How to Manage the Emotional Side of Selling Your Family Home

The pencil marks on the door frame where you measured your son’s height, the backyard where you took your daughter’s prom photos, the kitchen where so many memorable family dinners took place…a well-loved family home is so much more than four walls providing shelter. Selling it means leaving a place that holds many memories.

According to the Census Bureau, 8.4 percent of the population moved in 2021. While over 40 percent of people moved because of price, 25 percent moved for family-related reasons, such as a death in the family or children growing up and leaving home. The average homeowner stays in the family home for over 13 years, and in the Northeast it’s closer to 15 years. Handling life’s milestones plus purging possessions you’ve accumulated over many years adds up to an emotionally complicated time.

There’s good news. Helping clients work through the emotional aspect of selling their home is a huge part of what I do. Sellers need someone who is calm and collected who won’t let feelings stand in the way of the end goal — a successful sale in the fastest amount of time at the highest price possible.

Letting Go

When you lived in a home for more than 15 years, you have a lot of time to develop attachments. You lose objectivity and ability to view things with a critical eye and that is why bringing in professionals to help with decluttering and staging is so essential.

Helping sellers prepare their homes for market means supporting them while sorting through clutter collected over the decades — much of it wrapped up in family memories. You need a partner in the process that is sensitive to the emotional connections who will provide a supportive shoulder to lean on while keeping their eye on the prize — packing up and paring down.

As a first step, I meet with my clients to assess their individual situation and provide a list of what needs to be done in their house. My recommendations address updates to the decor, depersonalizing, decluttering, and repairs and renovations that need to be made. With my extensive local network, I can also recommend and connect my clients with industry professionals to help bring the property up to date and make it market ready. This hands-on approach helps sellers feel less stressed and overwhelmed while beginning the detachment process from their well-loved home.

Putting a price on memories

When you haven’t bought or sold a house in several decades, you may not be familiar with current market conditions or pricing. And it’s often difficult to push memories and emotions aside to think about your home as a product on the market. You need a realtor who is prepared with data that will inform a competitive pricing strategy, so you have the best chance at achieving the highest price in the shortest amount of time.

When working with clients to determine price, I provide an up-to-date market analysis with comparable listings, pending sales, buyer demand, and other relevant data to drive the strategy. When armed with the facts, it’s easier to make your emotions take a back seat.

Whether it’s selling your parent’s home or your own, having someone help you with the details eases the emotional transition. Selling a home is one of the biggest financial and emotional decisions you’ll make — partnering with an expert real estate professional can give you the emotional separation you need to see your home more objectively and prepare it for sale. By acknowledging your feelings and having a trusted realtor partner at your side, you will be better equipped to make the right choices. And on the days you feel like you can’t leave your beloved family home behind, a seasoned realtor can help keep things moving.

Interested in selling? Contact Fiona for a consultation. 

Fiona Helps NYC Transplants Find Their Dream Home in Purchase, NY

Steve and Christine followed a journey common to young families during the pandemic. Dwelling on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with their two young children when the Covid crisis hit, they sought refuge with Christine’s parents in Nassau County on Long Island. They intended to stay for just a few weeks while they searched for a home in Westchester County.

It was a hectic time, and they knew the market was crazy, but Christine was seven months pregnant. About to become a family of five, they needed an exit strategy.

It was at an open house in Rye where they first met Fiona. Recalls Steven, “Fiona asked all the right questions. She helped us set our real estate goals in terms of size, location, and layout. She took time to weed out what we didn’t want and to see what was available. Then, she toured several homes with us. Some weren’t right but it helped us explore what was out there and narrow our choices.”

Fiona’s extensive broker network was instrumental in facilitating their search during a time when brokers were reluctant to hold open houses. Through her many contacts, Fiona planned home tours around their day trips from Long Island during a window of time that accommodated the schedule of Steve and Christine’s young children.

What they really appreciated about working with Fiona was how she put them at ease. Says Steven, “So many brokers were pushy; they were telling us ‘you need to put in a bid today.’ Fiona reassured us that we had time. She helped us navigate a crazy fast market while helping us to see what we liked and narrow our choices. Fiona kept us calm.”

Adds Christine, “I wanted a pool, five bedrooms, and access to a playroom on the first floor. But I did not want a house that needed work. So, when we found a home that needed work, I resisted. It was a hard ‘no.’ But Fiona helped us to see its potential. She helped us to see past what it looked like and what it could be for our family.”

Fiona worked with the couple to look at the footprint of the house relative to their growing family. She secured a home inspection, gathered comparable home pricing and helped them put in an offer on the house. With Christine’s pregnancy nearing the end, Fiona worked quickly behind the scenes to expedite the negotiation. “Fiona guided us through the entire process,” says Christine. “She navigated us through until we had an accepted bid.

The birth of their baby came before they closed on the home, and they signed the contract while in the hospital. Eighteen months after they went to stay with Christine’s parents in Nassau County, they moved into their new home in the town of Purchase.

When asked if they would recommend working with Fiona, Steven said absolutely and “without reservation.”

“Fiona’s experience and vision really helped us make an informed decision. We recommend her because she wasn’t overbearing. She facilitates and guides without being aggressive. We felt like we were drowning in a fast-moving market, but she helped us tread water. She made a difficult process a smooth transition.”

From List to Accepted Offer in 24 Hours: Our Experience With Fiona

Eadie and Albert Brunner were Rye residents for almost 30 years when they decided to put their home on the market. They planned to relocate south to Charleston, South Carolina, prompted by Albert retiring from his position managing Manursing Island Club on Rye’s Sound Shore.

When it came to hiring a real estate agent the couple didn’t consider hiring anyone other than Fiona. They knew her through their children being friends and from her stellar reputation in the Rye real estate community.

“When I saw a photo of her fixing a window and watering flowers at her clients’ homes on social media, I was so impressed with her attention to detail. I thought it was brilliant,” explained Eadie.

They met Fiona in June 2021 at their home to discuss listing their property. At the time, their three children had all moved home due to the pandemic and the combined contents of their separate apartments were now taking up space in their home.

“Fiona had a vision. She saw through the clutter and could tell it was a great space despite the chaos. She recommended organizers that we could hire and days later she came to help with the cleanup. It was so helpful to have her take point because it was an emotional process for us.”

What really stood out to them was the solid team of trusted professionals in Fiona’s network and how she worked with them on the couple’s behalf. The preparation took time, but Fiona kept the couple calm and positive during the process. “She helped us to see the end result. Fiona arranged for us to have help with cleaning, minor updates and repairs, and staging it to make it buyer-ready.”

The ongoing pandemic and dynamic housing market concerned Eadie and Albert, who were afraid they missed the peak season. Yet Fiona’s supportive approach assured them that there were plenty of buyers still out there. They were thrilled to see the home receive an accepted offer in 24 hours, and go into contract in 72 hours.

“All the stress was alleviated in that sale. Fiona is very dedicated to her job and her team is fantastic. They communicated so well and that made it seamless for us. I would 100% recommend Fiona to others.”



‘We Made the Right Choice in Fiona and in Rye’

Peter and his wife Annie began planning to relocate across the border from Toronto to New York in spring 2021. They were considering Westchester County but had no idea where to look. Purchasing a home remotely during a pandemic was a challenge, but they could tell from the start that Fiona, who was recommended to the couple by a colleague, was a great fit. They knew immediately she was uniquely familiar with the local market and it was clear from the start that their expectations would align with hers.

“We interviewed other brokers but picked Fiona,” explains Peter. “What’s important is that we needed someone who we felt was looking out for our best interests. We felt she’d be honest with us and push back when needed. We liked her approach — she came armed with hard data, which helped us set realistic parameters that would allow us to reach our goals.”

What struck Peter as unique was Fiona’s choice to have their first meeting at her own home, which they found very personal. She had lined up six homes to show them, and spent the better part of the day touring the couple through Rye — it’s schools, downtown areas, clubs and neighborhoods. Says Peter, “I’d never had a real estate agent do that for me before. That made us feel we made the right choice with Fiona, and right choice in Rye.”

Because Annie and Peter were spending their time in Maine, Fiona had to be innovative in showing them properties and making the most of their time in a market where houses were selling within days of hitting the market. Using video chat, Fiona walked them virtually through every inch of potential homes,  highlighting features she felt would meet their needs or be out of step with what they were looking for.

“The entire process couldn’t have been more efficient,” notes Peter. “Fiona’s connections saved us time. She knew what was coming on the market and was able to interpret the situation: what the inventory was, what the pricing might be, how fast it would go.”

Peter and Annie closed on their new home in Rye in July, 2021 and love their new community. “Fiona went above and beyond, exceeding our expectations. We absolutely achieved our real estate goals,” says Peter.

From their First Rye Home to a Relocation: Fiona Led the Way

Chris and Irene happily lived in Rye for the past ten years. After starting their family, they purchased their four-bedroom Colonial on Elmwood Avenue with Fiona in 2012. At the time, understanding Rye’s neighborhoods and all they had to offer to a growing family was vitally important.

“We were new parents,” recalls Chris. “That knowledge was very important. We wanted to know about the amenities of each area before settling in. Fiona helped us to a great area and a wonderful home.”

They kept in touch with her over the years. When they considered renovations or additions, they consulted with Fiona, who helped them determine the projects that would deliver the best return for their investment. When they decided to relocate to South Carolina, they turned to Fiona to help them manage the sale of their home. Not only did they have a good relationship and a loyalty to her, they felt she would best prepare them for what lay ahead.

Preparation, knowledge, and relationships

Fiona recommended and handled a pre-listing inspection. She made recommendations of what needed to be fixed, cleaned, or renovated prior to listing their home. To help them get the work done, Fiona put her network of contacts to work. Says Chris, “It was much easier with Fiona’s help. It was the difference between consulting the yellow pages and working with Fiona’s trusted contacts, with whom she has worked for a very long time. They were honest and thorough.”

Having a hands-on realtor stage their house was critical in making it buyer-ready, explains Chris. “We moved our furniture out, and Fiona moved furniture in that had the vibe buyers were looking for. She personally styled our shelves. At one point she helped to change out our window screens! She jumped in to help wherever it was needed.”

Buyers were out in droves during the Covid pandemic and the market was fast-paced. A lot had changed in the real estate market since Chris and Irene had bought their home. But with Fiona by their side, they felt prepared, relaxed, and confident about finding the right buyer.

When the time came to navigate the offer process, Chris and Irene were again glad to be working with Fiona. She helped them manage the entire process and negotiate a deal they were happy with.

“Fiona has been in 90% of the homes in Rye, and her knowledge about the local market was a huge advantage. She’s a great negotiator. I highly recommend working with Fiona.”

Fiona Helps Couple Sell After a Lifetime in Rye

After living in their Rye home for over 42 years, Peter and Nancy were ready to retire. They had their sights set on South Carolina. It was late winter, 2021, when they started looking for homes in the south, and interviewing Rye realtors to help them sell their Oakland Beach Avenue home.

“It was our first experience going through this. We wanted to get a great price for our home, of course, but we had a lot of concerns and were nervous about the process,” said Nancy. The couple thought they would need to make some minor repairs and cosmetic enhancements to their home before selling, so they were also looking for recommendations on the best way to prepare it for listing.

They researched real estate agents, narrowed their list to a few brokers of interest, and scheduled interviews. They met Fiona and immediately felt at ease.

“Fiona was the best fit for us,” explained Peter. ”She had a great track record in terms of sale prices. She was professional. We liked what she had to say about how she would prep our home. She had a plan. Plus, we liked her! She listens. She’s personable. We felt we could trust her. It was like having a family member give you good advice.”

Fiona’s recommendations included getting a pre-listing inspection and planning a series of repairs and renovations to the 100-year-old home. With a lifetime of belongings to sort through, the couple had their work cut out for them. But it was less overwhelming with Fiona by their side, according to Nancy.

“Fiona had a plan. She was so smart and helpful. She considered our budget and told us what to do and what we could skip. She had our best interests in mind.”

Timing was critical. The couple closed on a home in South Carolina last April and planned to put their Rye home on the market in May. Their adult son was living in their Rye home because of the Covid pandemic. Work was just getting underway to get the home ready for the market.

“Fiona was a huge help,” said Peter. “We were moving out of state and really had to rely on her. She told us she could handle everything for us if we moved.”

And she did. Fiona researched available apartments in Westchester to help their son find a place to live. She contacted painters and electricians and tile installers. She arranged for work crews and met them at the Oakland Beach home to let them in and ensure work was completed. She contacted an engineer to help with plans for the driveway.

“Fiona’s network came through for us — her contacts, her resources, her relationships. They were reasonable. She knew our goals and they understood them,” said Peter. “She and her team did everything they could to make our home appealing to buyers. We never would have gotten the price we wanted if not for Fiona.”

Let Fiona help you sell or find your dream home. Contact Fiona at 914-414-5147 or email her directly.