“Insider Secrets for Buying a Home” Series
Buying a home can be confusing. That’s why the tips and strategies you’ll find in my 8-week series will set you on the right path. It’s my own unique approach and a “behind the scenes” glimpse of what you should look out for and consider when starting your own search for a home.
No, this question has nothing to do with chilling with Netflix. It’s all about finding a home you like.
As a homebuyer, do you find yourself wanting to see everything in your price range, or “needing to look at just one more place” before making the “right” decision?
You may truly believe that having a wide selection of homes to choose from is the only way to find one you love.
Guess what? It’s a proven fact that having too many choices only increases your chance of making the wrong choice!
Choice Overload – the Netflix effect
Research has shown that having too many choices can overwhelm and stress people. Whether it’s selecting a laptop, choosing a mutual fund package, finding a mate, or even just trying to get yogurt at the grocery store (who needs this many choices?!), people become so overwhelmed and reach a point where they feel paralyzed with indecision.
Anyone who has Netflix knows it. You want to watch a movie – and unless you already have one in mind – you end up scrolling through the endless amount of choices, without ever really settling on one.
And even when you make the “right” choice, you can experience an increased feeling of regret or dissatisfaction once a decision is made. Many can’t get past the thought that one of the other choices would have been better.
Has that ever been you?
Most likely you face an insane number of choices for all sorts of products, whether you’re at the grocery store, shopping online, or the car lot. We’re talking about both the big and small purchases in your life!
When there are so many options to choose from, it’s easy to end up in a situation where doing nothing becomes the “default choice.” We’ve all walked out of a store empty handed when this happens. Or decide to delay making a purchase till “another time.”
The same phenomenon can happen to home buying.
Why More Is Actually Less
When it comes to house hunting, you do want to have a healthy inventory of listings to view. However, thinking “seeing more is better” can actually sidetrack your home search.
More choice can cause confusion, second guessing, and just being overwhelmed.
There are several strategies to make your search successful and satisfying from beginning to end. This means you’ll need to learn how to narrow down your choices.
Sometimes the market itself will limit your choices, but you’ll still need to make a decision at some point. Here’s how to do it:
- Spend time researching BEFORE you’re a serious buyer. Get educated about your local market in terms of price, location and features. Visit open houses, go online, and talk to trusted and reliable friends about how they made their home-buying decision. This way your expectations are realistic and you’ll be more confident when you do become a serious buyer with an agent. Do your best to keep this time productive. Perhaps even use a deadline to make sure you won’t still be “looking” two years down the road.
- Figure out your needs, your wants, and even your deal-breakers. We say this over and over again but it’s SO important to make a well thought-out list and stick to it. Of course, you’ll want to leave a little room for your criteria to evolve as you walk through homes, but your basics or deal-breakers shouldn’t change. Focus your time and energy on what matters to you. I recommend starting with these basics, then figure out what lifestyle you want to live and make your list from there.
- Stick with your budget and price range. You’ll increase your doubt, confusion, and dissatisfaction if you start to see homes outside your price range. Higher priced homes could make you house-poor and cause stress. Lower priced homes may not have the basics that you’re looking for, or be in poor condition, both of which will cause stress and anxiety. You’re just adding more choices, and ones not likely a good fit for you.
- Compare apples to apples. It’s not a good idea to compare homes that are in two very different locations – it will only lead to “analysis paralysis”! For example, a home in the suburbs is most likely going to be bigger, and with a larger yard, than a similarly priced home in the city.
To avoid this from happening, you first need to narrow your location by deciding what lifestyle you want. However, if you decide to be open to other locations, compare similar homes within the specific location.
Remember having “enough choices” doesn’t mean a large number. Too many choices can be daunting, so you want to aim for “enough” choices. This way you’ll be confident in your decision and satisfied that you’re not shortchanging yourself with too few choices. Work with your agent so that you view “enough” homes that meet your list’s criteria.
Keep eliminating homes and move on. When you view a home, it’s either a “yes” or “no” and then on to the next one. Eliminate as you go along so you can keep your selection to two to three homes (just like HGTV’s “House Hunters”). Don’t “keep it in the running” just in case! You’ll end up with too many “maybes” to whittle down. Another strategy is to ask yourself what home you like better—the one you are in right now or the ones you just saw. Then pick your favorite of the day.
Don’t worry you’re missing out. Your agent is there to help pare down the number of homes to view and keep you focused. Your agent can explain why certain homes weren’t on the list to show you – i.e. they don’t match your list, are out of your price range, or have something that you consider a deal breaker.
Avoid becoming an MLS junkie. It’s hard in today’s market to not be glued to your phone to see what’s been newly listed. Zillow makes sure of that. Just remember to keep it in check and limit the time you spend trying to catch every new listing. You can tell your agent if you’ve seen something that’s a match but don’t become obsessed or anxious about every new listing and second-guess too much.
Learn to embrace “good enough.” Yes – I want you to find a home you love. However, no home is going to have everything on your list and still meet your budget. Accept that your decision on a home may come with some sacrifice of something on your list. Make sure that what you’re sacrificing is a “nice-to-have”, not one of your “must-haves”. That means you have to be crystal clear on those 2 lists.
Making a choice does mean you’ll be passing up opportunities to look at future listings. But would you rather buy a new house or be stuck “looking forever”??
Let us know if you have any questions about choosing a home and if you’re afraid you’ll experience choice overload..
Next week is another hot topic for many buyers. Are you afraid that your student loan is preventing you from becoming a homeowner? Then you’ll love How to Buy a Home with Student Loan Debt, which continues Insider Secrets to Buying a Home series.
I'm Mike and I love helping buyers discover what's really important in their forever home, then working to find that in Chicago's
Northwest Suburbs. I also have a soft spot in my heart for teachers and love giving back to them whenever I can. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true.
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