Fact Checked

What is Seller's Remorse?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Seller's remorse is an emotional response to a sale on the part of a seller which involves feeling regretful about the sale. This emotion tends to come into play when large items are involved, such as houses, businesses, or cars, but people can also experience seller's remorse over something as simple as a teapot. This emotion is extremely common, and people are well-advised to be prepared for the experience of seller's remorse before they put something up for sale.

A number of factors can be involved in seller's remorse. Some people didn't really want to sell the item in the first place, and they are surprised when the item sells, realizing that they have an emotional connection to the item which makes a sale difficult. Others may think that they could have gotten a better price for the item, or they may feel that the buyer took advantage of them in some way. This is common in transactions where buyer and seller negotiate to arrive at a price.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

In some cases, seller's remorse sets in before the deal is completed, in which case the seller may try to back out of the deal. This is known as "getting cold feet," and it is especially common with real estate transactions, because the transaction can take two months or more to complete from the signing of the contract to the end of escrow, leaving lots of room for remorse. While sellers can usually back out without facing legal penalties, they may be obliged to pay damages to the buyers, and to the Realtors® who listed the property and negotiated the sale.

If seller's remorse sets in after a sale, the seller may be tempted to buy the item back. In this case, the seller usually ends up paying more than the item sold for to retrieve the item from the original buyers, and the buyers may be peeved by the process. They can also flat out refuse to sell, leaving the original seller with no recourse.

This emotion is very normal, and people should be ready for it when they make a big sale. It helps to prepare ahead of time to confirm that one is really ready to sell an item, by listing the pros and cons of sale, thinking about a fair price, and talking with friends and family members. Once an item is on the market and negotiations have been entered into, people should try to avoid giving in to seller's remorse, as it can lead to significant problems for everyone involved. Especially in cases where a sales person like a car dealer or Realtor® is handling the item, sellers should remember that this third party makes no money unless the item sells, so it's rather rude to list an item which one has no intention of selling, or to list an item with a very high price which will deter buyers.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Seller's remorse usually happens when the price of the item you sold keeps going on up after you've done the deal. It's hard to time the tops and bottoms. After many a disappointment, as long as I've made my desired profit on the deal, I'm satisfied.


Could the emotion felt of seller's remorse be related to saudade, a Portuguese term that roughly means: deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. It's related to the feelings of longing, yearning.

Obviously this level of feeling would vary on degree, but maybe that negates the relationship between seller's remorse and saudade.


@Subway11 - I think that you bring up a good point, but I have to say that what if you have seller’s remorse because you feel that you sold your home too cheaply? I say this because when my sister bought her house she bought it from a couple that was divorcing and they were desperate to get rid of the house.

They sold their house to my sister for $45,000 below the appraised value and the seller’s tried to back out of the deal but because of the legal contract they couldn’t. I think that with transactions like this it is important to really take the time to assess the home correctly and not try to take the first offer that you get.

I imagine that it was a hard time for them because they were divorcing but maybe they should have taken some time to do their own appraisal and have a few realtors offer their opinion about the price of their home before it went on the market. This way they would not have had any regrets on the sale.


@Oasis11 - I know I have lots of stuff I can let go of too, and maybe one day I will. I think that it is easier to let go of seller’s remorse if you are selling items in order to donate the proceeds to charity.

Knowing that the money that you receive will go to a good cause can sometimes change your perspective and realize that it is okay to let go of the item.


@SurfNTurf - I wanted to say that seller’s remorse happens a lot on those organizing programs in which people have to sell most of their stuff in order to receive a home makeover.

People have a hard time selling their personal belongings but when the focus is shifted to enhancing the home and decluttering it then some of the guests let go of that seller’s remorse that they have.

I think that is the key to letting go of stuff. I know a lot of people keep clothing in their closet for years that no longer fits them because they hope to lose weight and fit into them again.

It is better to sell these items of clothing at a garage sale or online auction and get yourself something that you can use now. I heard somewhere that the rule of thumb is generally one year. If you have not worn the item of clothing in one year then it is time to let go of it.


What I do to reduce the chance of developing seller’s remorse is determine what I can get by giving up the item. This way I focus on the value that the item is bringing me and how it can improve my lifestyle.

For example, if I have some collectible statues that I am looking to sell, I try to do my homework to see what they are worth to see if it is enough to help me with buying something else or doing something with the money.

I never attempt to sell anything that has sentimental value. I usually sell things that are no longer useful or could bring in enough money to enhance the décor of my home.

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