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How to keep your emotions in check when selling

By George Hadgelias

Home is where the heart is, so it’s no surprise that people experience strong feelings when it comes time to sell.

Emotional connection between you and your home is completely normal, however, as a seller you cannot afford to let feelings get in the way.

Regardless of whether you are a baby boomer downsizing, an owner occupier upgrading or an investor looking to make a profit, your personal feelings must be kept in check in order to sell your property quickly and for the best price.

Why people become emotionally attached to their property

For most people a house is not just an asset. It is a place you associate with family, security, happiness and comfort. This is why a growing body of research says selling a home can be one of the most anxiety-prone events of your lifetime.

Depending on your circumstances, there may be different reasons for your bond but here are the most common:

It is where you created childhood memories

Homes are the backdrop for our lives. You spend many happy hours there, growing up and spending time with family and friends. These moments are an important piece of your identity and leave you feeling connected to where they happened.

It connects you to family history

In some cases, a property has been handed down through generations, or has played a major role in family connections. Therefore, some people struggle to let go and can feel like they are losing a family member.

It is where you celebrated milestones

Celebrations at home are a big part of life including birthdays, barbecues, engagement parties and even the occasional backyard wedding. We regularly reminisce about these special occasions with the house or apartment playing a prominent role in the memory.

You made it your own

Very few people move into a house and don’t make any changes. Whether it is a new deck, a painted feature wall, buying special furniture for the space or a complete renovation, you may have poured a lot of time and effort into your property. This creates a sense of pride and a strong bond that can be hard to let go of when it’s time to move on.

Should you use your emotions or keep them to the side?

It may seem counterintuitive, but in some cases, sellers can harness their love for their home to help find a new owner by thinking like a buyer.

Pride in your property means you are more likely to give it the attention it deserves and make it perfect before putting it on the market.

People who are very attached are also more likely to pick an agent that cares and who will take the time to point out all the major features and special highlights when showing potential buyers through the house.

While these are positive ways to harness your feelings to achieve a better result, for many people emotions will cloud judgement. This could result in hasty decisions that may end up costing thousands of dollars.

Emotional reasons to sell your home

Certain life events like a death or serious injury in the family are common reasons a sale is triggered, often making the process more overwhelming for the vendors.

In other cases, family members have become too old to care for themselves and the home. This can mean it is being sold against their wishes.

By far, divorce is one of the most difficult situations that cause intense emotions to arise. Selling can be especially tricky when one or both parties do not want to leave or refuse to see eye-to-eye on the price.

But, owner occupiers are not the only sellers impacted. Investors can also experience a rollercoaster of emotions when offloading an investment property. Especially, if they face short deadlines, a tight budget or need to sell in a falling market.

How to prepare emotionally

Undoubtedly, most vendors have a strong bond with their home. So according to specialist real estate agent Ettiene West from Morton, detachment is the best way to move forward.

His advice is to say goodbye to the house and begin to look at it as a ‘product’ early in the journey. Doing market research and keeping an open mind are also crucial.

“If there are no surprises then that obviously takes the emotion out of it,” West says. “Keep it factual, look at comparable sales. Try and focus on presentation of the house or apartment, and of course, where you are going to look for another home.”

Here are 10 tips on how to keep emotions in check when selling

  1. Focus on your house as a product not a sentimental asset
  2. Do your research to ensure you price it correctly and understand the market trends
  3. Say goodbye as you prepare your house for sale and make sure you are proud of what you are putting on the market
  4. Stage your home with impersonal items so it begins to feel less like home
  5. Make sure you are ready before bringing in the agent or listing the property yourself
  6. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes, imagine how happy the next family will be in a home you helped create
  7. Know what the market is doing and be realistic about your selling timeframe
  8. When possible get all other owners onboard before you begin the process
  9. Avoid being in the house when prospective buyers visit. If hearing about prospective buyers makes you upset ask your agent to keep details to a minimum
  10. Focus on your next home and think about the benefits of the new property and highlights of the location.

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