Dave Porter

Moving Creates Choices, Causes Stresses

In 1990 I wrote an article for a newspaper about surviving the custom construction transaction. I opened the article with this statement: “Building a home has been described as the final test that your marriage is as solid as a rock.” 

The wear and tear on our emotions can really take their toll. When someone moves into the area there are many issues that need to be attended to: identifying a neighborhood in which to live, finding out about schools, churches, shopping, bus lines, commute time to work, parks, crime rate, services like cable, gas, and fiber optic. The savvy shopper will find out what the track record has been on school bond votes and also what the overall mill rate (property tax rate) is for the area.

Then there is working with these strangers, the Realtor who says they work for you but you don’t know them, and the lender, who tells you about several loan programs but says the choice is up to you. You suddenly have many choices and feel that you are in the middle of an Indiana Jones movie and someone is saying to you “Choose wisely.” You don’t want to make wrong decisions but you also don’t want to miss out on the right house and right interest rate. The kids are talking about how much they miss their old friends and neighborhood, and deep down inside, you hope the new job is right for you. A wave of fear and a second wave of stress comes over you. You’re excited and you’re scared to death all at the same time.

There can be a great deal of stress in the easiest of transactions. Even if everything goes well – no problems on the title, no work orders with the inspections and the appraisal being fine – there still can be wear and tear on our emotions.

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The seller is no better off. Is now the right time to sell? Are we getting top dollar? Seems like a hot market for sellers. Will we be able to afford the new home? And what about the memories? Johnny broke his arm climbing that tree, Sally got married in the gazebo. More than wood and land are being sold, a home represents a chapter in a person’s life.

Couples need to identify private time during a move to “check in” with each other. Ask each other how you are feeling and talk about both the excitement and the fears. Lack of this essential communication can cause feelings of alienation and being alone. 

There are some things you can do when dealing with stress. There have been several books and articles written about stress and stress management. Here are a few steps to take. 

First, acknowledge you’re stressed out. Has anyone ever said to you you’re upset and you scream back into his/her face that you’re not upset. So admit you’re stressed. Write down why you’re stressed; identify the event or events that caused the stress. Are they ongoing? Will they reoccur? Is it a one time event? One of the biggest favors you can do is to review and correct (if needed) your self-talk. We do a poor job of not controlling our negative self-talk. In 1994 I climbed Mt. Rainier in Washington state. People kept telling me it’s 70% mental and 30% physical. The climb was hard but you know, they were right. So much control is in our head. What’s the saying? “If you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.” 

Make plans for what needs to be done. Often stress occurs because we feel overwhelmed. Plan each step, create a checklist and systematically work through each task. Once you have done this you need to step back and see if you’re on the right track. You may need to go back and re-identify the problem(s) and try the steps again. Please don’t try to do it all yourself. Like in a marriage, use the resources around you that are willing and able to help.

The professionals who do this everyday, the Realtors, lenders, escrow closers and others involved in the home purchase or home selling process must do an exceptional job of empathizing with the seller or buyer. These professionals need to be good listeners and show real care. When selecting these professionals to work for you make sure they can not only provide you with the business knowledge and services but also the human side of the transaction.

Good luck, and remember: in a buying-selling-moving transaction keep your sense of humor and know that there is an end in sight!

Correction: in my last article “30 Bucks a Month,” I stated saving would be 13 years, the correct calculation is 13 months.

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