How to Emotionally Detach from a Property Before Selling

Congratulations– you’ve made the decision to sell your property! You can live somewhere new, say goodbye to annoyances, and potentially fulfill your dreams with the profit.

Although selling is an exciting prospect, it’s also emotionally challenging. After all, you’ve made a lot of memories in your home. You may have grown your family, hosted parties and gatherings, and undertaken thoughtful renovations. Over the years, the house became more than a shelter. It became your home.

Many of the families we work with have lived in their houses for 20-30 years. It’s no wonder they feel attached to their properties.

Thing is, you need to emotionally detach from your property to sell it. Emotionally detachment will help make the selling process seamless and stress free. It will also make it easier to make decisions that ultimately maximize the sale price.

By the time you list your home, you should feel as though it’s no longer yours. It’s normal for that to sound daunting! Here’s how to emotionally detach from a property before selling.

How to Emotionally Detach from a Property Before Selling

Understand why you need to emotionally detach

Selling a house may seem straightforward. Logically, it’s time to sell. It’s only a house, after all. But it’s worth considering the emotional side. Most of us develop deep relationships with our homes and have trouble saying goodbye.

But emotionally detaching is important. Here’s why.

Maximize enjoyment of your home while it’s still yours

In our 20+ years of experience helping sellers, we’ve seen sellers rush the emotional process and others who wait too long. Both groups make the process harder on themselves. If you work through this process, thinking carefully about your relationship with the property, you will have a positive and easier transition by maximizing the enjoyment of your home for the time you have it. You will get to throw one last party or simply enjoy sipping a drink or reading a book in your favorite spot. By enjoying these last moments and taking the time to say goodbye, you will gradually ease into celebrating the new family that will take ownership of your property.

Reduce stress during home sale process

If you feel too emotionally connected to the home, it will be difficult to set it up for visitors and open houses. For example, we’ve heard sellers ask that no one sit on a couch or touch a particular vase. Imagining prospective buyers near these items caused the seller stress due to their attachment to them. After considering the stress of what could happen when the property was listed, the seller decided it was best to pack these items away to protect them. If you have anything emotionally valuable, take those items out and thereby reduce your worry and stress. 

Honor your memories and valuables

Take the time you need to enjoy and share memories with friends and family, then decide how you want to celebrate these memories. You could pack items away for safekeeping or give them to a family member who loves and appreciates them as much as you do.

Command a higher sale price

You don’t want to let your emotional attachment get in the way of decisions that will make your home more attractive to prospective buyers. For example, you may have decided to repurpose your dining room into an office because it’s a much more practical use of the space. Even though you feel strongly that the dining room is useless, it might be important to showcase it for prospective buyers, ultimately making buyers more excited about the property. You don’t want your feelings to get in the way.

The bottom line? You want to take the time to savor your memories so then you can shift gears and prep your property to allow buyers to imagine their new memories there. Your memories are precious and yours to keep, but moving means your house will be filled with a new family and new memories. Let buyers dream!

9 Practical tips for the process

Now that you know why emotional detachment from a property is so important, it’s time to start the process. Here are 9 practical bits of advice we’ve collected in our 20+ years of helping sellers move on. 

1. Celebrate and thank the home

It’s time to acknowledge that your home has served and provided you very well for many years. Celebrate this and feel thankful for the years of shelter the space has provided. Recap the memories and milestones, think about how many years you have been there, and share these stories with your loved ones. 

2. Start calling it a “property”

It’s a subtle language switch, but calling the house “a property” creates some healthy emotional distance as you embark on this process. Remember, just because you’re now calling it a property does not mean that it was never your home. Your memories stay in your head and your heart and you’re bringing your personal possessions along with you, as well. Work on the emotional switch of home to property and prioritize taking key items with you that will help you feel at home in the next place.

3. Pack away valuables and mementos while you reminisce

As part of the home selling process, you’ll need to pack up valuables and mementos. Use this as an opportunity to treasure your memories. Share items and stories with friends and consider having a party as closure to the wonderful memories in your home. This is a great step to do with your family. As you reminisce, start pre-packing to protect those valuables and mementos. If you have favorite spots in the home, consider taking photographs that you can frame and hang in your new home.

4. Focus on the goals and reasons for your move

You’re selling for a reason. Focus on where you are going with this transition. Why are you making the move? Is it to be closer to family? Is it for more financial freedom? To travel? These clear goals and outcomes will help you mentally prepare and focus on the positive reasons for your move.

Wait! When should I start working with a real estate agent? We have helped people through this entire process starting at step one but for sure engage a realtor by at least step 4 where you plan out your finances and goals for the new home and then evaluate how to showcase it to today's buyers.

5. Prepare to showcase the property

Get an objective eye to help you evaluate the property. Clear counters, shelves, and surfaces from personal items. Look objectively at your property and how you can improve the way it shows to potential buyers. Keep out only what you need to live the next couple months. Then sort items you are not using the next couple months: 

Here is where an experienced real estate agent is very helpful. Focus on what really shows off your property. This is the point in time where you start to behave as if your property was already sold and make it look like a model home that is no longer yours. Remember, you are selling your property, not your home, so some changes are likely necessary to showcase your property in the best way to today’s buyers.    

Looking for more advice on how to prepare your property? Check out Phase 2 in our home selling guide.

6. Start working through your to-do list

Once you’ve purged and prepped your property to be showcased as a model home, start working through your to-do list. This is the time to take on repairs and refreshes. Once the property is in top working condition, deep clean the property so it looks as good as possible for showings. 

7. Say goodbye… again

Now that you’ve worked to prepare the property, it likely looks very different. It’s time to say goodbye… again. Revisit the memories brought up in step 1 and recognize that it's time to market and show off your property to the next family who will call it home. Be proud that you are living in a showcase property (not your home) while you prepare and plan your next home. 

8. Refer to your next destination as home

Just like you began calling your old house your “property,” you should also refer to your new destination as “home.” It’s a subtle language switch that makes all the difference. Look forward to putting your valuables, memories, photos, and personal property into your new home. 

9. Take a piece of your old property with you

Just because you’re selling this property does not mean it has to be gone forever. Many sellers take a piece of their old property with them– things like a yard clipping or photo of the home that can be placed in a special spot in the new home. Home is where your heart is so honor this home and move onto the next.

Moving on to the next chapter

Emotionally detaching from a property can be hard, but it’s key to making the home selling process as seamless as possible. If you’d like to sell your home in San Jose and get a sneak peek of how to showcase your home to buyers today, book a free seller consultation.

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