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VOL. 40 | NO. 15 | Friday, April 8, 2016

5 stages of grief in letting go of the ‘perfect’ house

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In real estate transactions involving the sale of a person’s primary residence – especially homes that have housed that person’s family for many years – there are emotions that run parallel to the stages of grief or loss.

In many cases, the homes are beloved by the owners, many of whom are moving for reasons that they did not anticipate. The stages of grief have been identified as: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Let’s deal with the denial stage first. In the listing of real estate, there is denial on many levels. Often, the owner would prefer to stay in the house, but is not able to do so. The move might be for monetary or health reasons.

In many instances, the seller is being coerced by the family to move into a retirement community, often after the loss of a spouse or partner, especially if the surviving partner is living in a home that requires considerable maintenance.

Many are in denial that they have reached the age that they would be allowed to reside in a retirement community at all.

One woman whose husband had died called her agent and told him that she had decided to move to the Cloister, a vibrant retirement neighborhood off Highway 70 next to St. Henry Catholic Church and adjacent to an assisted living facility.

She said, “I guess that I have reached the age that I move to the Triangle – spending some time at the Cloister, then they’ll move me to the assisted living home and finally over to the church.”

Denial was lost on her. She was ready.

Those moving for financial reasons are usually in denial and cannot believe whatever situation that caused the move actually occurred. Some businesses have failed after years of success and through no fault of the owner.

Then comes the anger stage.

Usually that occurs when the Realtor visits the home and suggests it is outdated. This might happen in a house that has not been touched in 50 years, a home constructed in the 1980s, or even a home that added a new kitchen in 2002.

And wait until they get the first feedback report from an agent who has shown their Shangri La.

Almost all real estate agents have systems in place that generate feedback request following showings. The showing agents are honest and sometimes blunt in their critiques of the homes.

“My buyer would have to totally gut the house” is a good example of a typical response. Another: “There is a horrible odor throughout the entire house.”

These comments carry very little weight as the homeowners feel those agents are fools and should have their licenses suspended if they don’t know a great house when they see one.

The anger really boils when the sellers get the first offer. It explodes when the inspection report finally hits.

Bargaining is the third phase on the list, and it is considerable throughout real estate transactions, though not the same bargaining as in the grief process.

Phase four is depression, and by now everyone involved is depressed.

Buyers feel they paid too much, and the sellers feel they were forced to give their house away for reason beyond their control. The sellers feel that their home was fine the way it was, and the buyers cannot believe how much cash they will lay out immediately upon moving into their new domicile.

Finally, there is acceptance. This is quite similar to those grieving, in that acceptance can take years to reach.

Sometimes everyone is happy at closing. Those are the good ones.

Sale of the Week

Houses selling for more than $1 million on Belmont Boulevard is now commonplace, but $1.55 million is one big number for any neighborhood in the Greater Nashville area and speaks to the popularity and desirability of the neighborhood whose homes would barely bring $100,000 in the early 1990s.

To his credit, Keith Merrill, the long, tall, lanky, presciently brilliant pioneer on Belmont Boulevard, known in some circles as THE Boulevard, having replaced the other THE Boulevard to the west. Merrill purchased a residence, renovated, restored and owned arguably the best home on the boulevard for years.

Last week the property at 2503 Belmont Boulevard sold $1.55 million the first day on the market. With 4,588 square on the first three floors, it sold for $337 per square foot.

Merrill, who knows his way around an historic home, noted that “History seamlessly blends with the modern addition. Open concept living /eating/dining on the main floor with a laundry and a private master suite-suite on the second floor.”

Merrill wrote that Carrera marble and stainless steel were included in the kitchen.

Richard Courtney is a real estate broker with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at richard@richardcourtney.com

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