I contend that it would be impossible to sell a home that you loved without experiencing a considerable degree of seller’s remorse. Why wouldn’t you feel this way? How could you live some meaningful bits of your life in a place that mattered, and then walk away as if you would gladly trade a pocketful of money for those memories? You wouldn’t, because you can’t. So why do we sell the homes we love?
Several years ago I set about looking for land upon which I wanted to build a fly fishing cabin. After a year or two, I found the property I wanted to own. There are pictures on my phone of my wife holding our dog on a snowy hillside, of the kids playing in the snow, of my son trying to build a small fire out of cardboard scraps and Kleenex. Later, we would build. A slow and arduous process that took nearly two years due to all varieties of factors. My wife stained most of the exterior, her hands and shirt left black from the Cabot. My son and I moved great stones to fashion the landscaping. My daughter and I drove out several times together to fish and clean, to do some of the constant things that needed to be done. It was a family effort, and I remember every moment of it.
Later, when it was complete, this was one of my favorite places to be. It was quiet and still, the trout were wild and hungry, and the wood fired fares that I pulled off of my grill always hit the spot. My son grew into the finest fly fisherman under my horrible and oppressive tutelage. The cabin was easy for me to own and never let me down. And then, I sold it. Not happily. Not with motivation. But I sold it, still. And throughout that process I learned how my seller clients feel when they sell the homes they love. There is nothing joyful about the process. There is only work and regret and tears and emotion. But the process unfolds little by little until you spend the last night in the home you loved.
So why do we do this thing we don’t want to do? Why do we sell something that we could have easily always owned? Why do we voluntarily carry this burden of seller’s remorse on our backs? I asked myself these questions for the last several months, and I came up with my own answer: Because I have another plan in mind. That doesn’t mean the last plan was any worse, or the next plan any better. It doesn’t mean that I’m 100% certain in my next move. It just means that I know the real estate move that happens next is one that I know I need to experience. It was time to sell that cabin on the hill. It is time to try to create something new someplace else.
I should note that I sold the home off-market. I did so because I know the benefits of this style of sale. I could have listed the home and hoped for market forces to drive up my price, but I didn’t. Because I know this is a binary process and I would either win or lose. I don’t like to lose, so I avoided the open market. I bought something new in another place, and I bought that off-market as well. Why? Because I found it and bought it and I didn’t need the market to convince me that it was the right price at the right time. While the next move plays out I will remain clouded with sorrow over the cabin I left behind. I loved that little place, and in my sale I join a long list of my clients who have sold something they didn’t really want to sell but knew it had to be done.