Why Selling a House is Stressful

selling a house is stressful

We’re in the process of selling our home and moving to a new house in December. Between the two events – selling and buying – there is a clear winner when it comes to which is more stressful. Selling our home is by far more stressful.

I was surprised to learn that neither selling nor buying a home is listed in the Holmes – Rahe Stress Scale. There are several events that relate to home selling or buying (#20 major mortgage and #32 change in residence) but nothing more specific. Personally I’d rank selling or buying a home higher than #41 vacation. Taking a vacation is a good thing, right?

OK, so here’s why selling a house stresses me out.

Finding the Right Realtor

We put a lot of thought into what qualities we want our agent to have. We considered three and went with the one we felt most comfortable with. After working with them for several months, there are good things and bad things. Of course, the bad things drive me nuts and it falls to my wife to keep me grounded.

It Disrupts Your Life

There are times when our lives resemble a fireman when the alarm sounds. When we’re notified of a showing (sometimes with little time to spare) we spring into action to turn our house into a model home. Then we have to disappear sometimes for more than an hour. To save time, we live in a state of constantly putting stuff away and cleaning. While we have mastered the drill, it has gotten old.


Many home sellers have to sell before a deadline. For us it is closing on a new home. For others it’s the start of a new school season or a new job. Deadlines amplify a sense of urgency and affect how you sell your house.

Past Decisions Come Back to Haunt You

We live in the Phoenix area where annual rain is around 12 inches. Homes in our neighborhood are around 20 years old which means that it’s time to think about replacing roofs. A common practice here is that people wait for a leak and then just repair enough of their roof to fix that isolated problem. That’s probably OK except for the fact that we had over 6” of rain in October 2018. That led to all kinds of problems and unintended consequences. If I had it to do over again, I would have replaced the entire roof after discovering our first leak, because delaying has cost us several times over.

It’s Emotional

Your house is special. It contains many life memories. You’ve made updates and improvements that have cost time and money. So it’s hard to separate how you feel about your house and value it vs. what the market says your house is worth. So when you hear unflattering comments or receive a low ball offer, you’re offended and upset.

It’s Expensive

The entire end-to-end process is expensive. You have to pay a realtor enough commission to motivate them to sell your house; set a market-driven price which may be lower than what you think you should get; make repairs and updates; stage your house; possibly put stuff into storage; and hire a reputable moving company.


Even though this isn’t the first time I’ve sold a house, it feels different for many reasons:  the timing of when to sell a house in Phoenix is unique; houses with less square footage command higher prices per square foot; and there are types of home buyers (many looking for a second home) that I have not encountered before. However, one thing that feels the same is the level of stress .

One thought on “Why Selling a House is Stressful

  1. We downsized our house this spring. I *hated* everything about the selling process. We pushed through and got it down pretty quickly, but still managed to squeeze in bad feelings with the buyer. Fortunately, our agent was great throughout.

    On the other side, looking for the new place was fun. We ended up renting (and love it!) while we take our time to figure out what we want to buy long term. You’re right – totally the opposite experience.

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