The Psychology of Buying/Selling A Home

Resistance to change is common for buyers and sellers. This may seem surprising since both buying and selling mean seeking out a move with many related changes, but resistance is common none the less.

Buying and selling real estate involve many complex decisions packed full of real estate terminology, all of which are new territory for most buyers and sellers.

Add the pressure of time-sensitive decisions and the stress of dealing with huge amounts of money (much of it borrowed) and most buyers and sellers are way out of their comfort zones.

Does resistance in buyers and sellers make more sense now?

Too often, making no decision or a "no" decision may seem less stressful for buyers or sellers than agreeing to the significant changes related to entering into a real estate transaction. Fear of making the wrong decision can result in resistance and indecision which could cost thousands:

  • Sellers who receive their first offer — especially very soon after the house is listed — may worry they are selling too cheaply. Resistance can lead to the seller wanting "to wait and see" if a higher offer will appear. Sellers may second guess their decision to sell. Resulting stubbornness can materialize as illogical resistance to offer price, move-in date, or to giving up light fixtures or other items a buyer includes in their offer to purchase.
  • Buyers who have seen a property which meets their wish list must-haves, may still be resistant to making an offer, especially if it's their first offer or one of the first houses they view. Resistance leads to wanting "to see more houses" as if there's a magic number of viewings before a dream house appears. Resistance may also materialize as stubborn refusal to increase their offered purchase price for a seemingly-ideal property a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to meet the sellers half way. Buyers have been know to walk away from deals if the appliances, lighting fixtures, or other "must haves" they ask for in the offer are denied them by the seller. Ask your real estate professional about their experience with deal-breaking battles over furnishings and details.

Resistance is common under stress, even the best stress.

Real estate professionals will do their best to help buyers and sellers face their fears and overcome their resistance. Closing or decision-making techniques can help buyers or sellers realize where true value lies for them. In the hands of trained, ethical professionals, closing techniques can be communication and decision-making aids. (Caution: Unscrupulous individuals can use these simple exercises to manipulate or mislead — care is essential!)

For instance, one closing technique involves reducing a small disputed difference in purchase price like $1500 to its cost per day over a year. In this case, $1500 is $4.11 a day. Compare that amount to common purchases like a cup of coffee to put the financial decision in perspective. Or, relating that dollar difference to the cost per month on the mortgage payment, rather than cash out of hand, may also help.

Resistance leads individuals to "I'd like to sleep on it" reactions. It's not that they expect to win the Lottery overnight. This stress-related stall provides mental breathing room but unless issues are addressed, clear thinking does not automatically result. The problem is usually lack of confidence in decision making, not in the property.

Unfortunately, in real estate, delays can cost buyers a "dream" property or sellers a dream offer. Decisive buyers and sellers will snap up opportunities while others hesitate.

When experiencing resistance, ask yourself why you're having this reaction to put these feelings in perspective. Often the bigger the decision or resulting change, the greater the resistance:

  • What are you being asked to let go of or to release?
  • What must you face in its place?
  • How real are related fears?
  • How real are perceived benefits of proceeding with the transaction?

Enlist the expertise of your real estate professional in assessing the true benefits and weaknesses of the decision to buy or sell a specific property. Question their responses. Ask for market statistics and analysis of area trends.

  • Spend equal time and energy analyzing what is gained by not buying or selling the real estate in question. How special is this property anyway?
  • How much of the hesitation is related to uncertainty in your personal life or relationship? Is this really the best time to buy or sell? Don't just ask these questions. Get to work and decisively tease out answers.

Usually, this deep, clear thinking reveals the true value of benefits and gains in taking the plunge to buy or sell.

More than one experienced real estate professional has suggested the 51% rule can make sense when homes are involved. That is, "more sure" than "not sure," with slight but exhilarating uncertainty regarding the adventure ahead. That's real estate ownership.

For more on overcoming resistance to change — in yourself and others — check out "Overcome Mediocrity & Resistance" on PJ Wade's blog: http://whatsyourpoint.mobi

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