By Anessa V. Cohen
There are plenty of things to be said about what goes through the minds of homeowners before they come to the determination to put their houses on the market for sale. Some would say, “What’s the big deal? I have had enough, the house just doesn’t work for me anymore, and I am ready to move on to the next house, which hopefully will work better for me at this point of my life.”
The homeowners of this state of mind are stress-free in the decision-making portion of selling their homes and are able to move forward to the planning and management decisions of how to go about selling their houses and which broker to retain to take care of the sale for them.
But (I know, there is always a “but”) what about those homeowners who have a different frame of mind about the emotional place their homes have in their lives and are at a point where they need to sell for a variety of reasons other than the real desire to leave their home and start anew?
These homeowners can fall into a variety of categories. The home may have a lot of stairs and the homeowner has reached a point in life where climbing up and down the stairs is physically challenging. A homeowner might need to move because of a job relocation or because of family. Homeowners may suddenly find themselves in a big house that they love but that requires a lot of maintenance for just one or two people after all of their children have grown up and moved on. They have come to the realization that the costs are just too high and it doesn’t make sense to stay put.
The homeowner who has suddenly found a beloved home too costly to stay in is the saddest case. These homeowners need a special kind of TLC with the sale of their homes. They are not leaving with choice opportunities.
In any of these categories, which I call “nostalgia” categories, a real-estate broker must make the extra effort to be sensitive to the complexity of emotions surrounding the sellers of these properties because of their strong feelings towards the home they are selling.
It has not been unusual for me to find that during the course of selling the house of homeowners who really loved their home, they are unable to see their home through someone else’s eyes. The prospective buyers come in with no sentimental attachment to this house other than the potential that as buyers they might consider the purchase of this house in the future.
These cases come up more often than one might think. As an example, I once had a listing from a couple who had lived in their home for nearly 40 years and raised their children there as well. The kitchen had white vinyl wallpaper that might have been lovely when they originally hung it 40 years past, but presently had taken on a not-so-nice shade of beige-yellow from so many years of wear and tear. Every time the house was being shown, the homeowner would always say to the potential buyer, “Do you see this wallpaper in the kitchen? This is custom wallpaper that I had hung up here! You will never find this kind of quality today with the wallpapers that they sell in the stores!”
I never had the heart to tell the homeowner the truth and, thank G‑d, the people who eventually purchased the house were also sensitive to what the sellers were going through—leaving the home that had been a part of their lives for so many years. But the lesson learned was one that would stay with me always— for many homeowners, a house is not always just a house. When people go through so many life experiences in those homes, the nostalgia changes the home into a member of the family; when they sell it, it’s like marrying off children and seeing them on their way to their new life. ϖ
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.