Seller’s Remorse is Real. Why It Happens And How To Deal

(Written by my daughter, Elisabeth, when she purchased her 1st Home in 2012 and then sold it in 2015, reposted in its entirety. It's such a great example of Seller's Remorse, I couldn't help but want to reprint it - in her own words.)

I remember when I originally purchased my first home in September 2012, my mom (who was also my real estate agent) suggested that I might face some buyer’s remorse.

This is the sense of regret after making a purchase and it can often accompany the purchase of an expensive object.  Sometimes it stems from fear of making the wrong choice or suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller.

I was slightly worried about getting buyer’s remorse, especially given that I was now $103,000 in debt after signing the final contract.

But I never did get it. I loved my new 2 bedroom, 2.5-bathroom townhome. I had gotten it for a great price ($8,000 off list price) and it was the perfect fit for me.  More than that, it had a great location right by a park with a lake and it was close enough to uptown Charlotte while still preserving that sense of privacy and distance I craved.

Fast forward 2.5 years and I recently closed on the sale of that first home.

I hadn’t expected to be selling it so soon.  But major life changes dictated that now was the time to sell.

And man, it really was a good time to sell!  I had a purchase offer on my home in 15 days.  I was thrilled.  Everything felt like it was falling into place, setting me up for the next great chapter of my life.

But then, it suddenly hit me about a week later while I was at work: That’s not going to be my home anymore in a few weeks.

I felt this sinking feeling in my gut.  And my chest felt hollow, like someone had ripped out my heart. I felt anxious, remorseful and sad all at the same time.

It occurred to me that while I’d escaped buyer’s remorse, I was dealing with a serious case of seller’s remorse. And I didn’t quite understand why.

So What Is Seller’s Remorse and What Causes It?

Seller’s remorse is this feeling of regret over selling your home.  Sometimes, this feeling can have really costly consequences. For instance, some sellers may end up buying back their old home for a much higher price than it’s worth as a way of treating the remorse. Other sellers might back out of a contract because of seller’s remorse, which can sometimes result in lawsuits from buyers.

I searched the Internet and here are the top reasons I found for why people develop seller’s remorse:

  • Sellers didn’t get their asking price or believe they accepted an offer that was too low.
  • They have made the logical decision to downsize but then, the harsh reality of that decision hits them as they’re forced to sell extra furniture, some of which has been in the family for years.  This also forces some sellers to face the fact that they’re getting older and this is a new chapter in their life.
  • They made an impulsive decision to move and now they’re legally obligated to follow through with the sale.
  • They’re being forced to sell for financial reasons. This is particularly damning because on the one hand, they’re glad to be out from under the debt but on the other hand, they’re devastated by letting go of their dream home.
  • They’re unable to find a new home that appeals to them as much as their last home did.
  • They’re leaving behind so many memories in their old home that it causes a lot of emotional strife.  They essentially built a life for themselves in the home and now they’re leaving it behind.

For me, I think a lot of my seller’s remorse stemmed from that last reason.

Me entering my new home for the first time on the day I closed on it.

After all, this was my very first home. And not only that, but I purchased it as a single female at the age of 24.

This really was an important milestone for me as I value my independence a great deal. I’ve never wanted to be the kind of female that moves straight from her father’s house to her husband’s house. I wanted to be able to say I lived on my own first.

And while I have pretty much lived on my own in apartments for the last six years, there’s nothing quite like owning your own home.  Knowing your name is the only one on the deed…having the freedom to do whatever you want to the backyard because it’s your land after all… feeling the pride of maintaining the home because it is yours to keep… it’s a wonderful feeling.

Owning the place in which you live really does change how you view the property.

When something would break at the apartments, I would just call the maintenance guys and have them fix it.  I really didn’t care if I forgot to turn the vents on in the bathroom while I showered because I knew I wouldn’t be around long enough to see the mold growing anyway.  And forget about any interior improvements – I wasn’t going to throw away my money improving a place I wasn’t going to live in anyway within a couple of years.

But with owning a home, there really was a sense of pride. There’s also a real yearning to put down roots and a deep-seated desire to preserve the property as much as possible so it lasts a great many years.

After all, I was envisioning getting married while living at that home and, years down the road, having kids. Often, as I was driving home from work, I’d daydream about walking my first born to school at the nearby Pineville Elementary or watching my child play little league at the nearby athletic complex.

I could really see my life unfolding there.

Given all that, it’s no wonder I felt seller’s remorse.  While I knew that it was the best decision for my life (which is about to face a number of major changes), it still hurt to make that emotional break.  After all, I wasn’t just saying goodbye to past memories but future memories as well.

How to Treat Seller’s Remorse

Here are the best suggestions I found online:

  • Make sure you have a solid reason for selling your home before you list.  Some of the common reasons include:
    • The home is too small for a growing family
    • They’re trying to fix a mistake in buying the wrong home in the first place
    • Job transfer
    • Personal relationship changes like divorce
    • Neighborhood changes
    • Divorce
    • New empty nesters
    • To see family more often
    • To see family less often
    • Retirement
    • Health Problems
    • Deferred maintenance
  • When in doubt, stay out.  If you’re not sure if you have really solid reasons for wanting to sell your home, hold off.  You want to be sure that that is what you want before you list your home. After all, the market is improving so much lately that you could have an offer within hours of listing.  And if you haven’t fully considered the implications of selling your home, that could lead to a serious case of seller’s remorse.
  • Work with a real estate agent you trust and make sure that you are involved and present-minded during the negotiation process so that you feel like you’re invested and in control when a purchase offer is improved.
  • Remind yourself that seller’s remorse is completely natural and most homeowners feel varying degrees of it.
  • Have a clear plan for where you’re going to go after the sale of your home is finalized.
  • Stay positive by focusing on your new home. Remember that these feelings are likely to dissipate once you’re settled into your new place and you start turning that house into a home.
  • Try to not second-guess your decision.  It’s done already and it happened for a reason. It’s time to move forward.
  • Remember what motivated you to sell in the first place. You might even keep that list handy with you so that you can reference it whenever those regrets crop up again.
  • Take the time to appreciate the memories you made in your old home and to give your home a proper farewell.

I think I’m going to give that last suggestion a try.  I think it will give me the closure I seek and also give me a chance to properly honor what my home in Pineville meant to me.

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