Uncertainty Causes More Stress for Home Sellers than Repairs, Showings

Zillow, Seattle, said when it comes to selling a home, factors that traditionally have been harder for sellers to control–such as uncertainty about timing and price–cause the most stress.

The 2019 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trend Report, a survey of U.S. home buyers, sellers, owners and renters, found not knowing if a home will sell within the desired time frame is the largest source of stress for sellers, with 56% calling it a stressful experience. Meanwhile, 53% of sellers worry about not being able to sell their home for the price they want; and 52% were stressed about an offer falling through.

The survey noted one reason timing and financing a home sale can be stressful is that many home sellers (64%) are buying another home at the same time. It said 51% of home sellers specifically found it stressful to time the sale of their current home with the purchase of a new one.

Additionally, more than half (52%) of home sellers worry about making improvements to get a home ready to sell. Maintaining a market-ready home is stressful for 43% of sellers, and 39% stress about leaving the home for tours and open houses.

“The two most stressful questions when selling a home–what price it will sell for and how long it will take–are top of mind from the very beginning of the home selling process and can have a big financial impact,” said Skylar Olson, director of economic research with Zillow. “Those outcomes could ultimately be the difference between retiring now or six months later or having to pay a new mortgage and rent in a temporary home. 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. But because there are so many decisions to make, those two most important of outcomes remain largely uncertain until the curtain closes.”

The survey said for younger or less experienced home sellers, the potential stresses of putting a home on the market are magnified. Younger sellers are more likely to worry about leaving the house during tours and open houses than older sellers and Generation Z or millennial home sellers are more likely to feel stressed due to a lack of control over the selling process than sellers in older generations. Olsen said the uncertainty and unpredictability of the traditional home selling process causes many home sellers to hit a breaking point–previous Zillow research found that more than one-third of home sellers cry when selling a home, and more Americans are stressed out by selling a home than they are by planning a wedding or getting fired.