Guest Post: Being a Seller VS Being a Buyer

Thank you to my friend and client, Nichole for writing about her experience as she sells and buys a home. Her blog, A Midwest Activist, is all about her animal rescue organization, Mended Hearts.

My husband and I were informed in July that my company required us to relocate out of the Indianapolis area to better fit their growth strategy. This relocation came as a surprise, and frankly, we weren’t really prepared for it, financially or emotionally. Michelle listed our beloved first home to be sold, so we could purchase a home in our new city.

Every showing request is a mixture of stress, apprehension and hope. You are letting strangers in to open your cabinets and look in your closets. You rush to put away your laundry and pretend like there isn’t a family living there. You fret over artwork – will our wrought iron crosses in the guest room put people off? You worry about what you cook for dinner and possible odors. You rearrange your schedule to accommodate as many showing requests as possible – even leaving work early to straighten for a buyer who is “going to make an offer on a house today”. You hesitate to make plans because there might be a showing request. You wait until less than 30 days to plan trips – just in case you get an offer.

The process is very emotional for the seller. It’s just another house to the buyer – but it’s your HOME. They don’t have the memories that make the house special and beautiful to you. Every negative feedback comes like an arrow to the gut. It’s hard not to take it personally.  It’s too small, too non-traditional, it smells, it’s dirty (!!!), the house is in “rough shape”. This is all feedback we received after showings. There’s the occasional “very nice kitchen” thrown in but it hardly undoes the damage from the overwhelming negative. We appreciated the constructive feedback and made an effort to address the issues. Some feedback was ridiculous – replace all the windows and repaint everything? Are you nuts?!?

The hardest part is having absolutely no influence over the buyers. You don’t know who they are. You don’t know what appeals to them. You have zero control over their decision making process. You can try to eliminate the things that may repel a potential buyer, but ultimately, you have no way of knowing. You just hope that they see your house the way you did. Your buyer is out there – but how long until they find your home? How much will you have to lower the price to make them see the “value”?

And then you get an offer! Of course it’s lower than you’d like. It’s a buyers’ market, remember? Do you risk turning it down, hoping there’s another offer coming soon? Do you continue living in this suspended state with all the stress that comes with showing the house?  What is the intangible value to us to finalize it and get on with our new adventure?

Buying a home is completely different. You have almost all the power! The process is full of potential and dreams. It’s exciting and fun to look at houses! We wandered through homes (only opening closets and cabinets if we were really serious about the house), daydreaming, talking about how we could arrange our lives there. Talking through every house made us appreciate our family and our marriage. This was the complete reverse of showing our house for sale – those often primed us both for a fight!

The needs of our family limited the list of homes that would work for us, but we still had 2 dozen potential properties, more if we were willing to relax some of our requirements. As the buyer, you can eliminate a home as a potential for whatever – for example, the neighboring house that has a pink carousel horse planted in their front yard (true story!).

When we finally made our offer, the negotiation was infinitely less stressful. There was another house we could buy if negotiations fell apart. As the seller, there’s no backup buyer waiting in the wings (unless you were our seller, in which case they got lucky and had a second offer). As the seller, every decision you make is fraught with concerns that you will drive your buyer away. As the buyer, it’s a business deal and you’re the boss. You can shoot for the moon – at least you’ll land among the stars!

It’s unfortunate that if we need to buy another house in the future, we’ll have to be a seller again first. I would prefer to never sell a house again! At least the painful part comes first, I guess, and it’s rewarded by the fun of buying a new house (I’m ignoring the actual moving part – yikes!). So buyers, take a little pity on the sellers, please?

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