Recently, a friend asked me “What’s been most stressful for you in the last few years?” and I immediately said “Buying our house. Without a doubt.” It was, hands down, the most stressful event I’d gone through. Let me share with you the reasons why and the ways in which you can reduce the stress of your own home buying experience. Is Buying A Home Stressful? In a word YES. Many of the steps in the house buying process are out of your hands and you are forced to rely on a third party to act on your behalf. This lack of control, combined with a sense of uncertainty until the property is yours, are two major triggers for stress. However, there are a number of ways to reduce the strains and tensions of buying a home. You just have to be well prepared, aware of potential pitfalls and know how to handle any roadblocks that appear, without losing your mind. Let us tell you how.
Why Buying A Home Can Be Stressful
There are many reasons why buying a home is stressful. As we’ve already said, having to rely on other people, such as the realtors, the lawyers, loan offices etc, can cause a great deal of strain. If you are waiting for one of them to do their job, so the sale can progress the tension can feel unbearable. That’s not the only stressor though. Others include:
You’re about to embark on possibly the largest purchase of your life. You’ll not only want to choose a home you want to live in but one that will be value for money and a “safe” investment. It is easy to see why this can lead to pressure and fear about making a mistake and buying the wrong home.
It’s not just the cost of your house you need to budget for. Professional fees, inspections, re-decorating, and removal costs all build up pretty quickly and can leave you and your budget reeling.
Differences Of Opinion
What if you adore house number one, but your partner hates it? How about if you would like a fixer-upper but the rest of the family wants something move-in ready? Are the “must-haves” the same for both of you and do you agree on what compromises you will make? These kinds of disagreements can lead to stress and tension in your personal relationships, which can have a knock-on effect on all areas of your life.
Unfortunately, the rest of the world cannot be put on pause while you buy your house. Having to juggle your regular work, home, and family responsibilities PLUS all the the things you have to do can be enough to put anyone over the edge.
If you are lucky you will be buying from a motivated seller who is eager to work with you to make the sale as quick and smooth as possible. If you’re unlucky you’ll be purchasing your house from someone who is constantly moving the goalposts, inflexible, or just downright difficult.
Trusting The Professionals
Most buyers work with a realtor, a lawyer, and a mortgage advisor or loan officer. Add in home inspectors and other professionals and suddenly you are putting your life in the hands of a team of people you didn’t even know six weeks ago. This can leave you feeling very vulnerable. Chasing The Professionals The stress from professionals can be two-fold if you find that the ones on your team are less than efficient. Having to constantly call, text, or email your realtor or mortgage advisor in order to keep things moving is extremely demanding.
Tied In Chains
If you are part of a chain of purchases which all depend on each other, the tension can go up a notch. Fear of losing your buyer and subsequently losing the house you are trying to buy can grip you right up until you all sign on the dotted line.
Finally, there is the waiting. You make an offer and you wait. Then you wait for the inspection and then have to twiddle your thumbs while the mortgage company considers your loan. There are few people who can deal with these time lags without getting at least a little twitchy.
How To Minimize House Buying Stress
There are ways to reduce the opportunities to become stressed when you are buying a house and the first one is to be well informed before you begin. Do some research about the house buying process. Find out how long each of the stages takes and what you will need to do each step of the way. Once you have learned what to expect each step of the way, you can also:
- Know What You Want: Sit down and write a list of what features are important for you and the other members of the family. Split this list into “must haves” and “can compromise” and only go to see the houses that have your “must haves” at a minimum. This will stop you viewing unsuitable houses and reduce the potential for conflict over a houses features.
- Get Pre-Approval: Find out before you go house hunting, what size loan a lender is willing to offer you. This is not a guarantee that this amount will be offered on a particular house but it will enable you to focus your search on properties you can buy.
- Keep Records: Make sure you have all of your relevant documents, all together, in one place. This includes things like proof of income and other records your mortgage provider may need, as well as realtor contracts etc.
- Stay On Top Of Communication: Keep notes on who says what and when, as well as what your responsibilities are. This will prevent things from falling through the cracks.
What To Do If You Feel The Stress Building
It is virtually impossible to avoid stress when buying a house. If you feel the stress building, take the time to try one of these suggestions to bring your anxiety levels down to a point where they are not dominating your life.
- Talk to a friend or family member who is not involved in the process. Sometimes just getting everything off of your chest can do wonders.
- Delegate responsibilities wherever you can at home, at work, and in the wider community. By taking some of the other things off of your plate you’ll give yourself some much-needed breathing room.
- Find something else to occupy your mind, especially in the long waiting periods.
- Have faith that you have made the right decision and that the professionals you have chosen will be doing their best for you.
What Sort Of Things Go Wrong?
If you have never bought a house, or even if you have, you might not realize all of the potential things that can go wrong. For example:
- The seller could decide to take their house off of the market.
- A home inspection can discover major defects
- Your real estate broker, real estate agent, or Realtor, may be less helpful than you might like.
- The mortgage provider could refuse to lend on the house you have chosen.
- The title search can discover issues that hold up or prevent the sale.
- You might receive a lower appraisal than you were expecting.
- Your buyer may drop out
These are just a few of the roadblocks that can suddenly appear on your road to homeownership.
How Do You Find A Good Realtor?
The best way to find a realtor with whom you will have the best possible house buying experience is to ask family and friends for recommendations. They will be able to tell you first-hand about their experiences which should help rule in or rule out certain professionals. If you are able to put together a short list contact each of those realtors and set up an appointment to discuss your needs. This will give you the opportunity not only to get the best deal you can but to meet the potential realtors and decide who you get on with the best.
What Do You Do If Your Sale Falls Through?
It can be devastating to discover you cannot have the house you set your heart on. Any actions you can take will depend on the reason the deal collapsed. For example, if the seller has gone with a higher offer and you are maxed out financially, then there is not a lot you can do. On the other hand, if there is a problem with the inspection and your lender withdraws, there may be ways to deal with the situation and resurrect the purchase. If you find yourself losing out on the home you wanted to buy, be careful not to choose another house to quickly. Buying on the rebound can result in you moving into a new home you are unhappy with from the start, just because you were in a panic to buy anything.
About The Author
Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.