It's Complicated

It's Complicated

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Selling a home and moving is complicated. No wonder there is so much anxiety about the process - there are so many uncertainties and so many critical decisions to make. Where is the next home going to be? What are the numbers - list price, sale price, and costs of sale? When is all of this going to happen? And there are so many moving pieces - Who can help? What needs to be done, and in what order? Who will be on "the team", and when do those team members need to be included? How long will it take for everything to come together? Why can't a fairy simply waive a magic wand and make everything over? Please.
I met last week with a mature couple wanting to move in together. Lauren and Rob are in their early fifties with unique needs and priorities. Each has a home; she has a small coop apartment in a prime location on the Upper West Side that she purchased twenty years ago that she needs to sell. He has a rental in the 'burbs near his teenage children. Lauren works in Midtown; Rob works from home.
Her home is too small for both of them; his home is too far from her work.
Should they sublet Lauren's coop, and rent an apartment together before buying something, or should she sell? Should Rob renew his lease, take something smaller and less expensive, or not have a place in the 'burbs at all? Should they maintain two places? Where should they live? What can they realistically afford? What should they do first? What if their relationship does not work out? Oy!
When we had our preliminary "chemistry meeting" at her coop, I gave them a little gift. I was taught to never come empty-handed to someone's home. The gift was a 16-piece jigsaw puzzle; relevant because moving homes is very much like assembling a puzzle: imagining what the end will look like; strategizing about how to get there; setting priorities, creating a plan and implementing it; deciding which pieces need to be put in place first, second, and so on, until the final pieces become apparent, and the desired result is eventually achieved.
There are often multiple ways to arrive at the ultimate destination, but which route and which tactics will work best and be most efficient? How do you leave your options open and maintain flexibility? What about all the unknowns?
I realized after I met with Lauren and Rob that the decision-making process differs for everyone, and is at least twice as hard when multiple parties are involved. Lauren and Rob have their style, thoughts, preferences, needs, and ideas. How do they collectively arrive at the same decision-making page? This is where the expert broker comes in - orchestrating and facilitating the process. Asking the right questions. Explaining the options. Helping the parties understand the likely consequences at each fork in the road. Moving the puzzle pieces so the players can see the best result. All the while, encouraging patience and understanding.
The process takes time. Just because Lauren and Rob have not followed up with me yet does not mean that they have changed their minds about moving or hiring me. Rather, they are analyzing, process, and deciding. At their own pace and timetable. In their unique, joint, decision-making style. I can't force it or rush it. Nor should I try to do so. Let the process comfortably unfold. Be there to answer questions and offer guidance when asked.
Eventually, everyone chooses how to proceed. Alone or with help. I think it is easier to have others help, but people sometimes need to piece together the puzzle by themselves. Let them. Provide the tools they need to make their own best choices in their time frame, be there if needed, and then get out of their way.

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