Why haven’t you listed your house or condominium unit for sale? PJ Wade explores whether the decision not to sell and move is the result of your active exploration of housing and lifestyle options or inertia, and which is the smarter homeownership approach.
You have not listed your house or condominium unit for sale. Why?
Is the decision not to sell and move the result of your active exploration of housing and lifestyle options or is it inertia?
Inertia, or the trend toward passiveness or inactivity, describes, in physics, the tendency of a body at rest to stay at rest unless external energy is applied.
In real estate terms, this means you’ll stay where you are unless an external force or change–positive or negative–catalyzes you into action and makes moving the right thing to do:
• It’s inertia if you wait to see what happens and take no action yourself. If you stay in your home or recreational property for another year without researching your other options and making a conscious decision to stay, inertia has set in. You’re not in control of your future with this passive wait-and-see approach.
• When you actively explore your housing and lifestyle options, you may discover a more fulfilling or affordable lifestyle is possible by moving to a different property in the area or by leaving this location for another part of the country. Employment, family, health, and financial changes–positive or negative–are the most common catalysts for acting to achieve lifestyle or housing change.
Should you stick with inertia and wait until something happens to trigger or force a move or should you be more proactive about your real estate options?
• When selling and moving is triggered by an external force or a circumstance forced on you, like unemployment, you may have to act quickly and make snap judgements about what to do next. “Wait-and-see” thinking may leave you unprepared to take advantage of available opportunities until it’s too late. For instance, once a “hot market” peaks and disappears, high selling prices disappear, too. If you waited to see what happened before acting, you may have missed out.
• If you maintain awareness of what is going on in the real estate market, what your housing and lifestyle options are, and why this home is right for you and your family at this point in time, you are well-prepared to react to unexpected change without missing out on available opportunities. For instance, when you set a goal of eventually up-grading and moving into a larger home or a neighborhood with better schools, you’ll naturally keep an eye on those locations with the help of a real estate professional. A drop in housing prices in those preferred areas may trigger a move. Or, at least you’ll take a close look to see if this is the time to cash-in your current real estate and invest in property that may appreciate more quickly.
Inertia is fed by assumptions–things we assume will continue, things we assume will never happen, and things we assume we can control when we can’t. The list differs with individuals and families.
This might not be the best time for you to list your home. To make the most of real estate ownership, that should be an active decision based on knowledge of the current real estate market and many other factors relevant to you and your goals. This annual review is one of the many services offered by real estate professionals, usually at no charge.
Staying and letting another year speed by without making sure you are really in the right place may cost you in the long run:
• Time speeds up and suddenly that full renovation you struggled through is 10 years old and already showing its age. That means, there’s work ahead to keep your home modernized. Is this the best property to invest more time and money in?
• What attracted you to the house or neighborhood when you first bought? Is that still why you love it or have your tastes and lifestyle moved on? If you or the neighborhood have changed enough that you don’t feel as excited about exploring locally, is it time for a fresh start?
• Do you have little in common with neighbors, so you spend more time alone or have to travel to spend time with friends or those with similar interests?
• Do you have more fun on vacation, especially on over-winter extended stays, than during most of the year at home?
These are a few inertia-busting ideas to start you thinking about what more you could have. Search out a real estate professional who respects your wish to stay and your intent to keep exploring options associated with a move. Say a firm “goodbye” to anyone aggressive or who pressures you to list.
You’ll appreciate help, beginning with answers to questions like, “If I didn’t live here, where could I afford to move to–near or far?”
Personal introspection will enable you to further assess your situation:
• What or whom do I/we need to be near?
• What or whom do I/we want to be near?
• What do I/we love about the home that we would want to duplicate in our next property?
• What do we want to do differently?
As a real estate owner, you have the right to continually explore the potential of your investment and to decide to do nothing and stay where you are.
That’s not inertia. Once you understand your options, that “stay here” decision may represent good business sense and solid property management to protect and improve on your investment and chosen lifestyle.
All it takes is a little asking, answering, “what if”-ing, and day dreaming with your family and a real estate professional or two who respect your curiosity about what could be next.