Selling your home? Put your game face on. Get a firm grip. Gird your loins. Make sure you are all buckled up and fully programmed on zen mode. You might also want to rummage around in that junk pile you call a garage (there’s a secret hoarder stashed in all of us) and see if you can find a makeshift crash helmet, in one of those old boxes of football stuff or in that motley collection of pots and pans you’ve been saving for a rainy day – just in case you need it.
If you are getting ready to sell, you are soon going to be venturing outside the private, gated universe of comfort and safety you’ve been living in, in blissful ignorance and relative isolation, for years.
You are about to take the plunge. A leap of faith that can resemble a header off the side of the abyss. Sometimes it feels like the doors of both your home and your soul are getting thrown open to the great unwashed masses of the marketplace – exposing you to a new strain of swine flu, genetically-altered to infect susceptible Sellers.
Most of the time we play with real estate like we are armchair quarterbacks in charge of our own Fantasy Football Team. Fantasy Real Estate is one of our favorite pastimes. We keep up with all the stats in the newspapers. We wander through open houses doing advanced scouting reports. We download virtual tours of promising new talent from the websites. And we love to peruse the glossy pictures in the magazines in search of potential draft choices for the future.
We imagine making all big time moves just like the pros do. Claiming that little desert condo we’ve always wanted, on waivers. Getting a bank-owned beach bungalow for a song, because the mortgage exceeds the owner’s salary cap. Making a blockbuster trade – like exchanging our 4,000 sq ft franchise home for a mountain cabin, 10 acres of pristine lakefront property and a duplex to be named later.
But sooner or later, all those life transitions we hear about and all those changes we know are coming, eventually do circle around to include us. Suddenly it is our turn on the hot seat. Suddenly, real estate becomes a lot more real – when it is our home and we are the Sellers. It isn’t Fantasy Real Estate anymore. We have to buck up and shed the last vestiges of our Intention Deficit Disorder. We aren’t in a position to take six years to window shop and try on a million different scenarios for size or for a lark.
It’s always interesting to notice which things carry the most weight and trigger those crucial aha moments for Sellers as they journey down the road towards the realization that “this” is really happening.
Here’s my quick list of those edge points – small quantum leaps along the way that both scare the hell out of Sellers and help them come to terms with realty.
The first happens when the Realtor shows up and a few nosey neighbors recognize him getting out of the car. Suddenly there are a whole lot of questions and no real answers. It catches Sellers off guard. Throws them for a loop.
Then, after all the talk, the Seller just can’t put off signing the listing contract any longer. There is something about putting their John Hancock at the bottom of a formal document that makes them feel like they’ve just endorsed the antithesis of the Declaration of Independence.
A third moment of truth comes when an Agent asks a Seller to de-clutter their house. Meaning: get rid of stuff so that someone else can imagine their own stuff in its place. It is strangely unnerving when someone tells someone else how to live in their own house for the first time.
Perhaps the defining moment for most Sellers is the day the sign goes up. There’s something so iconic about it that most of those last traces of denial that Sellers still hold in their hearts are vanquished.
And then of course, there’s injury to insult. Sellers often have inspections done before going on market. While it’s a great idea, it can sure feel disconcerting to pay a stranger to tell you everything that’s wrong with the home that has nurtured your life for many years. Ouch.
Selling your home. Love it. Hate it. Want it. But don’t want it. Like I said, buckle up and get into zen mode – quickly. Maybe it’s why Sellers are supposed to bury the statue of St Joseph upside down in their yards. Sometimes it takes a while to get to the upside of the downside.