Home ownership is deeply embedded in the American Dream. It’s where so many of us start families or build memories. A home can be part of a family legacy or a stepping stone to bigger and better things. With all those expectations, is it any wonder that this particular dream can quickly turn into a waking nightmare of stress and anxiety?
Even the smoothest of purchases can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the challenge by the reins and turn it into a much more enjoyable and positive experience.
Whether you’re buying your first home or your fourth, a quick fixer upper or someplace to put down permanent roots, preparing yourself emotionally using these tips can help.
Leave Your Market Woes Behind
Many home buyers obsess endlessly about what the market is doing, whether it’s rising or falling, and whether it’s “the right time” to buy. The problem is that the “right” time may never come. More importantly, what’s right for the market may not be right for you.
Instead of worrying about whether you’re buying a home at the best time (which you’ll quickly learn doesn’t really exist!), consider whether it’s the right time for you. Decide what you can afford, what you’re willing to take on in terms of a financial and time investment, and start from there.
The housing market can change quickly and without warning, but do you really want that perfectly priced starter home if you’re looking for something more permanent, or the fixer upper if you know that DIY isn’t really your thing?
And what if the perfectly priced home really does appear magically in front of you – are you prepared to take your kids out of school or quit your job and look for another in a new city? Can you stop what you’re doing and pack – right now? Obviously these are hypothetical scenarios but you get the idea – if the timing isn’t right for you, then the timing isn’t right, no matter what the market may say.
Forget About Keeping Up With The Joneses
Buying a new home is never as good or as bad an experience as the story you heard from your best friend, neighbor of colleague. One scary story told beside the water cooler can have you fearing the worst. Or listening to your buddy talk about his incredible steal may have you feeling great.
The problem is that neither of those people are you. Your purchase may not be a nightmare but it may not be a quick deal, either. Sometimes, going in expecting the best is worse than, well, expecting the worst. If you’re hanging your hat on finding your dream house and then nabbing it for a real steal, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment, even if you do find a great house.
It helps to be realistic, and that means remembering that you’re about to embark on an unknown journey. Many have gone before you but none are you!
Instead of comparing your experience to someone else’s, or expecting an outcome that simply hasn’t happened yet, try approaching the experience with an open mind. This is your experience, and good, bad, or ordinary, they’ll be your stories to tell at the water cooler or over cocktails as you entertain friends in your brand new kitchen.
Skip The Dream House
Remember what we said about the danger of expecting the best? The problem is that so many people set their expectations at “perfection” that anything less feels like failure and disappointment.
Buying a new home can be exciting and fun, but if you’re only judging success by the stunning granite countertops and the ideal back yard and the precise square footage, you could be missing out on some less-than-perfect but perfectly wonderful homes.
Insisting on checking off a laundry list of “ideals” means you could bypass something great in pursuit of something that may not even exist. So put together your wish list, but be realistic about the true non-negotiables vs. the “nice-to-haves.” And remember, the more non-negotiables on your list, the more challenging your experience will probably be!
The key to a happy adventure is to understand and manage your expectations. That doesn’t mean settling for less – but it does mean being open to compromise on the things that may not be ideal, but may certainly come close.
Check Out The Neighborhood
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Of course you want to learn about the neighborhood where you’re considering living – that’s why you ask about the schools and learn about the property taxes and scope out the nearby shopping.
You’ve probably asked your real estate agent a thousand questions, so you feel like you know a lot about your potential new town. But did you also know that legally, there are some things a real estate agent cannot disclose?
The Fair Housing Act prohibits real estate agents from discussing demographics related to race, color, religion, sex and more. Your agent may not even discuss crime statistics but will refer you to the local police department instead.
That’s why it’s important to do your own research, not only to understand the aspects of a neighborhood that are important to you, but to get a feel for what life there might be like.
Meet some of the neighbors, visit during rush hour to see what the traffic is like, stop by during a school dismissal to see how it’s handled, take a stroll during the afternoon or evening to get a sense of whether neighbors interact, or kids play outside.
Statistics are helpful but understanding the more intangible aspects of neighborhood life can be even more important.
Hire An Attorney
If real estate isn’t your specialty (and maybe even if it is!) a pro can go a long way to helping you mitigate challenges that can be emotionally taxing. Dealing with title, negotiating contracts, recording court records and more are all things best left to your attorney during a time when you need support the most.
Whether you’re excited or worried, trying to manage the complexities and details of the transaction is an added burden than you don’t need to take on yourself. An attorney will help you avoid pitfalls you may not be aware of, help you get the best terms for your purchase, and mitigate those frustrated moments when you’re not sure what to expect by educating and guiding you.
If you’re ready to buy a new home, and want someone on your side through the process, let us know! We offer a free consultation so we can understand your needs and let you know how we can help.