Identifying and Managing Real Estate Grief

Contributing Writer

Steven Wissinger

Identifying and Managing Real Estate Grief

Grief is something that we must all experience at some time or other. Grief is a somewhat complicated and misunderstood emotion. We will all inevitably experience loss, whether it is a loss through death, divorce or some other loss such as financial or the loss of the American Dream, the stages of grieving are the same. We are going to focus our discussion on the loss of the American Dream – home ownership.

What exactly is this idea of the American Dream? It is the idea that in America, all things are possible to everyone, regardless of race, religion, age, gender, etc. All people can succeed and part of that success is the ownership of your own home, a home where you can start a family, a home where you can raise your children and build lasting memories. So, for families that are on the verge of foreclosure, the pending loss of home can be traumatic.

There are five stages of grief. If we get stuck in one stage or the other, the process of grieving is not complete, and cannot be completed. Thus there will be no healing. A person MUST go through the five stages to be well again, to heal. Not everyone goes through the stages at the same time. It is different for each person. You cannot force a person through the stages, they have to go at their own pace, and they may go one step forward then take two steps backward, but this is all part of the process, and individual to each person. But, as stressed, ALL five stages must be completed for healing to occur. One additional point of interest I have personally experienced is that they stage of default on the mortgage the home owner is in usually has a direct correlation as to the stage of grief they are experiencing.

It is also important to understand that you are not there to assist that individual in their journey through the 5 stages of grief. Only a licensed counselor should help individuals deal with their grief. This white paper is designed only to help you identify what stage of grief your client is in so that you have an understanding of where they stand emotionally. Additionally, you need to not take personally any comments that your client may make towards you that you find offensive. Be the professional that will assist them through the process of avoiding foreclosure. Be the professional who will continue to be there for them when they come through to the other side of financial stability and are able to buy a home again.

The Five Stages of Grief

1. Denial

“This can’t be happening to me!” Looking at the past due notices from the mortgage company and not accepting the fact that the process of foreclosure has already started. No crying. Not accepting or even acknowledging the pending loss.

2. Anger

“Why me?” Feelings of wanting to fight back or get even with the Realtor who sold them the home in the first place or the loan officer for giving them such a bad loan, blaming them for their current financial situation.

3. Bargaining

Bargaining often takes place before the loss. The home owner attempts to work things out with the mortgage company to stop the foreclosure process. They may attempt to make deals with God to stop or change the loss, begging, wishing, and praying not to lose their home.

4. Depression

The home owner is experiencing overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, and self pity. They are actively mourning the upcoming loss of their home as well as their hopes, dreams and plans for the future. They feel a total lack of control.

5. Acceptance

There is a difference between resignation and acceptance. You have to accept the loss, not just try to bear it quietly. The home owner realizes that it isn’t the mortgage company’s fault for starting the foreclosure process. To feel pain after loss is normal. It proves that we are alive, that we are human. Acceptance is finding the good that can come out of the pain of loss. Acceptance is finding comfort and healing. The home owner’s goals turn toward personal growth. They begin to grow stronger, while not shutting off their feelings for the hope of one day being able to own a home again, of one day living the American Dream again.

Wissinger & Company Realty

1266 W. Paces Ferry Road – Suite 568

Atlanta, Georgia  30327

Direct:  678-478-8559

Fax:      678-530-1077


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