Reviewed by: Brandon Brown
Whether a “For Sale” sign is already swinging on the front lawn or you’re browsing real estate websites for the first time, a small lump may rise in your throat when you think about selling your home.
Although it can be an exciting process, selling your house can lead many homeowners to hyperventilate in their kitchen when a potential buyer arranges their first visit—even those who are 100% certain about their decision. But whether or not you’re moving on to greener pastures, it’s completely normal to have an overwhelming emotional response when selling your home.
Much like there are emotional stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), there are also emotional stages of selling a house. So take a deep breath in, then let it out. Together, we’ll ride the emotional rollercoaster of selling your home.
Why is Selling a House So Emotional?
Even under the best of circumstances, selling a house can be an emotional endeavor. But why is that?
“We have memories and associations that are connected to all of those things that make houses so heavily connected to ourselves,” Dr. Scott Huettel, chair of the department of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, told the New York Times.1
In other words, when you’re selling your house, it’s almost like you are selling a part of yourself. It is easy to see why as a home seller it can be an emotional process.
If your house is complicated by circumstances like divorce or death, the sale can become even more emotional. And if the house was the site of emotional joys (like where your children were born or grew up), the sale could trigger old memories. All of these feelings are in addition to the normal anxiety and frustrations that come along with any large transaction.
Here are just a few of the typical emotions of selling a home.
Stage One: Optimism
You’ve just decided to sell your home—and you may even have an eye on your new abode. Everything is looking up, and you’re excited about the future. You’re convinced that dozens of perfect potential buyers are going to come barreling through your door any moment now.
At this stage, the future looks bright, and you’re convinced that the road ahead will be smooth.
Stage Two: Concern
During the home selling process, you’re bound to experience some concern, anxiety, or worry. The veneer of the perfect sale may begin to crack once reality sets in. Maybe the buyers aren’t right—or perhaps buyers haven’t shown up at all.
Once you experience some of the initial ups and downs, you might begin to feel the stress of selling a home begin to creep in as the “what-ifs” start to swirl around your mind:
- What if the house never sells?
- What if it does sell but then the sale falls through?
- What if the market crashes tomorrow?
Worries are setting in. You find yourself going over every detail and every possible snag. At this stage, you may even be losing sleep over the sale of your home.
Consider implementing some calming routines into your life at this point. Talk to friends who have sold their homes. Try to go to sleep at the same hour every evening. And remember that this, too, shall pass.
Stage Three: Searching
You’re done being anxious. It’s time to do something. At this stage, if you’ve hit any roadblocks, you may start hunting for all the reasons that the sale hasn’t gone how you imagined it would—and looking for solutions. You may start finding faults in the house. Or maybe it’s the marketplace. Maybe it was the crummy weather when the buyers came to visit.
If the sale isn’t happening as fast as you expected, you might be feeling frustrated and you may start to take that aggression to other arenas of your life. At this stage, setting aside time to focus on activities unrelated to the home sale, like exercise, can help you maintain a clear head.
Stage Four: Nostalgia
After your home sale is officially underway, things might be going smoothly at last—but then you may find some old photographs buried in a closet. Or perhaps you remember when you brought your child or puppy home for the first time. You start to remember everything that happened in this house, and you may find yourself questioning whether or not you really want to sell your home, after all.
At this stage, it can help to have a conversation with a trusted friend. This could be a reaction to feeling “stuck” in the process of selling your home. Perhaps you’re subconsciously convinced that your home will never sell. Or you worry that, if it does finally sell, you’ll only lose money on the deal.
While it’s perfectly normal to feel nostalgic about leaving your home, make sure that you aren’t using nostalgia as an excuse to avoid moving on in life.
Stage Five: Acceptance
After cycling through a rollercoaster of emotions, you may find yourself drained. Or perhaps you’ve had a conversation with a real estate advisor. You’ve come to finally accept that you can’t rush the process of selling your home.
You come to peace with the fact that selling your home is a process you can’t always control. With this new knowledge, you may even find yourself beginning to feel hope again. The perfect solution could show up when you least expect it.
Stage Six: Relief
It’s finally happened! After weeks or months (or maybe even years), you’ve finally found the perfect buyer and completed this big real estate transaction. While you may feel relief as the sale closes, you may also experience:
- All the other emotions above
Remember that while you can’t control your emotions, you can control how you respond to them. Take some time to process everything. You can even partake in some meaningful goodbye rituals, like going through old photographs or hosting one last dinner party.
Going through the home selling process can definitely take you on an emotional roller coaster ride, but it’s important to understand where these emotions are coming from.
While you process, remember to give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve just completed the closing process for a seller. That’s one great accomplishment worth celebrating.
Selling a House Can Be Emotional—But It Doesn’t Have to be Difficult
As you get ready for your home sale, be prepared for the fact that the emotions of selling a house can (and probably will) arise out of nowhere. And it’s completely normal for you to cycle through all the different emotional stages all in one day.
Selling your home is bound to be an emotional process no matter how you make the sale. But that process doesn’t always have to be a difficult one.
You can make the home selling experience easier by trusting your home to FlipSplit. We’re both an off-market cash home buyer and a house-flipping company. We’ll buy your home, spruce it up, and split the cash with you.
Contact FlipSplit today to learn how we can make selling your home easy, so you can move on to the next stage in the emotional cycle: excitement over your next home.
- The New York Times. When a House Is So Much More. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/03/realestate/when-a-house-is-so-much-more.html
Reviewed by: Brandon Brown
As a long-time Asset Manager, Investor, Real Estate Agent, and Broker/Owner of BayBrook Realty in Orange County, Brandon Brown is one of FlipSplit’s lead Real Estate experts. Having worked on over 2,000+ real estate transactions, Brandon brings a depth of knowledge that ensures clients are appropriately treated with honesty and integrity. His insights and advice have been published in numerous blogs beyond FlipSplit, and he keeps a close eye on market trends and statistics, which are updated weekly on his social media pages. Outside work, you can find him participating and serving at church, cycling, mountain biking, surfing around Orange County and beyond, and enjoying time with his wife and two daughters.