People’s homes are more than just pieces of real estate — they’re sanctuaries, especially now. That’s why agents need to ease up on sleazy and pushy marketing tactics during this difficult time and be more thoughtful instead.

The demand for housing is strong. For some, the combination of COVID-19 and civil unrest has led to a desire to move out of the city and into the burbs where the lots are larger, and houses are farther apart. They want more space for home offices, so they can live and work in the safety of their homes.

Some no longer feel safe in apartment buildings or condo buildings and want to move out into detached homes. Those who can afford to live anywhere will flee the close confines of the city during this pandemic. Maybe they will just spend the summer at their lake house and return to the city in the fall.

There are also people like me, who may have considered moving at some point, but decided to hang onto the home they have owned for decades. It offers shelter and security.

There are many homeowners in my area who have lived in the same house for more than 20 years and have no plans to move this year. There is a house across the street that has had the same owner for 41 years, and one of my next-door neighbors has been there for 31 years.

We recently started getting a lot of text messages about selling our house, here are a few of them:

Hi Teresa, apologies for the surprise msg😃 I’m Ryan and am interested in buying the house on (my address) for cash. Do I have the right person?”

“My name is Alex, I am looking for (my husband’s name) about the property (my address), wondering if you would be open-minded about selling it. Is this a good contact?”

Hi, I’m looking to buy 2 properties in the area before the month ends. Do you still own (my address)? I would like to discuss purchasing it.”

We have owned it for more than 30 years and have no intention of selling it now. In fact, we may never sell. We don’t have any other place to go to. Not to mention, the house seems like it’s barely broken in. Even if we did move, selling the house doesn’t make sense. It would be easier to rent it out.

Some people act like living in a house for a long time is wrong. We’re supposed to buy and sell every seven to 10 years. The mortgage industry promotes the idea that a mortgage is a good thing. We should always have a mortgage and should always be moving into more expensive digs.

Our house comes up in one prospecting tool with a high “sell score,” which could be why we’re getting far more invites to sell it this year than before.

Some of the people sending these messages are Realtors or people who work for an agent, team or real estate company. Sometimes, the phone number they use gives them away.

I would like to slap the sender who claims to be Alex. Selling our home isn’t a matter of being open-minded. I definitely don’t like his attitude. He will have to pry my house keys from my cold, dead hands.

As for the person who sends an unsolicited message to a complete stranger and apologizes for the surprise, I figure he probably isn’t very smart.

There wouldn’t be any need to apologize if he hadn’t sent the message. Starting a message with an apology for something that’s done on purpose by the person apologizing doesn’t make sense. I don’t think I trust Ryan. He might be a psychopathic liar.

To the message sender who would like to discuss purchasing my home to fill his monthly quota, all I can say is that I don’t want to discuss it, and I don’t care about your personal goals or aspirations. My husband and I have been blocking the phone numbers and have not responded to any of the messages.

We also get a monthly postcard from a company that’s offering to buy the house, pay cash and close when we want to — without us having to make any repairs or do any work.

It seems like they’re offering a service instead of just looking for a “deal,” but I lost all respect for them when they started using the pandemic for marketing their services. The bold red letters on the front of the envelope promised to pay us cash for our house to help us through the pandemic.

It’s as if they want to scare us into selling the house, or maybe they just want to remind us that our lives are in grave danger. Our lives are in grave danger, but selling our house won’t change that fact.

Our home is more than a piece of real estate to us, especially right now. As deaths from COVID-19 continue to rise and the recession deepens, it becomes less likely that we will sell. Like many of our neighbors, we will age in place, out of concern for our safety.

Our house isn’t someone’s deal or quota. The thought of leaving it or losing it seems incredibly frightening. We’ve lost a lot in the past few months, but we still have our house.

Some of the marketing makes us all look a little sleazy. I can understand why some people don’t trust real estate professionals. Just stop it with the text messages, the phone calls and the mailings — and stay off our lawn!

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

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