The Long Way Home
Longing. Break that word down. It is the noun of long.
If something is long, it is of considerable distance and so longing is to sit with that as a ‘state’. To be in a state of being not with something at a considerable distance. It is a position of distance in space and time to something, but something that is desired and not possessed. It is the yearning – the wanting – that makes time move slowly.
Shakespeare knew this and had his Romeo declare, “Ah me! Sad hours seem long,”.
And the hours do seem long when you want something that you cannot have, or cannot have – yet.
Take any desire, once that attachment is formed – the longing begins. Whether it is a love, a decision to have a family, a career goal, or a new house. The journey from contract exchange to settlement is one of longing.
The purchase event, whether that is exchange or auction has taken place and the wait for settlement is torture. The moment in time that the contract is unconditionally formed is the crystallisation of a desire. Not just a desire for the future but a desire complicated by all of the anthropological relevance and meaning of home. The desire for safety. For family. For lifestyle. For identity. For community.
For those releasing their properties as vendors, the longing can be for all kinds of things on the other side. A longing for the release and whatever that means to the seller.
The longing for settlement can be peppered sometimes with a complex ‘longing for release’ through the loss of love, grief in all its terrible forms, even financial failure.
Longing is the far more intense, deeper emotional state than ‘wanting’ and it comes from a much deeper part in the belly. We can forgo things that we ‘want’ or ‘desire’ in lieu of a better option but longing is heard by those of us assisting people in their longing for a property as guttural. In the sale and purchase of real estate, conversations with longing are quite literally heard as words spoken from the back of the throat or from deep in the gut, not the tip of the tongue.
Emotionality in the sale or purchase is one of the reasons why real estate agents are so valuable to both the seller and the buyer. It is an almost clinical and expert skill to provide clear and independent market advice to both parties, and to not become dispassionate to the very human journeys and longing that is playing out in negotiations or within the auction theatre.
The properties themselves are making a journey too. As the baton of ownership passes from one owner to another, the house too must close a chapter and open a new one. If the house is presenting the longing of the seller rather than seeking the longing of the buyer, then the leverage in negotiation is lost. Agents tell the story of property and guide discussions to construct ‘longing’, and that is particularly important where the seller is ‘longing’ to leave.