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Seller’s remorse – what it is and how to handle it

Picture this: You’ve sold your property. You might have even celebrated that sale. But then…the doubts creep in.

You begin scouring real estate sites online, wondering if you’ve made the right decision to leave your neighbourhood. You start looking too closely at potential new homes and convince yourself that your old place was probably better.

Or perhaps you’ve been listening to your friends, or your accountant (or even your barista) share their thoughts that the BIG property boom is just around the corner.

Whatever the reason, there is one inevitable conclusion: you’ve changed your mind. You’ve got seller’s remorse!

Understanding seller’s remorse

Even the best-laid plans can go wrong, sometimes, and in the case of selling a property, it’s natural to have second thoughts – especially if you’ve lived, laughed and loved in the property you’ve decided to put on the market.

But what happens when you change your mind and want to pull out of the previously agreed contract?

This guide to the realities of seller’s remorse will help you understand your rights and responsibilities when selling your property.

The reality of seller’s remorse

The truth is, even if you achieved the best possible price for your property, it’s natural to start doubting yourself – especially when one of the biggest transactions of your life is on the table.

You’re not alone – and, if you’re selling AND buying at the same time, you might even be suffering from additional stress by over-thinking how much you’ve paid for your next property, as well as how much your own sale attracted.

To help put your mind at ease, it’s important to tell yourself that these feelings are quite common. Knowledge is power, though. Look at comparable sales prices in your area. If you are sure that you gave your property its best possible chance, with a strong marketing presentation – and if the broader market conditions have not changed too significantly – chances are the price you sold for is the best you could have achieved.

By recognising that every property is different for a variety of reasons, it will help you appreciate that properties do not have a ‘correct’ selling price.

Fair market price is about a range, rather than a set number, and exactly what a buyer is prepared to pay depends on their own circumstances, including their own financial position and how emotionally connected they are to your property.

The cost of seller’s remorse

As a vendor experiencing seller’s remorse, it’s important to understand that certain actions taken (which may be in response to an emotional reaction) can have financial and legal consequences. If you fail to meet your obligations under a contract then – depending on the terms of the agreement and the rules of your state or territory – you could be found to be in breach of the contract for sale and may be liable for certain costs incurred by the buyer as a result of that breach or, you may be required to proceed with the sale despite your wishes.

If you breach the contract, you may be required to repay any costs that the buyer has incurred – such as building inspections, pest reports, legal and conveyancing fees, real estate fees and other reasonable out-of-pocket expenses. You may also be required to compensate the real estate agent for their marketing costs and loss of commission.

In legal terms, the losses suffered by the buyer and the real estate company involved that you might be liable to pay are called ‘damages’ and if you refuse to pay any damages you are liable for, the buyer may take action against you in a court to recover those damages.

If you breach the contract, the buyer may also take court action against you and try to obtain a ruling that requires you to proceed with the sale.

Whether you’re buying or selling property, it is always a significant transaction. It is strongly recommended that you seek professional advice before making a decision that could result in you not meeting your obligations under the contract. That is, you should seek legal advice before taking any action that could see you in breach of the contract of sale.

Seller’s remorse is often about mixed emotions, the challenge of saying goodbye to a property you’ve loved and managing the memories that you made there. By recognising the emotions you may be experiencing, you could avoid making a potentially costly decision that could result in a breach of your contract, when you could, instead, try to focus on your future at your new home. If, after careful consideration, you still do not want to proceed with the sale, you should seek legal advice about what options (if any), might be available to you.

Focus on the positives – not the negatives

With enough scrutiny, you’ll likely find a similar property that has achieved a better sale price, but it’s also just as likely there are similar properties that have sold for less.
Instead of turning your attention to what might have been, focus on the future stretching out ahead of you. A new property, new neighbourhood and the potential for new opportunities and amazing adventures.

Have a question about the conveyancing process? Or want to speak to a member of our team?

We’re here to help. You can get in touch on 1300 932 738.

This article is provided for general information purposes only. Its content is current at the date of publication. It is not legal advice and is not tailored to meet your individual needs. You should obtain specialist advice based on your specific circumstances before taking any action concerning the matters discussed in this article.

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