The FINANCIAL -- A recent article on HouseingWire.com has proclaimed that buying a home is “the most stressful event in modern life.” More stressful than a job interview? More stressful than public speaking? More stressful than selling a home?!
Buying A Home Vs. Selling A Home: The Stress Test
Buying a home and selling a home are obviously both stressful events. Quite a bit of thought, consideration, time and effort go into each endeavor. And both parties feel the weight and pressure of conducting what is usually the largest monetary transaction of their lives.
However, we’re giving the edge, stress-wise, to selling and here’s why: the amount of work, effort and money that go into prepping a home to be ready for sale.
In our humble opinion, this prep work far outweighs any stress associated with home buying. Oh yeah, you also have to keep that perfectly prepped house that way the whole time you show it. Piece of cake, right?
The Pain Of Prepping A Home For Sale
On the buyer’s side, there’s simply no comparison to preparing a home for sale. Sure, buyers might spend hours on the computer looking at home after home on the internet, or touring home after home in person, but that pales in comparison to all the work and dollars that go into getting those homes ready for sale.
Cleaning, fixing/upgrading, curb appeal, decluttering, staging and showing all dwarf any stressful experience on the buyer’s side. Let’s take a look at each one in detail.
Understanding The Financials
While first-time buyers are certain to encounter some costs they hadn't accounted for, such as property surveys and agency fees, first-time sellers are set for an even greater shock. For starters, acquiring a Zillow Zestimate doesn't provide an accurate insight into how much your home will sell for. A professional and personalized quote is essential.
Moreover, you'll have to research the marketing costs, realtor expenses, and potential overheads associated with putting your possessions in storage. When added to the fact most sellers will also be looking to buy a property too, regardless of whether they're upsizing or downsizing, there's no doubt that sellers are under greater stress.
Any home that goes up for sale needs a good scrubbing. We’re talking spring-cleaning-on-steroids type of clean. From the ceiling fan dust to that area under the couch that the vacuum can’t reach, you need to make your home sparkle from top to bottom. A home full of dust, stains and weird odors won’t impress buyers and will never fetch top dollar.
You can put in the time and elbow grease yourself or hire professionals, or a combo of both. The cleaning must be deep and thorough, because those stressed-out home buyers will be running a white glove over every surface.
On top of that, after the initial deep clean, you’ll need to keep your house “clean” 24/7 for a good month or two. Agents will bring buyers around for viewings at all times of the day and you and your home have to be ready to impress. Who’s more stressed in that situation, hmmmm?
Repairs & Upgrades
You probably have a list, either written down or in your head, of things you need or want to fix in your home. They can be small things like squeaky doors or leaky faucets. They can also be major things that you don’t want to spend the money on, such as loose flooring tiles or landscaping an entire backyard.
Major repairs need to be addressed and small fixes need to be knocked out if you’re going to be a successful home seller. Of course, you can ignore these things and sell “as is”, but you will get significantly less money for your home. Buyers want turnkey homes that are ready to move into with no problems or items to be repaired.
Curb appeal is a mix of deep cleaning and fixing up combined, but it applies to the exterior of the home, in the front yard. When a would-be buyer is walking up to your front door, they should be “wowed” by what they see and encouraged to view the rest of the home. This first impression goes a long way with buyers, as many make up their minds within the first few seconds of viewing a home whether they will buy it or not.
Sprucing up the curb appeal includes such things as basic gardening upkeep, a fresh mowed lawn and trimmed hedges, planting some colorful flowers, painting your front door, a new welcome mat, power washing your front porch and front door, getting a new mailbox, and the list goes on and on.
Point is, it’s not something that happens in one afternoon. It may take several weeks and you have to keep it up during the whole home showing process. You prep it to the max and the buyers waltz by and judge. Who’s more stressed at that point?
Back to your home’s interior. Decluttering means just what it sounds like: getting rid of all the clutter!
Anything that you don’t use or need on a daily basis is considered clutter. Every little memento, all that stuff on your fridge, any personal pictures, religious and political items, just about everything that isn’t nailed down needs to be packed up and stored away.
During the time your home is up for sale, you’ll essentially be a minimalist. And while that might sound kind of soothing and new agey, it might be difficult to deal with if you’re used to having all your stuff at arm’s length.
Home staging is part science, part smoke and mirrors. Painting rooms in neutral tones and giving extra rooms a specific purpose makes sense. Pulling furniture away from the walls to create the illusion of more space is crazy–but it works!
Home staging can be done on your own or you can hire a professional. They will move your furniture around to create better flow and sightlines. They’ll display and hang up artwork and art that blends in yet doesn’t stand out. They’ll dress up drab areas with flowers and plants, both real and fake. All in the name of making your home a neutral space so that potential buyers can see themselves in it.
This is probably the most stressful part of the whole process. Showing your home involves a ton of prep work (which we just went over) to get it to where you can show it.
Then, you have to keep the home in that shape and drop everything you’re doing to accommodate agents and buyers who want to tour it. You come home from work and three business cards are lying on your entryway table, which means three different groups walked through your home that day. You could be in the middle of making dinner on a weekday night and the Realtor calls, “We’re dropping by in half an hour.” You’re washing the dog on a Saturday, “We’re bringing people over this afternoon.” Lather, rinse, repeat.
Keeping your home constantly spotless and staged is a burden. It puts you on edge. Complete strangers going through all your things and peeking in all your drawers (and in some cases, taking things!), is unnerving to saw the least.
Throw in kids, a job, pets, and life in general, and things can really start to unravel. The steps and process of buying a home, while certainly stressful in their own right, are simply not as stressful as selling.
Plus, if you’re buying a home, you can stop and take break any time you want. If you don’t feel like it that day, you can skip the open house or pause your house hunt. On the other hand, the home seller does not have this option; home selling doesn’t end until the home is sold.
Okay, so it’s not a competition. Buying a home can be a headache too, especially for first-timers. And financing and closing is no walk in the park. But there’s also this underlying element of excitement during the buying process that is pretty much absent on the selling side.
Bottom line, selling and buying a home are both stressful, but selling takes the crown.
As for sellers, eventually you will get through the process and sell your home just fine. A few weeks or months of hard work and inconvenience will pay off and you’ll happily move on to the next chapter in your life.
With so many options and choices available now, selling a home can be confusing and chaotic. That’s part of why the newly launched Sold.com gives home sellers guidance, helpful tips and personal solutions in the world of home selling.