Home Guru

Encountering and Dealing With Seller’s Remorse

Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

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By Bill Primavera

Today, we in the real estate business hear a lot about buyer’s remorse, which means either that a buyer regrets a housing purchase after the fact or walks away from a deal before it is consummated.

But what about the condition known as seller’s remorse?

One might think that sellers would be glad to move on to the next chapter in their lives when they are ready, and if they are hesitant in any way when a buyer comes along, maybe they are just not ready.

Readers of this column would know that my wife and I had lived in an historic home for many years, but a half-dozen years ago, we decided it was time to move on to a home that required less maintenance. We found a perfect young couple to assume its stewardship.

But as I was checking the house for the final walk-through, I realized I was feeling those pangs of separation as I walked from room to room, recalling memories of events that have taken place within those walls. At one point, in a small room once used for our young baby, it was almost too much. I suddenly recognized that I was experiencing a certain sense of sadness. Oh my, I thought, is this the feeling of seller’s remorse?

I had observed the phenomenon just once when making an offer to a seller on behalf of a client. At the height of the “bubble” market in the early 2000s, I had found a perfect buyer who offered full price for a home, but the seller dragged his feet in accepting the offer until, finally, his agent told me that he was just unable to deal with selling at that time and was withdrawing the listing.

Actually, in such a case, the listing agent could have demanded her full fee since she had brought a buyer to the table who was ready, willing and able to purchase at asking price.

A while back I read something about seller’s remorse online, but when I looked it up to refresh my memory, I could no longer find it posted. As luck would have it, however, I found a folder with a printout of the reasons.  

The article attributed the main cause of seller’s remorse to homeowners just not being motivated enough to sell in the first place because they don’t have a good enough reason to do it.

It was suggested on that website that a prospective seller check with the list of reasons most homeowners sell to see if the motivation is really there. Here they are:

  1. The home is too small for a growing family.
  2. To upgrade, based on the premise that people long for a bigger, more expensive and grander home.
  3. To fix a mistake in having bought the wrong kind of house in the first place.
  4. Job transfer.
  5. Personal relationships, divorce, new affair, etc.
  6. Neighborhood changes.
  7. Empty nest.
  8. To see family more often.
  9. See family less often.
  10. Retirement.
  11. Health problems.
  12. Deferred maintenance. Some homeowners prefer to buy a new home rather than fix what needs to be fixed.
  13. Home improvement perfection. A segment of the population loves to fix up a home, and once it’s perfect, they grow restless and want to start the process all over again.
  14. Some people can’t stand sitting on equity without having all that money in their pockets.
  15. Lifestyle change. Some mature Americans want to cash in and buy a co-op or condo with less maintenance and then travel or find some worthwhile work.

As for my wife and me, our former home simply became too big for us as empty nesters and we were ready to move on to maintenance-free condo living.

But after all this time, I still clearly recall that feeling of sadness I experienced in walking through the house that last time. It was probably a normal reaction to having sweet memories of our long-term living experience in a special place and we are more than ready for a new chapter in our lives.

It all worked out as it was supposed to.

Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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