Survey: Unknowns cause the greatest stress in selling a home
Home sales rarely come without at least some stress for the homeowner putting their property on the market. A recent survey by the real estate site Zillow found that unknown factors, such as how long the home remained on the market, were more stressful than more controllable aspects such as staging the home for sale.
As part of its 2019 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trend Report, Zillow asked home sellers about the issues that proved most aggravating to them. The report included responses from 3,000 people who sold their primary residence within the past 12 months. Nearly all of these respondents—95 percent—said some aspect of the home selling process caused them stress.
The most common stressor was the uncertainty over whether the home would sell within the desired timeframe. Fifty-six percent said this issue caused them stress. Concern over the sale price was the next most likely factor to distress a homeowner, with 53 percent saying they had worried about this issue.
"In the traditional market, all sorts of decisions that influence the final sale price and closing date are in your control – like whether or not to repaint the well-worn kitchen or spruce up the landscaping," said Skylar Olson, director of economic research at Zillow. "But because there are so many decisions to make, those two most important of outcomes remain largely uncertain until the curtain closes."
Zillow noted how the timing of a sale was likely to cause stress because many sellers—64 percent—were trying to purchase their next home at the same time. Fifty-two percent said they were worried that an offer might fall through, while 51 percent said they found it stressful to time the sale of their previous home with the purchase of their next one.
Forty-six percent said they had been stressed by their lack of control in the overall selling process or timeline. Forty-four percent said they had worried about not knowing whether buyers were seriously interested in their property, and 40 percent said negotiating with buyers was stressful.
Among the aspects that could be controlled more readily, sale preparations were most likely to cause sellers stress. Fifty-two percent said it had been stressful to complete home improvements or otherwise ready the property for the market.
Forty-three percent said it was stressful to keep their home clean and ready for open houses or showings. Thirty-nine percent said the same about leaving the home for tours or open houses.
Zillow determined that first-time sellers were often more likely than repeat sellers to be stressed by certain aspects of a home sale. Forty-one percent of those selling a home for the first time found it stressful to look for a competitive interest rate on their next home purchase, compared to just 17 percent of repeat sellers. Thirty-nine percent said it was stressful deciding whether to sell and give up a current low interest rate, just over twice the share of repeat sellers. Forty-five percent of first-time sellers were stressed by unexpected aspects of the sale process, compared to just 29 percent of repeat sellers.
The report also found that younger homeowners were more likely to be stressed by certain aspects of the sale process, likely because they were selling for the first time while older homeowners had done so at least once. For example, 55 percent of Generation Z sellers found it stressful to leave their home when potential buyers visited, compared to just 21 percent of Silent Generation sellers.