10 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Purchasing a Home

Buying a home is considered one of the most stressful events that can happen in your lifetime. In several polls, it ranked just below “death of a family member” and “getting married”.

But why?! Why is it that buying a home is such an anxiety inducing event for most people? And how can we reduce that stress and stay on point so we can function?

Well let’s start with why buying a home, especially your first home, is akin to watching a horror movie.

Buying a Home Is A Series of Stressful Events

Buying a home is no one single event. It's a long series of events spread out over weeks, often months! Each event presents an opportunity to get an unexpected setback or to simply wait for an answer to some unknown.

These include:

  • Checking your credit report and score

  • Figuring out how much you can afford

  • Finding a real estate agent

  • Getting pre-approved by a lender

  • Repeatedly looking for homes

  • Making an offer and waiting to hear back

  • The inspection and waiting for results

  • Getting insured and setting up utilities

  • Signing the mountain of closing day paperwork

  • Actually moving in

Each of these events could yield an outcome that is less than desirable. And if just one goes off the rails, it could prime stress triggers to all the others. Making the whole ordeal one nail biting moment after another. 

Here are some of the most common stress triggers new home buyers experience during the process.

  • Asking price is too high

  • Down payment is too high

  • Seller is argumentative or unreasonable

  • Lender rejects your loan application

  • Home inspection reveals major defects in the home

  • Agent has poor communication and negotiation skills

10 Tips to Reduce Stress

Sometimes stress is unavoidable. Many psychology experts even say it's unreasonable to expect to avoid it in these kinds of situations. This is when good research and being prepared is so important to not wanting to hide under your bed pulling your hair out.

So here are ten things to remember when buying a new home and you feel your stress levels start to spike.

1. Manage Your Expectations

Managing expectations doesn’t mean lowering your standards or disregarding the things that are most important to you. If you must have a backyard for gardening, kids, pets or hosting garden parties because it makes you happier, then stand by that. It’s about managing your expectations around communication, timelines and exactly what that yard may look like. 

Not everyone you interact with while buying a home will share your communication style. So be sure to remind yourself that things take time, things change rapidly and not to judge yourself or others too harshly. 

It will make a world of difference in maintaining sanity.

2. Know What You Want: Must Haves and Deal Breakers

Like we mentioned earlier about the backyard, everyone has things they want in a new home that are “Must Haves” and things that would instantly end the pursuit; “Deal Breakers”. 

It is worth the time to sit down and write these things down. Must Have and Deal Breakers should be short, simple and not too specific. For instance, you feel you must have a yard because you have a dog and not having a park within walking distance is a deal breaker. 

There should be no bend or break in these. So if you list them out and find yourself willing to deviate from them then you know they are not really must haves and deal breakers. Make sure you are confident and clear about these to reduce stress. No second thoughts when it comes to these important items. 

3. Know Your Financial Situation Before Emotionally Investing

Getting your personal finances in order before you start looking for a home can side step so much of the heartache that comes with buying your first home. 

Getting these affairs in order will help you avoid the let down of knowing the 20 or so houses you’ve already looked at dreamily are completely out of your price range and qualifications.

How much can you afford and what type of lending can you expect? Start doing your research and write down some very specific numbers that act as a compass for what you’ll be looking at. Even if your credit is less than stellar and your savings below desired you can still find an accurate appraisal of what you can afford. It will set the tone for your search.

4. Avoid A Bidding War

Bidding on a home is not something you can always avoid. If you love a property/home, there’s a great chance several other parties do. So you may have to compete to earn the right to buy it. 

Knowing your budget can keep things black and white. What’s your walk away price? What monthly payment will break the bank and make your life stressful for years to come? 

Set a hard line that, if breached, will end the pursuit of any giving property you’re lusting after. No second thoughts. Sticking to your budgetary guns is incredibly empowering and you’ll never regret it.

5. Remind Yourself to Be Flexible

This one is the other side of must haves and deal breakers and should be added to your list as “flexible on”.  What are the things you can take or leave? Is 2 bathrooms a nice to have or a must have? 

Maybe a backyard is a must have but you are completely flexible about how large and whether or not it's fenced in. Have these internal conversations with yourself ahead of time so you don’t feel on the spot.

This is why we encourage you to keep your deal breakers and must haves as non-specific as possible. Too specific a vision of your new home may stress you out because you may not be able to find it. And if you do actually find it, it may be out of your price range or the target of a bidding war.

So as much as you put into knowing your must haves and deal breakers, take the time to say aloud or on paper what you know you’ll be flexible on.

6. Anticipate A Long Process: Think In Months

Setting a specific date of when you’ll be living in a new home before you’ve started the process is a great way to turn into a stressed out mess. Sometimes factors outside of our control make this impossible to avoid, like, having to sell the home you currently live in or an apartment lease’s end date. 

We suggest thinking about action plans and budgeting for a longer timeline. The old saying is, “hope for the best and plan for the worst.”

Maybe you need to be prepared to store furniture for a month or two. Maybe you may have to stay with friends and relatives in the interim. Maybe you work out a month to month rent with your landlord. 

Start having these conversations before you start looking. You don’t want to be caught off guard and having to make arrangements on the fly because you thought everything would be “bam, bam”.

7. It's Okay to Say No!

One of the biggest stressors is feeling like you're on rails without a break.  There are many times throughout the search, purchasing and closing when you can pump the breaks and walk away. 

These opportunities can get a little more expensive as you progress through the process but knowing where and when you can say, “no, thank you”  is critical to feeling safe and confident. 

Maybe external factors will pressure you to keep moving forward. Check in with your deal breakers, must haves, flexibles and budget. If something doesn’t feel right, hit the pause button and sit with it. You may not know immediately why you are feeling cautious, but the answer may occur within a day after just considering it.

The bottom line is that you should never feel rushed or coerced to move forward. Listen to your intuition and only move lightning fast when you are at your peak confidence. 

8. Recruit Great Listeners for Moral Support

Everyone needs support sometimes. Having someone in your life that can listen when you are stressed or give you learned advice can provide a lot of stress relief. 

These sources of support may not be the same person and they don’t always have to be experts in the home buying process. You have a trusted friend who is a great listener and knows just the right things to say to you. You may have another source of support who may be an expert at the process but not the greatest listener.

Know what you can expect from your support sources and try to call on them for the specific things they are great at. 

If you are just stressed and your anxiety is spiking, call the great listener so you can unload. (Be sure to ask their permission before you vomit your feelings all over them. Engaging with someone who can’t can lead to some devastating let downs that only compound the stress.)

If you are feeling a little lost or under informed about how mortgages and other technicalities work, call the expert, have all your questions prepared and set your brain to listening mode. 

Having the resources to tap into will keep your stress in check.

9. Take Breaks

Searching for and buying a home can feel like a never ending gauntlet of tasks and decisions. It’s completely okay take some days off. 

Designate one day a week to not think about it. Maybe your Fridays or Sundays are the days to shut off your phone and let your real estate agent know you’ll be offline. Let them manage the communication so you can have a period of recharge. 

These moments of rest and relaxation, doing the things that you love or doing nothing at all are vital to maintaining your sanity. So take them with some regularity.

Being well rested can help you make better decisions and stay calmer when things get tense.

10. Let It Go

Finally, and probably most importantly, be prepared to have a short memory. You most probably won’t buy your first, second or third choice. 

We have the tendency as normal humans to lament the opportunities we missed or the perfect homes we were outbid on. Do your best to let go of those instances because there’s a great chance it will repeatedly happen. If you dwell on they may make you feel like you have rotten luck or that fate hates you. 

That can be a recipe for stress to mount quickly on you. There are things we can manifest into existence and we can feel great when it does, but when it doesn’t, let it go and move forward. Say it to yourself aloud if you have to. 

Everyone Feels Stress When Buying Their First Home

You can’t avoid stress in your life in general, nor should expect to. Buying your first home is full of events you’ve never experienced so it's completely normal to feel anxiety.

They key to not letting that anxiety and stress overwhelm you into making bad decisions for yourself and perhaps your family. So be prepared and do your research, set up some support channels and have back up plans for living arrangements and storage.

Doing these things will arm you with the tools to make any stress that comes manageable. 


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