Home Selling Stress — The 7 Stages of Home Selling Grief!

This article from the Evansville Homes team details home selling stress and the stages of grief when selling a home.

Are you feeling a surge of home selling stress waiting for a buyer to purchase your home? You’re not alone. What you’re experiencing is a modified version of the Stages of Grief model created by a well-known psychiatrist in 1969. Although the sources of misery may be different, the same principles can apply when selling your home! Learn more about the stages below and what you can do to overcome them.

What is the 5 (or 7) Stages of Grief Model?

If you’ve ever taken a psychology class in high school or college, you’ve probably heard of the 5 (or 7) Stages of Grief. This model was created by a Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, in her 1969 book titled On Death and Dying. In her work, Dr. Kübler-Ross presented a model depicting the five emotions or stages of grief she saw while working with terminally ill patients: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Since its release, the model has been expanded into seven stages (adding shock and testing). Both the 5-stage and 7-stage models have been met with criticism through the years, but there’s no doubt that many people use these models as a base to judge their own grief and recovery. With that in mind, we wanted to take a moment to share how home sellers can experience these (seven) steps when selling a home in Evansville.

Stage 1: Shock

When you develop home selling stress, usually the first stage of grief you’ll experience is shock. This happens when you hear whatever bad news that may be present for the first time. If you’re selling a home, this usually comes when you are first listing a home with a real estate agent or after receiving your first showing feedback. If listing with an agent, the shock may come from hearing that your home is worth less than what you thought it was worth. On the other hand, selling on your own can cause shock when you hear from your first prospective buyer that the home isn’t to their liking or that they think it’s overpriced. Regardless of the scenario, you’ll find out that this stage is typically met with feelings of paralysis, meaning you’ll be so shocked at first that you don’t even know what to say!

Stage 2: Denial

Just like many of the stages of home selling stress, the shock stage can last three minutes or three weeks—it all just depends on your personality. Whenever that emotion has faded, the next step is usually the denial stage. This stage is more of a survival mechanism, meaning your body and mind are trying to protect you from the event or information you just experienced. From here you may become defensive and stall the inevitable (whether you know it or not) to reduce the blow. Think about our scenarios from earlier. After the listing agent has shown you that your home isn’t as valuable as you thought, you might begin questioning their expertise or making yourself believe that they aren’t working in your best interest. If selling on your own and you receive poor feedback, you may write off the prospective buyer as being a window shopper or someone who doesn’t know anything about purchasing a home. Just like the shock stage, this step can take various amounts of time. However, when the feelings of denial begin to fade away, many of your suppressed thoughts or emotions will begin bubbling to the surface. Here the home selling stress may begin to catch up with you, but it’s safe to say you’re beginning the first steps towards acceptance.

Stage 3: Anger

No one likes to be angry, but it’s all too common that the following stage after denial is anger. Now that the protective emotions of shock and denial have faded, you’ll be faced with all the feelings you initially tried to subdue. Although it’s dangerous to bottle up your anger, it can be just as devastating to lash out at those closest to you. You may also feel the urge to reprimand your real estate agent if your home isn’t selling, or bark at another prospective home buyer who doesn’t love your home as much as you do. Another common possibility is that you may become angry with yourself instead of a nearby party. This occurrence can be just as detrimental to your overall health, especially if you let it manifest for a long period of time. Believe it or not, there is a major benefit of the anger stage, although it may come later in your grieving process: energy and motivation. Usually when you feel angry, there’s a part of you (be it minor or significant) that wants to change for your situation. This factor can be a great motivator to begin healing. When it comes to home selling stress, this energy or motivation may lead you to begin improving the condition of your home, often by tidying up, updating, or otherwise making your home presentation immaculate!

Stage 4: Bargaining

After overcoming the emotions of anger, some people experience an additional step called the bargaining stage. It’s here where you’ll usually find people praying for resolution, typically in the form trying to make a deal with a higher power. You may hear someone swear off any bad behavior if they can just navigate the process successfully. In the case of real estate, you may try to negotiate a price reduction with your real estate agent only if they agree to also lower their commission. Those suffering from home selling stress can also develop a “what if” complex while in the bargaining stage. They may ask themselves questions such as, “what if I would’ve updated my flooring last summer” or “what if no one wants my home.” Just like the traditional bargaining scenarios mentioned above, these types of thoughts are almost always fruitless, and in reality they don’t benefit your specific situation in any way. It can be difficult to overcome the bargaining stage, but the quicker you can move on the faster you’ll reach the healing stage.

Stage 5: Depression

If you’ve reached the depression stage, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing all kinds of horrible emotions related to your home selling stress. Your home may not be selling, or your agent may be telling you that you’re going to have to reduce price in order to generate more buyer interest. From here it’s easy to fall into a poor state, especially if you’re feeling like there’s no hope. Many sufferers of depression say they feel empty, numb, or like there’s no end in sight to their woes. Fortunately, most victims of situational depression will make a full recovery once they’re able to move on beyond this necessary grieving stage. Whether it means talking with your friends and family or your real estate agent, it’s important that you acknowledge these emotions and bring them out into the open. It will be difficult, but doing so is imperative when it comes to reaching acceptance. If you reach the depression stage and can’t shake the feelings after an expended period of time, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help.

Stage 6: Testing

Once you’ve overcome the feelings of depression, the most common stage to follow is the testing stage. It’s within this step that your outlook will probably start looking up. The testing stage is usually associated with seeking realistic solutions to help alleviate your loss or incident. When it comes to real estate, this is the most common stage for thinking critically about your home and making a plan to boost its saleability. From here you may begin researching what kinds of updates and features buyers are looking for, or you may have a serious conversation with your real estate agent as to what steps you need to take to finally get your home sold. Whatever approach you decide to take, you can relax a bit knowing that you’re heading in the right direction when it comes to getting your home sold.

Stage 7: Acceptance

The final step within the seven stages of grief is acceptance. This is the stage your testing has paved the way for—where you begin to accept your fate and move forwards in life. Many people confuse this stage with transitioning back to their normal self, but that’s not usually the case. Instead of thinking, “it’s okay that my home is not worth as much as I thought,” it’s something more along the lines of, “my home is not worth as much as I thought, but I know how to move forward.” From here you will most likely be able to make that decision you’ve been putting off—whether it’s reducing price, updating your home, or even listing with a real estate agent to begin with. Essentially you’re coming back to reality, a reality in which you’re able to navigate your emotions and make an appropriate, informed decision. You’re no longer bitter, angry, or trying to bargain for an unrealistic outcome. It’s finally time to buckle down and make the necessary changes to get your home sold and rid yourself of your home selling stress!

Selling a home is difficult, and many sellers inevitably find themselves stuck within one of the many stages of grief. As long as you stay calm and do your best to navigate the narrow straits, you can overcome and achieve your home selling goals!

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