Selling a Home is Stressful: How to Cope With the Chaos and Uncertainty

Selling a home is stressful

Humans have a hard time dealing with change, so it’s not a surprise that relocating to a new home can be anxiety-inducing. That upheaval is one reason why selling a house can be stressful. The other big factor is not having any control over the outcome.

Of course, everyone handles stress differently; but selling a home is one of those things that creates worry in just about everybody. It’s a big deal. The process can affect your finances and emotions. It often relies on timing and negotiating skills. It’s also chaotic and a lot of work. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make it easier on yourself and your family.

It’s Not Just You

If you’re feeling stressed about selling your house, you’re not alone. In a recent Zillow survey, a list of common worries included things like selling the home within the desired timeframe, selling for the asking price, timing the sale with the purchase of a new home, and negotiating with buyers. 

According to Thrive Global, moving comes in at #7 on the list of the 10 most stressful life events. It’s also worth noting that relocating often comes along with other life changes that add an extra dose of tension. People might sell their house to start a new job, after divorce or the death of a spouse, when a new child is born, when the nest is emptying, or to become the caretaker of an ill or elderly relative. These amplify the stress surrounding the sales process.

Conquering Fear of the Unknown

Some homeowners are intimidated by the process of selling a home. They don’t want to make any mistakes, so they stress over setting the asking price or the best time to put a house on the market. They may fear they’ll look foolish if they don’t know the procedures to follow or what some of the real estate terminology means. Some basic research can help reduce their fears and boost their confidence about selling their home.

Websites like the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties blog have a wealth of information for sellers and buyers. Sellers can educate themselves about what to fix before selling, ways to get the asking price, and who is responsible for closing costs. They can also learn how to find a good realtor, which is one of the most important things a seller can do to relieve their stress.

Teaming Up With an Agent

Team up with an agent to manage the stress of selling your home

Since selling a home is already a stressful undertaking, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to attempt a “For Sale By Owner” situation. It’s a good idea to leave it to the professionals, especially for someone prone to worry.

Homesellers can reduce their stress almost instantly by hiring an experienced real estate agent. It is important to find the right agent: Someone who the seller has a rapport with, who communicates well, and who is willing to take the time to explain anything they don’t understand. An agent who knows the market and is good at their job will be with the seller every step of the way. They can give a realistic idea of how much time it should take to sell the house, help calculate the asking price, advise on what should be fixed, and line up potential buyers.

Control What You Can

Selling a home means accepting that a lot of things are out of your control. It’s impossible to predict how long a house may be on the market and what the final sales price will be. Letting go and living with the uncertainty is difficult and can create anxiety.

Many people feel better by taking charge of things they can control. Sellers can help move the process forward by having their own inspection done and methodically working through the to-do list to fix things that need attention. 

They can also keep busy with the all-important cleaning and organizing that every house for sale needs. Simply packing away out-of-season clothing or boxing up seldom used items not only gets the house ready to show to potential buyers, it gives the seller a sense of accomplishment that they’re one step closer to being ready for moving day.

The House that Sells Too Slow...Or Too Fast

Just because a house is in a desirable neighborhood, in great shape, and at a great price doesn’t mean it’s going to sell right away. Waiting and wondering is stressful and can fill a seller with doubts. Is the price too high? Is there something wrong with the house that we’re not seeing? Is the realtor doing all they can? Will it ever sell?

Selling a house is a little like dating. There has to be chemistry. Our best advice is to be patient and keep the faith that the right buyer will indeed come along. In the meantime, stay busy with the cleaning and packing mentioned above. 

Sometimes, the opposite happens and a house sells super quick. It can catch sellers off guard and create an entirely different list of anxieties. In this scenario, it’s important to have contingencies built into the contract, for example, such as the sale being contingent on the seller closing on a new house. 

Some pre-planning can make a quick sale easier to manage. When the house goes on the market, it’s not a bad idea to start getting quotes from moving companies, storage units, and even transitional housing. Have a plan ready so there’s somewhere to go if a buyer is found right away.

Handling Displacement

Keep your house clean to avoid stress before last-minute showings

Having strangers traipse through your house can be a source of stress and discomfort. The anxiety might be even worse due to concerns about COVID-19.

Pandemic or not, sellers can prepare themselves for showings and open houses by creating an action plan. Keep the house as clean as possible all the time, but have plenty of supplies ready for a quick touchup when the realtor calls. Set designated places to stow away things quickly for a showing. Pack away breakables or valuables so they’re not a concern. When the call comes in from the realtor about a showing, having a workable plan to get ready quickly will help ease anxiety. 

Arrange for someplace to go when the realtor wants to show the house. In “normal” times, we’d suggest going to the mall or a movie, but the pandemic may prevent some of those ideas. Realtors are having to work with the restrictions too, so they may have suggestions. They’re also probably relying heavily on virtual and video tours and only showing to the most serious buyers in person.

Open houses are being handled differently to maximize safety for everyone involved. Talk to the realtor about the protocols they have in place. They should be able to reduce any fears you have for you and your family when it comes to the virus. 

One way to handle the displacement and also reduce stress is to plan some time away for a short vacation. The realtor can show the property to multiple buyers while you’re off enjoying yourself.

Dealing With Big Emotions

Moving can bring excitement about the new home, but sadness about leaving the old one. A couple’s first house or the place where their child took his first steps has strings attached—directly to the seller’s feelings. It can also be an issue for sellers with kids, especially if they’re leaving the friends and school that have become familiar. 

It’s helpful to focus on the new home and all it has to offer. It’s bound to have something that’s an improvement over the current home. If it’s in a new city, look into fun things to do there. Plan to take a trip to check things out. Learning the lay of the land will help to make the move less scary and reduce anxiety. This can also free up the home for an open house.

It’s also fairly common to second guess the decision to move at all. Don’t lose sight of the reasons for selling the house. Keeping the goal in mind should reduce worry about the choice.

Seek Some Self Care

When stressed about selling a home, it’s important to take time out from all of the repairs, cleaning, packing, and planning to take care of yourself. Practice the things that you do for self care in any stressful situation.

Physical activity is a common remedy for many people. Work out, take a walk or a bike ride, or do some yoga. Take time out of the day to engage in a favorite hobby or sport. Even sitting down to watch a movie or read a book can take one’s mind off of the selling process. Recognize that stress can make people lose sleep. Get plenty of rest and eat right. 

Most importantly, be aware that feeling stressed out when selling a house is normal. Give yourself a break and stay positive. There is an end in sight and you will sell your house. Finally, enlist the help of an experienced real estate agent who can help make it happen.

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