Which is Harder – Buying or Selling a Home?
Both sides of the real estate transaction present a number of challenges whether you are going through it for the first time or have bought and sold several homes. The dynamics of the market, the real estate professionals involved, and your own reasons for buying or selling change dramatically with every transaction. Your experiences, good, bad, or indifferent, add up to a uniquely personal perspective.
What makes buying or selling real estate so stressful? Is it having to buy or sell under pressure? the conditions of the market? the people with whom you must deal?
Buyers and sellers are only rookies once, but the home buying and selling experience can make you feel like a novice no matter how many times you have done it. I know – I just purchased my third home, and despite my experience on both sides of the negotiating table and having top-notch assistance in the form of a professional Realtor, I was still thrown a few curves that I wasn’t expecting. Intensifying the experience was the fact that both transactions took place within a 30-day period in one of the hottest real estate markets in years. By the time it was over, I felt shell-shocked. When I look back, I wonder, which was harder? Being a seller, or a buyer?
Buyers have a number of concerns based primarily on intangibles and unknowns. Their first question is will they get the loan and how much will the lender allow them? Then they must come up with ways to make the down payment, or if they are the more daring types, to swing a bigger loan.
As they pass this first hurdle, then they must evaluate the true cost of the home. How much extra will be needed to remodel, repair and decorate the home to my satisfaction? Does the home meet the family’s needs in terms of space, storage, and flow? What about schools, services, and shopping? How easy is it to get from home to work and other destinations? What are the neighbors like? What are the amenities of the neighborhood? Is this home the best deal out there for me and my family? Most buyers operate under a tremendous temporary financial strain as they balance living, moving, remodeling, and/or decorating costs. All of these questions produce special stress, even when you are buying the home of your dreams.
Sellers, on the other hand, are more interested in leaving the table with as much money as possible. The sales transaction is usually a means to an end, and the first step to a secondary goal – a different home or a different lifestyle. Unless they have a driving economic reason to sell, sellers are interested in the short-term and long-term costs and rewards of the transaction.
What will it take to prepare the home for sale? How much can be made after paying commissions and closing costs? Sellers are also concerned with the long-term effects of the sale, including tax consequences and the ability to purchase another home. Unfortunately, many owners find that they have not built enough equity in their homes to leave the table with much money and some find they must pay some amount in order to close the transaction.
In addition to these pressures, the seller’s life becomes an open book the moment their home is being marketed. Sellers experience substantial loss of privacy for months on end, and the home has to be kept in “show” condition, a strain for even the most avid housekeeper.
The best way to cope no matter what side of the transaction you are on is to keep your eye on the goal. Buyers, get pre-qualified so you know where you stand financially. Sellers, get the house in tip-top shape so you aren’t surprised by a devaluation in the market. Both sides, be prepared with paperwork and on time.
Listen to your Realtor’s advice. Remember that tempers may flare, but ultimately buyers and sellers want the same thing, for the home to close. And it may be no small advantage to you to know what your opponent is going through on the other side of the table.