Are you emotionally ready to buy a home?
A brief guide to the emotional toll that can happen during your perfect home hunt.
You’ve probably noticed in your adult life that there are very few decisions that have to be made that will significantly impact your financial situation. Just to name a few, new (to you) cars, student loans, big weddings, yearly costs of pets or children… and probably the biggest and most time consuming– homes. One thing that just comes with the territory (get it?) of buying a home is the emotion. From the time you get your preapproval letter from the bank, to when you FINALLY get the keys, most people experience a whole slough of human emotions, but believe it or not, you can have an enjoyable experience, end up in a home that you actually want, and can afford! … as long as nothing gets in the way.
For me, the homebuying process went about like this: excited– ready to hit the ground running. Disappointed and discouraged — chewed and spit back out by the current housing market. Trying (and failing) to think positively. Stressed and frustrated– ready to be done with the whole experience. And finally, living in a house that doesn’t meet my needs and requires a fair amount of work to make it worthwhile to sell it. It doesn’t have to be like that if you can leave your emotions at the door. By this, I don’t mean to be a completely unfeeling robot when viewing homes, but just to be prepared for the fact that your love of a home is not enough to make the seller accept your offer.
I learned the hard way that it is easy to fall in love with a home, put in your best offer, begin thinking of all the ways you could transform the space and make it perfect for you… only to be outbid by 10k. This is happening more now than ever before. If this sounds like an absolute nightmare to you, a custom homebuilder is a great way to alleviate a lot of the back and forth. You’d already know where the home is going to be, and the designers are going to work to make it the house you’d never find on the market. The excitement comes from seeing how things come together and knowing that it’s just for you.
One of the most important things you can do to keep your experience a positive one, is your research. Get a preapproval before you plunge into your house hunt, and on that same note don’t be afraid to price things around. Different lenders can offer your different things, and the first one you go to may not be the best one for you. Once you have a preapproval, everything else becomes MUCH easier. You can then begin to research neighborhoods that you’d like to live in, and have a better idea for how much home you can afford. You can change the search engines to only include listings up to your preapproval amount.
It might be a smart idea to involve a realtor, if nothing else, they can be someone to lean on. The realtor often has connections that the average person may not have, including an inside scoop on listings and neighborhoods. If you’re having a home built, ask around about builders who are also licensed real estate agents. Then they can sell your current home while building your new home and cutting out one of the middle men when it comes time to close.
The next thing that you can do to decrease your hardships is, if at all possible, to give yourself a funds cushion. There are many expenses that come with selling your existing home, moving out of or into an apartment, or buying a home. All of these just tend to spring up at the worst of times. In my case, the bank had a record of every single penny I had, (and every single penny that I owed) and I still experienced a lot of non-sticker sticker shock.
It’s stressful when you are told you suddenly have to come up with an extra $4,000. Ask your lender and your builder about any potential expenses that could come up. This makes it to where you can avoid being blindsided by something so sudden. You can also ask about grants that are intended specifically for aiding in closing costs, inspection fees, earnest deposits, etc. There might be none, but that’s the worst news they can tell you.
Throughout all of this, the most important thing is to never lose sight of the bigger picture. You are the one living in your home. If this means asking uncomfortable questions, or getting on the nerves of some people along the way, you should do it, because once you close you don’t have to be friends, but you should be happy in your own home. Don’t settle for something out of frustration, and always try to give yourself more time than you think you need.
Things never happen the way you expect them to, but the tighter the deadline, the more stress. When building, product arrivals are longer than expected. When buying an existing house, you might put in 30 offers before one of them gets accepted. Everything else keeps turning when it feels like your home buying/building experience has come to a standstill. If after all this, you’re still thinking, “Bring it on.” you’re probably emotionally ready to buy a house. So good luck, and happy hunting!