Other Agent: What do you mean it’s not about the house? We’re in real estate; it’s always about the house.

Me: No, it’s always about the people who own or want the house.


The truth of the matter is that houses don’t have feelings. People do. And people attach those feelings to houses, whether it be through memories, desires, or money (make no mistake—money is a very emotional aspect). What we have to remember is that nobody ever wakes up and says, “I think I’ll sell my house today.”

In fact, it would do all of us well to understand a very basic concept: When people buy and sell homes there is always a transitional event that prompted it. Why do people usually sell homes? Things like divorce, illness, death, and job loss might be at play. Or perhaps it’s more joyful circumstances, such as, marriage, moving up, or even retirement and down-sizing. Each of those is filled with its own kind of stressors. And buying a home isn’t all that different.

Again, getting married, expecting a baby, winning the lottery (okay sorry, I love that show on HGTV), relocating, or finally having enough saved up to buy a first home. These too, represent transitional times in the buyer’s lives. If you don’t think planning a wedding is a stress-filled event, think again. Besides the event that prompts the home-search, the desires behind it are pretty emotional too. I’ve been teaching my real estate students for years the benefits of home ownership, but I also teach them the emotional aspects; security, freedom, family, and pride of ownership are pretty darn important for most home buyers I’ve ever worked with.

Now this idea of, it’s never about the house, isn’t to imply that things like neighborhood, square footage, lot size and upgrades don’t count a whole heck of a lot, because they do. But at the end of the day, no matter what anyone anywhere ever tells you, people are emotionally driven creatures (that includes all humans, by the way). That is why a buyer who said he had to have a 2-car garage will insist on buying the condo with a car port if that tennis court and work-out room appealed to his inner desires more than his logical need of having that garage.

Likewise, with sellers, it can be emotionally impossible to separate the super small family room from the memories of all the Christmas mornings spent in there unwrapping gifts. And for both buyers and sellers, the financial consideration are critically and often equally important. This is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to finding the right agent.

Real estate professionals should be just that. Professional. They should be competent, skilled, have a license for more than 5-minutes (please), and know the market inside out. But wait…they should also seek to understand the situation. There is so much more that’s going on than just some sticks and stucco being traded for funds….an agent needs to embrace the role of the “shock-absorber” and supporter, along with her role of real estate rock star. Sometimes we need to help our clients better understand the overall situation, talk them off the ledge, or offer them a solution that currently seems out of reach.

Because…it’s never just about the house.