When people sell their home, they need to open this door to move on to the next phase of their lives.  People need to close the door on where they are now, in order to open the door to where they need to go next.

-Shannon Aronson

SHORT HILLS, NJ – A door greets the reader in the opening pages of Shannon Aronson’s new book, “Don’t Give It Away,” and it is clear this is not the standard ‘how-to-sell-a-house’ list of do’s and don’ts. Aronson is opening the door to a greater understanding of the emotional mistakes that can derail the home selling process by dissecting the deep emotional connection between a seller’s home and pricing, surviving the selling cycle, pitfalls and how to avoid costly mistakes.

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Aronson is an award-winning agent with over 15 years in real estate. As the owner of the Shannon Aronson Group, she earned the highest distinction for the past five years with the NJAR Circle of Excellence Platinum Award. Her team applies a specialized approach to helping clients sell their homes and the results speak for themselves. The team are in the top 1% of producers in New Jersey for six years running. Using the “House Fit” Scorecard that Aronson developed, it asks thought-provoking questions and in the end, has the individual “score” themselves. This helps people see where they are according to their goals. The “House Fit” Scorecard is available online at http://kys.coach/s/sF50/ShannonHomeScoreCard. The Shannon Aronson Group also takes a one-of-a-kind approach to the selling process that starts with customized goal analysis and ends with an after closing guidance program so that all of a client’s real estate needs are met.  

TAPinto Millburn spoke with Aronson as she charts a new course as an author to learn more about how she came to write this book, what are the biggest lessons for sellers and all about the unique Millburn-Short Hills market.

What prompted you to write this book at this point in time?

I see that people really struggle emotionally around lots of issues related to selling their home.  In a majority of cases, people are selling their homes because they are facing a life transition that is stressful in and of itself.  The timing of the book grew out of a particular week where I met with several clients who were entangled in so many issues and they were having a really difficult time figuring out what next steps to take to move forward with their lives.  When that happens to people, they often retreat and do nothing, and stay in a situation that usually costs them money, or is just not the right fit for them.  The issues and the solutions tend to be similar, so I felt that writing a book would be helpful for a lot of people.  Money and the financial gain involved with having a home that is advantageous financially is so important.  No one wants to feel like they will need to “Give their house away.”  Feeling confident about home preparation, timing, where to go, and so many other things are what help people regain a sense of control over a very stressful and financially important transition.

Aronson started her career as a therapist after earning a Master’s degree in Social Work from NYU, but moved on to real estate in 2002. As you transitioned from therapist to investor/flipper, how did you decide to continue down that path to real estate agent?

When the youngest of my 3 children entered nursery school, I knew that making a career change into real estate was the right thing for me.  As a child, my father always owned a couple of investment properties and my brothers and I would often accompany my dad to his multi-family homes where he would moonlight as a handyman and tend to the maintenance needs around the homes he owned.  The concept around investment properties made sense to me at a very young age.  When it was time for me to go back to work after my young children started school, I never considered anything else.  Real estate investing is a terrific way to make money, be an entrepreneur, and be in control of your own time and money.  The ability to use the mortgages and banks as very cheap “silent partners” made my ability to invest in real estate a real home run. 

As a professional have you experienced the emotional rollercoaster of home selling that you describe in the book?

Oh my goodness, YES!  I have had sleepless nights, hours and hours of indecision about whether to renovate or sell, not knowing if I should ’sell before I buy, or buy before i sell,' and life changes that made selling my home VERY STRESSFUL.  When life is good, I kind of enjoy selling my home, moving and getting to start again. But, even in those cases, the stress level is huge!  The fear of making a pricing blunder can be extreme.  If you get that wrong, it will cost you a lot of money.  Not only can I remember the stresses of that process, I have a visceral reaction when I just think about those times.  

For myself, my husband and my children, our last move was a happy one. Still the process of being in multiple bids on both our sale and our purchase, dealing with inspection struggles, differing opinions within the family, fear about over-paying and under-selling all kept us with white knuckles until the process was done.   I sought a lot of advice from very smart realtor friends and colleagues and I knew that even though I was a realtor, I would not be able to make objective decisions.  Just like my clients I needed professional guidance to help me navigate the treacherous waters of a home sale and purchase.  Particularly for my last transaction, all is well that ends well.  I outbid 4 other potential home buyers on my current home, and I was paid a price for which I was VERY happy on my sale.  In this case, all’s well that ends well.  I LOVE my home!

What is a key to selling a home that most people don’t know?

One of my philosophies is that people should NOT wait until they are ready to list their home to call me.  In many cases the most important time to begin the conversation is MANY months before the time is right to list a home.  People often say to me, “I don’t want to waste your time and I’m really not ready yet.”  To that I say, “Please understand, the most important time to get consultation is BEFORE you are ready to list your home.” 

People need help preparing the home for the sale, determining the right time frame, determining where they will go when the house is sold.  I really want people to know they can reach out to me months and in some cases years before they are ready.  That is when I can add the most value to their planning.

What is the most unique/special “it” quality that you see in the Millburn market?

In a word—it is SOLID.  Because of our great NYC commute, our great schools and our taxes which are lowering than in several neighboring towns.  Historically when real estate markets nationally have falling prices, our prices fall less.  When real estate prices nationally are trending upwards, the usually outpace the curve.  Millburn is easy on the eyes, full of interesting people who care about the community, and if filled with great stores, restaurants, and access to transport and NYC.  It truly has it all!

Aronson’s book describes and dissects the WENS Myths that deal with how to price your home and how these emotional factors can impact selling process. WENS stands for: Want, Ego Pricing, Need and Spent.

With Millburn a highly desirable market, What seller impediment do you see most often from your WENS list?

It is very hard for sellers to be objective about their own homes.  After all, sellers fell in love with their home at one point, or they never would have purchased it.  That love often clouds a seller’s ability to be objective.  I find that sellers often focus a bit too heavily on the homes “best feature,” and minimize the impact of some of the quirky or less desirable aspects of the home.   If you love your kitchen or your master bedroom, of course you may be inclined to want to price your home accordingly.  

You discuss realtors needing to be hands-on and part of the community; What is your favorite way to live this principal in Millburn?

The Millburn/Short Hills community is magical because of our great school system.  The school system takes care of our most precious resource, our children.  It also protects another important resource, our property home values.  I feel responsible to do everything humanly possible to help my clients and my community stay strong.  I am involved in many ways in the community, but where I have really rolled up my sleeves and logged thousands of hours, is with the Education Foundation of Millburn/Short Hills.  I am completely convinced that the Ed Foundation is the very best vehicle for community members to ensure that our schools remain among the very best in the country.  Presently, I am the chair of the Board of Trustees for the organization.  Although I am also a financial contributor, I truly value the hours spent working alongside other volunteers, hosting events, fund-raising, stuffing envelopes, and trying to get other community members involved and aware of our mission.  My work with the Ed Foundation is a labor of love.

You are involved in many community service organizations and projects; How do you select the right fit for your altruistic endeavors?

Locally, for me, the right fit for philanthropic endeavors are one that I feel helps my clients and their children by building up our very special community. 

Helping the community doesn't’t stop in Millburn for you; What prompted you to found Solstice 620? What is their mission?

We founded Solstice 620 upon our marriage in 2015.  The mission is to help connect professionals with opportunities to use their professional skills to help others in need.  We have arranged and traveled with medical and dental personnel to some areas of extreme poverty in Central America.  Ideally, we enjoy finding ways to surround ourselves with others who are eager to work to elevate the human condition and assist people by creating sustainable improvements to the quality of their lives.  We both feel that you don’t have to look very far to find ways to make a difference in the lives of others and the good news is, it is always a fun and rewarding experience.  It is true that when you help others, you get more than you give.  

Do you have a favorite house you have sold in Millburn?

I sold an exceptionally stunning home this year that was the most expensive home ever sold in Short Hills.  It was a private sale, so there is very little information about the home available publicly.  Let me just tell you, this house is stunning in every way.  It is so perfect, you stop dead in your tracks when you see it.  A tremendously nice family bought the house, so I truly couldn't’t be happier about the whole thing.  

Are you planning a follow-up book for buyers?

Yes, I have begun working on a book that focuses on the buyer process.  While it seems like realtors have just one job, you may be surprised at how different it is to help a buyer than to help a seller.  In addition to selecting the right house to buy, I believe many buyers really need help picking a suburb and a town.  That is the first and most complicated step.  When you think about a buyer moving here from NYC, for example, they may not know the difference between Summit, Millburn, Maplewood or Montclair. I feel that having the right community fit is really important.  Our clients know that the first part of our work together is assessing their goals, their ideal timetable, and their financial comfort zone.  Then we need to help them feel well educated on the market.  Only then are they ready to begin making decisions about which home to buy.  These are the things that I will be focusing on in my next book.

In homes, doors connect people to each other, they connect the outside world with the inside world where we all enjoy a respite from work, we make memories, raise children, provide safety and comfort for our loved ones and our pets.

-Shannon Aronson