Selling or buying real estate is stressful. I know because I live through it with clients – up close and personal – all the time. It’s a stress smorgasbord.

There’s an appetizer of pain, followed by a second course of pain. And then they serve an entree. There may even be a palate cleanser, a cheese course and a dessert in the mix. It’s a regular gourmet feast.

There’s the macro-level stress of “Why am I buying/selling and what the hell am I doing with my life and what is going on in this crazy world?”

There’s the minutiae of everything from “When should I give my landlord notice?” to “How are we going to get that workbench out of the basement without spending a lot of money when both our backs are out and the Recology bulky pickup has to be ordered a week ahead of time?”

Sometimes I get so mired in detail that I can’t recall

  • which title officer is in charge of which escrow or
  • who paid which vendor how much for what item or
  • when offers are due on which property for what buyers or
  • is it my Sunnyside listing or the 2 units in the Richmond or the Glen Park condo I’m showing today at 3 pm?

And don’t even get me started on the exquisite confusion of having simultaneous escrows for properties on the 2100 blocks of both 21st Avenue and 21st Street. That’s always interesting and “interesting” is an understatement.

The thing is that change is always challenging. And change is inevitable so we may as well get used to it.

There are four life arenas where the going gets especially tough: job transitions, relationship changes, health challenges and moving. It’s possible to manage one at a time with relative grace, but if you’re navigating more than one you’re going to be overwhelmed. With real estate, there’s almost always at least two of those things happening at once.

If you’re the Realtor trying to help clients in the middle of overwhelm – well – good luck to you! I hope you have some mad counseling skills, as well as a solid meditation practice (or access to some fabulous drugs).

Especially right now. Right now – November 2022 – is HARD for all of us. For Sellers, Buyers and Agents in San Francisco.

I’m reminded to put it all in perspective and count my blessings. And I’m reminded of the words of Thich Nhat Hanh: “Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world, to make peace possible for the world, to make happiness possible for the world.”

Photo Credit: Takeshi Shimizu

Author and RealEstateTherapy curator Cynthia Cummins has been devoted to homeowners and homebuyers for three decades and counting. Visit for more information on San Francisco real estate.