Selling a Home Described as Being a Stressful Experience by More than Three Quarters of Home Sellers

More Than a Third Admit They Cried During This Process as a Result of Being Overwhelmed

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Emily Chen Research Analyst, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, June 25, 2019 — A recent online survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Zillow reveals that more than three quarters of Americans who have sold a home in the past three years say the experience of selling was stressful for them (77%) – behind only going through a relationship breakup (78%). Selling a home is rated as being more stressful than buying a new home (72%), planning a wedding (60%), getting fired (58%), becoming a parent (58%), teaching a teenager to drive (53%) and potty training a child (47%).

  • Those most likely to describe the home selling process as stressful include adults under the age of 35 (82% vs. 73% of those age 55+), those with no children living at home (79% vs. 68% of those with children), and those who say the home selling process took longer than they expected (84% vs. 72% of those who felt the process took about as long as expected).

Home sellers report that many factors related to the house selling process can contribute to this stress. Roughly two thirds, for instance, say that the uncertainty of selling for the desired price (70%) or within the desired timeframe (69%), packing up their belongings (67%), worrying about buyer offers falling through (65%) and making improvements to prepare the home for sale (65%) all added to the stress felt during this process.

  • Though one in four say that the home-selling process took about as long as they expected it would (24%), a third say instead that the process either took longer (34%) or less time (34%) than they expected.

Another six in ten say that the lack of control over the selling process (63%), getting rid/selling some belongings (60%), de-cluttering (59%), timing the sale with the purchase of a new home (58%), and not knowing if buyers are seriously interested (57%) also contributed to the stress felt during this time. Keeping the house clean for open houses and tours (55%), lack of clarity regarding aspects of the overall selling process (51%) and leaving the home for tours and open houses (50%) are least likely to be rated as stressful, though at least half of those surveyed report these activities elevated their anxiety levels during this time.

With all the stress associated with selling a home, it is no surprise that more than one in three admit that they have cried as a result of feeling stressed/overwhelmed during this process (36%). This includes 83% who cried up to five times and nearly one in five who cried more than this (18%)! Those most likely to cry include adults between the ages of 18-34 (67% vs. 39% of those age 35-54 and 18% of those 55+), those with children living at home (51% vs. 32% of those with no children), and those who describe the house selling process as stressful (41% vs. 16% who say selling a house is not stressful).

Three quarters of American home sellers find the stress of selling their house comparable to other stressful events (77% versus 23% who say that none of the things listed are similar to the home selling process in terms of stress levels). Sellers are most likely to associate the stress of selling a home to that felt when moving to a new home (28%), and nearly one in five found the stress of selling a home similar to starting a new job (19%), getting fired from a job (17%), and experiencing conflicts at work or at home (17%). More than one in ten say that selling a home is just as stressful as going through a break up (15%), planning a wedding (13%), teaching a teen how to drive (11%), losing all of their luggage when on vacation (10%) and getting a root canal (9%).

  • Those who cried during the home selling process are much more likely to find the stress of selling a home comparable to other stressful live events, including a greater proportion who say it is akin to getting fired (25% vs. 13% of those who did not cry), a relationship break up (20% vs. 12%), planning a wedding (17% vs. 10%), becoming a parent (14% vs. 5%), and potty training a child (8% vs. 3%).

About the Study

These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted May 3 - 17, 2019 on behalf of Zillow. For the survey, a sample of 1,068 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. In order to qualify for the survey, respondents had to have sold their home within the past three years. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ±3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2017 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, and region.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,068, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=4.9).

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

Emily Chen
Research Analyst, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 347 414-2845
e[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is a global independent market research company. Our team of 18,000 across 90 countries serves 5,000 clients and undertakes 70,000 different projects each year. Our polling practice is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

As a global research and insights organization, Ipsos aims to make our changing world easier and faster to navigate and to inspire our clients to make smarter decisions. We are committed to driving the industry with innovative, best-in-class research techniques that are meaningful in today’s connected society. We deliver research with security, speed, simplicity, and substance.  Our tagline “Game Changers” summarizes our ambition.

Our broad range of industry experts offer an intimate understanding of people, markets, brands and society. Whether testing communications content, bringing concepts to market, assessing customer experience, or gauging public opinion, Ipsos strives to identify and offer the right solutions to our client’s specific challenges.

Ipsos is committed to building an organization dedicated to a single endeavor: providing our clients with the best service, using qualitative or quantitative methods, at local, regional, and international levels. This is what drives us to ask and probe, to subject our hypotheses to rigorous analyses, and, finally, to deliver reliable data and the most effective recommendations in the shortest time possible.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,749.5 million in 2018.

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Emily Chen Research Analyst, US, Public Affairs