Action Feels Right at a Moment of Economic Uncertainty, but It May Not Be

When we sold our cabin through an unsolicited offer many years ago at the top of the market, it was a Pyrrhic victory.

My wife grew up with a cabin and used ours to create a lifetime of memories for our then-young children. The price we received for the sale of the cabin didn’t come close to the experiences we were creating. It was my mistake (and we paid for it by immediately replacing the cabin with a different one).

In this real estate market, Pyrrhic victories on both the buy and the sell abound. Here is how to avoid them.

Even though you can get top dollar for the sale of your property, determine what you want to do next. You can’t sell at the top and buy at the bottom. Unless you have a massive home, you may downsize but end up paying around the same for your new place.

Moving to reduce upkeep or for health concerns makes it easier to tolerate the changes you will be making. Cashing out to move to a lower-cost area works if you know and like the area. Some of our clients have sold to move back “home” only to realize that home wasn’t the same now as it was when they left. Test things first before you jump in.

On the buy side, I was recently dealing with a client and a mortgage broker who could “make [this] complex deal happen.” It involved moving a lot of money around, selling a different property, paying capital gains and landing a mortgage at a considerably higher price than the current one to end up in a location where they have never lived.

This certainly may work out, but I am concerned that making it happen could prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. The client was getting caught up in the deal rather than thinking about why they should or shouldn’t be doing it.

This is a time of increasing uncertainty and discomfort. One of the ways to avoid these feelings is through action. But action that is not adequately considered ironically leads to more uncertainty and discomfort. Action works better when it is part of a plan integrated with your values.

My cabin situation worked out because I realized that you can’t have a victory if you are playing the wrong game.

Related: What Tickle Me Elmo Can Teach You About Economic Bubbles