Hopefully, you can celebrate the full range of positive emotions this relief brings.

8. Sadness in leaving behind

I am a firm believer in “Home is Where the Heart Is” and I recognize the grief that will come in closing a chapter in one’s life and looking forward to new things. Hopefully you have a record of the memories you created in the home so you can revisit them on occasion.

9. Joy in next phase of life

Who are you embarking on the next journey with? What are you excited about? When is this transition taking place? Where are you going? Why did you choose that path? Contact me today and let me buy you a beverage so I can hear your story.

See HouseLogic’s video for yourself here.

To learn how I can help make this roller coaster of an experience as smooth a transaction as possible, contact me at jason@jasonshutt.com or 206.399.3641. Copyright 2016