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Masterclass Introduction :: The Art, Science and Psychology of Successful Home Buying & Selling

This is the preface post in a new Master Class series we're calling " The Art, Science and Psychology of Successful Home Buying & Selling". Taken together, this series will be a guide to help you navigate the complex and emotionally charged process of buying, selling or renting real estate. Feel comfortable leaving comments, asking questions and engaging with other readers when it strikes you.  Simply leave a comment in the section below.

As a military family, our dad's work required him to travel, and many times to foreign places far from what we'd ever think to call "home".  And until recently, the longest our family lived in one geographic place was four years.  During the 18 years I shared a roof with Ben and Adam - we lived in 4 countries (United States, Portugal, Germany and England), 5 states (South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Wyoming and Georgia).  I attended 4 high schools in 3 different countries and moved a total of 19 times before turning 24 years old.   Most of my 19 moves, now that I look back on them, were wonderfully happy experiences.  A few were definite losers.  But each one represented an opportunity to lay new foundations, connect with new people and experience new things.

I've moved to save money, to seek or accept new employment, to find better schools, to move to a different location, or to simply "start over".   I've changed houses, shared rooms, rented, bought, and sold homes, refinanced them, leveraged them, and invested in them.

Housing is also now our "family business". As real estate consultants, Ben, Adam and I have helped consult, negotiate, organize and oversee the purchase, sale and rental of over 1500 houses, apartments and condominiums.  As investors, we've rescued, renovated, restored, and remodeled several properties.  We've made a living transforming houses into homes for many of our closest friends, family and clients.

And more recently, our passion to deepen our skill as consultants has us broadening our inquiry into the emotional and psychoclogical ties we have to housing.  Not surprisingly, our inquiry supports the idea that when your values are clear your decisions are easy.   Increasingly during the past decade, financial research has more frequently crossed the line into the behavioral sciences.  In turn, social and behavioral sciences grapple with questions about personal financial literacy and financial management. At the heart of this emerging body of research is the home.

"More recently, our passion to deepen our skill as consultants has us broadening our inquiry into the emotional and psychoclogical ties we have to housing. Not surprisingly, our inquiry supports the idea that when our values are clear our decisions are easy."

Experience reveals few places where we learn more about ourselves and each other as when we consider our values and what's important to us in the context of the financial realities, constraints, opportunities, and investment potential of our homes.   I've seen little other motivating us to learn how to handle money better than the prospect of owning or investing in our homes.  Yet, due to the hardship and complexity of the times in which we live, we've fallen behind the “personal financial knowledge curve” we need to master.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

I’ve learned from consulting, teaching, and the people I’ve helped to house—from college students to older retirees seeking assisted living arrangements—that our decisions about homes can be financially and personally enhancing or exactly the opposite, depending upon the mindset, willingness to learn, and emotional baggage we bring to the transaction.

Housing emotions can derail us financially. They can be so powerful that during recent presentations with distressed home owners, I’ve seen grown men and women cry over home-connected memories and feelings of deep loss emerge when faced with tough decisions in this new economy.  One man who was about 50 years old, a strong candidate to short sale his home to avoid foreclosure, suddenly began weeping uncontrollably and had to leave the room. He later told me he had not allowed himself to grieve over the loss of a child that was born in the very house he was about to lose to foreclosure.  Our conversations had loosened memories he suppressed “far too long,” he said.

A new way.

The experience of home can be so intimate that I’ve witnessed people in moments of complete despair as they're confronted with the reality of losing their home to foreclosure. And as I sit here starting this new Masterclass series my hope is to simplify what can be a complicated, intimidating, and emotionally draining experience. By introducing you to your own “housing psychology,” better negotiating and decision skills will be more accessible to you as a homebuyer, seller, renter, and housing investor. The Art, Science and Psychology of Successful Home Buying & Selling is not just a how-to guide, but an introduction to a whole new strategy that can transform the way you approach housing decisions— and maybe other financial decisions as well.

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