Is seller’s remorse real?

In a recent transaction, my clients had a three-day-long delay in negotiations because the seller was experiencing “seller’s remorse,” according to her agent. Is this for real?

I have seen seller’s remorse. It happens when the seller cares more about the space than about the money that will be exchanged for the space. Insecurity about getting the best price can lead to seller’s remorse. But, sometimes, no sale price is high enough to prevent remorse.


swingsetSellers have mixed feelings when it comes to their family home. The house holds memories of times spent there, children growing up, holidays and parties, or departed family members. The sale is a physical reminder that those times (and those people) are gone.

I have heard tale of adult children having nightmares about the next family that is buying their childhood home. Parents are giving up the place where their children learned to walk, or first played piano, or graduated from high school.

It can take months – or even years – for an elderly owner to decide to leave the large, family-sized house for easier-to-tend, smaller housing. Once that decision is made, sorting the contents of the house will take more months, and maybe more years. The move is a physical relief when it is done, but for some it feels like defeat.

Trading up:broken heart

Seller’s remorse is not limited to big, family-sized houses. Smaller places are where people lived when they fell in love, when they married, and sometimes through a child’s infancy. If the sellers are heading on to bigger and better, seller’s remorse is unlikely. But, if the sale is the death-knell of the relationship fostered in that space, seller’s remorse applies.

Wolves at the door:

When sellers must sell to make ends meet, seller’s remorse is common. No one wants to lose in real estate. During recessions, seller’s remorse is common.

Takeaway: In most cases, the emotion passes and the sale goes on. As a buyer’s agent, I must trust that my colleagues, the seller’s agents, behave honorably and with sensitivity when emotions run high.

Leave a Reply