Heart of Real Estate

This afternoon as I took a listing, I had finished explaining the agreement to the seller and was showing him where to sign, when he paused, pen raised, sadly stating, “This is the first time I’ve done this alone.” He had lost his partner of 40 years to cancer last September and now needs to sell their home.

In that one moment, the enormity of his loss and the task ahead of him seemed to come into focus and he struggled as he signed the agreement. I asked him if he would like to wait, but he insisted that he needed to turn the page and move on with his life. Selling their home was the first major step.

I put the rest of the disclosures aside, and asked him about his morning. He had taken a drive earlier in the day to explore some different neighborhoods that he is considering as a good area to meet new people. He brightened-up and spent the next 15 minutes telling me about how pleased he was with what he had discovered and seemed genuinely excited. We talked about what he would be looking for in a rental, and I of course told him I would be happy to help him in his search. We chatted about the logistics of actually moving and downsizing and he asked if I could help him locate a good moving company. I smiled and told him that I would do whatever I could to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Sometimes in the flurry of our dollar-crazy real estate world, I think that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that a home for most people is not only a financial investment, but a huge emotional investment. It’s the place where babies are raised, birthdays are celebrated, and loved ones are nursed. When a house has to be sold in a short sale, or because of divorce or death, or sometimes even relocation, I think there is a process of grieving that is often overlooked. Home is our stage, the backdrop for our lives. We paint it, decorate it and instill a little, or a lot, of who we are into the house, which makes the home distinctly ours.

As we walked around and I took photos, he shared little stories about the house and their time there and seemed to relax just being able to talk. I’m sure there will be several moments in the sales and moving process when he needs to stop and take a deep breath. I can’t be his therapist or his best friend, but I’ll do my best as his Realtor to provide a smooth transaction, support him by being responsive to his questions and needs, and most importantly, honor the real significance of his moving on.