This year has been anything but predictable. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have learned how to work and learn outside of the physical office and classroom, spent long stretches of time at home, and made major lifestyle changes, such as moving. 

I’ve been in real estate for over 30 years and I know that in normal circumstances, it can be tough to find the right home. Having worked with hundreds of clients, I also know that it can be challenging to part with a home you truly love. Nowadays, these experiences may be even more difficult or emotional. 

As I’ve said for years, “buying is romance and selling is finance.” And keeping this phrase in mind can help you approach buying and selling with the right mindset — setting you up for success, and less stress, when buying or selling a home. Here’s how: 

1. Reduce stress by knowing what you really need.

Much like looking for love, finding the right home is about developing a wishlist of criteria and qualities to help in your search for the perfect fit. And, in today’s digital world, narrowing down neighborhoods and browsing home listings can feel a lot like evaluating a potential date. 

Many people have found that their needs have changed amidst the pandemic. Whether you’re looking for more outdoor space or now require an extra room for a home office, making an updated list of what you truly need can help you streamline your search, stay focused, and save energy.

Ready to swipe right on the home of your dreams? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How does a home stack up against my/our list of wants and needs?
  • Are there things I/we may be able to compromise on, like an extra bedroom or big front porch?
  • Which aspects — be it a garage or extra storage space — are non-negotiable? 

2. Lean into good vibes—and trust your gut.

Because buying is a more romantic experience, tapping into emotion is a good way to gauge whether or not a home may be “right” for you and your family. You might experience a rush of excitement, sense of disappointment, or have no strong feelings at all. Pay attention to how you feel during a virtual tour, while driving up to the home, or stepping inside.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my current house. I was instantly struck by the greenhouse in the backyard. I began fantasizing about becoming a great gardener or transforming it into a creative studio or guest house. Ask yourself: “What strikes me about this? Can I imagine living in this home?” Whether it’s a large yard for hosting socially distant barbecues with neighbors or a basement you could transform into a gym, lean into it. What you can see can be.

3. Ease up on self-pressure and stay open to possibilities.

Working with hundreds of clients over the years, I’ve seen a lot of people put heavy pressure on themselves to find the perfect home. If you’re stressed or upset about missing out on “the one” during your search, it can be helpful to remember that there’s more than one dream home for everyone. This is especially important if you’re house hunting in a competitive market where homes are moving quickly right now.

On the other hand, it’s also good to remember that you don’t need to settle for a home that doesn’t feel right either. Your early instincts are often telling and it’s OK if you’re not ready to commit just yet. If you have the time, stay open to possibilities and keep looking; you never know when you’ll find the ideal fit. After all, there are few feelings worse than the anxiety that comes with going against your gut.

4. Turn your focus to appreciation when selling a home.

Are you feeling stressed, uncertain, or even sad about putting your home on the market? If so, know that your feelings aren’t uncommon — even if your decision is a smart financial move for you or your family. 

If you’re struggling with these emotions, turn your focus toward appreciation. As buying is romance, selling is finance. If your home increased in value while you owned it, you may be able to use your return to generate happiness for the future. For some people, this may mean being able to afford a home with more space or buying a “forever home.” For others, it may mean putting money into a retirement fund, a college fund for their kids, or even a vacation home.

There’s a second type of appreciation I like to think about too, and it’s a bit more personal. Ask yourself: “Did I enjoy living here?” “Did we make good memories here?” Reflecting on your favorite aspects of your home or the experience you had may empower you to move forward more easily.

I hope these stress-easing tips will help you see the big picture, feel more joy and a sense of accomplishment. It may also be helpful to remember that each experience is a milestone on a longer journey. If you can fully embrace each stage when you’re in it, you’ll be more confident moving on to your next chapter.