Reality bites of parting ways with real estate

Of course, I had become a victim of circumstances. The whole fiscal year of selling what I loved so much was largely down to my inability to travel (thanks to Covid), labor shortages, and most importantly, falling prices for harvests. But it was also mine… the very first property I had bought, so the emotions were there. It was like uprooting memories and experiences rooted in physical space.

I guess because buying or selling a house or property, at its core, is an exchange of money for a commodity, regardless of emotions.

It’s often more than money, whether the transaction takes place for a good reason or for a heartbreaking reason. I’ve known friends who sobbed during lockdowns because, as they said between sobs, it wasn’t just four walls that offered shelter, “it was the nest of memories.”

Dr. Scott Huettel, chair of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, links memory to space. Research proves how a physical space can be linked to a memory and therefore imbued with meaningful value beyond anything monetary.

Cracks in the ground

Writer and language teacher from Trivandrum, Mini S Menon, vividly recalls the emotional turmoil of seeing her return home – the house she says was the “only one I was attached to” as a that young child.

“My childhood was fragmented. An only child in a broken family meant constant moving of houses – each lasting as long as the peace within lasted. I grew up in three different places for the first 21 years of my life,” says Mini. “But the place I considered home was my mother’s tharavad (family house), a typical house of landowning families in Kerala with provisions for storing agricultural produce.”

Mini remembers the joys of exploring the windowless attic where all the bric-a-brac was stored – brass and bronze vessels, old china, sepia photographs, frayed ledgers. “Before, it was a treasure,” she recalls.

“I loved this house: every nook and cranny, every shadow and every beam of light that came through the roof,” says Mini. “But again, my memories alternate between love and pain. When I moved, I felt like a chapter of my life was over. The house became a liability and over the years the property was divided and the new owners demolished the house and built a new one. To this day, it seems surreal.

In her heart, she says, the house is still alive. Whenever she feels like coming back, all she has to do is close her eyes and she feels transported back to the “old house with the cracked floors, the paneled attic door, and the big white lizard peeking out of the beams at night. ..”

Gather the fragments

For Mita Srinivasan, founder and director of Market Buzz International based in the United Arab Emirates, the memories of her home in Darjeeling, India, are the most cherished. She says it’s never easy to say goodbye to something you’ve loved so much – but the dictates of time win out in the end.

“It’s heartbreaking to let go of parts of your past and even more so when there are stories attached to it,” she says. “But sometimes you just have to do it.”

His father inherited a house in Darjeeling with his brothers and after he and his siblings died, “we [as the next generation] decided that we would sell the property because neither of us were able to help manage the property or its upkeep. We also wanted to make sure that a few of our elderly aunts could get some of the proceeds from the sale to help them live. It was a logical decision to make,” she says.

Mita says that although the decision to sell was unanimous and practical, she felt a bit guilty that she had to sell it because of the treasure trove of memories attached to it and because the next generation would lose the chance to see a important part of their life. heritage.

“It wasn’t our main home, but a family vacation home and the memories we made there were always happy. But no matter who owns the place today, we will always have those memories. Our family was very close.

Meanwhile, Ritwika Chaudhuri, founder of The Palette Art Training and Consultancy, based in the United Arab Emirates, explains how certain sales become a need which, apart from the emotional connection, can become the real reason for its elimination. Referring to their homestead in Kolkata, she says: “There were emotions, yes, but a more pressing need was to curb encroachment on property left unguarded.

Selling it was difficult, given that it had been in the family for years, but a collective decision was made taking into account the advanced age of many family members. “We kept losing older family members [only mom remains now], and maintenance became more and more difficult. Added to that was the issue of encroachment – so technically we had various reasons to get rid of it.

Ritwika says selling a much-loved, lived-in property was depressing and upsetting, as it meant shutting the doors on the memories of all the family parties and gatherings, garden picnics… “When we signed on the dotted line, I kind of felt the door closed. Never open it again.

She says it took a long time for her mother and older cousin brothers to come to terms with the fact that a move was imminent – but it had to be done. “We didn’t feel guilty because it was the best solution to a problem that couldn’t be ignored.”

Practical vs emotional

Philippine-based British journalist and broadcaster Brian Salter has lived all over the world; however, his memories of selling a house in Britain – originally built for the keeper of the British Museum in 1922 (designed by Lutyens). It was a long, narrow house with a huge garden.

“It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer, but there were fabulous views and it was just a joy to watch,” he recalls. “It was 40 miles south of London and I eventually had to sell it when I got a job in the north of England. It was a sad but necessary decision. And a house that I bought later in Yorkshire was also a wonderful home and eventually that had to go too – so no looking back and no regrets,” he says.

Over the years Brian has bought several houses, some to live in and some to rent out, although he admits he had nothing to do with the sale of his parents’ house in Britain. When he moved to the Philippines, he ended up buying two houses there. Reasons included mortgages, raise, downsizing and divorce. “During the expansion, it was something to look forward to, because each house was better than the previous one. As for the sale of the last house, when I got divorced, it was in the whole procedure. I felt sad to have to say goodbye to a very nice house, but there was no choice.

A sense of security

Assistant Professor of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Dubai, Gregory Fantham explains why humans relate to their home so much that it hurts when they have to say goodbye to it.

“Selling your home can be a hugely emotional experience for most people because it’s where you’ve lived and made memories,” he explains. “Houses also have a deeply emotional connection because there is a lot of involvement and effort in decorating the place – whether it’s choosing the paint or the curtains and considering the whole look in its entirety; then seeing it come to fruition is a satisfying process. It is more than just a property.

Fantham remembers his personal experiences. “The house that we own, that we bought and that we paid for is in France. But our European citizenship disappeared with Brexit. We own it, but it feels less like a home knowing there are restrictions. There is something unconditional in a house; it’s related to what positive psychologists call “unconditional positive regard.”

According to him, a house is often the largest and most important financial investment of a lifetime, and it has a major impact on our lives. The various stages of selling a home, such as deciding the price, engaging with brokers or potential buyers, negotiating, can be stressful and confusing. Another aspect would be the reason for the sale, such as monetary reasons, which may be difficult to accept, or getting closer to a loved one or the workplace.

“The group of associations with homes has a deep emotional impact on us. For example, memories of celebrating your successes, welcoming family and friends, growing your family, etc., evoke happy emotions.We associate them closely with the place where they were experienced.

He explains how a house provides a sense of belonging and security. “Only in your own home can you truly be private and secure with complete freedom and autonomy to control your surroundings.”

memory fountains

Home is where the heart is, the saying goes. But having to sell a home, for whatever reason, can feel like years of memories being washed away and, worse, if the move involves a life change, every process feels like salt in the wound.

Dr. Huettel’s research shows that the memories and associations that are tied to all those facets of life that make homes so closely tied to us. It could make it the place you grew up in or brought your kids home from the hospital, feel invaluable…and it’s hard to let go, even if it’s ultimately just a physical thing with a price attached.

As Gregory Fantham puts it, it should be remembered that the identification of “home” with property is quite specific to societies that value individual investment and, indeed, individualism as a value. In the United States, for example, the idea of ​​a property democracy is deeply embedded in the political culture. In contrast, more collectivist or less money-oriented societies do not exhibit this identification of house with property. In fact, the distinction is something we all appreciate sometimes.

“As a family we have moved on more than half a dozen occasions and even after our children moved overseas there was never a doubt that home was wherever we were. be, whether we possess it or not.”

It explains how external factors such as environment, neighborhoods and relationships with neighbors can also be reasons for a deep sense of connection to our homes – and, therefore, the sense of loss of connection to a place. resulting can be all the more overwhelming.

Physical places endure and serve as fountains of memory, so homes and neighborhoods help us keep alive some of the strongest sources of what gave meaning, well-being and happiness to our lives.

I know I will miss the sounds of wild, gurgling streams and the stress of managing a dwindling workforce. But then I know what I’m going to do with the proceeds from the sale. To travel.

Because there’s nothing like travel to heal broken hearts and create new memories.

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