Buying a house will almost certainly make you feel a rollercoaster of emotions: excitement at seeing a new listing within your budget pop up, then disappointment when it goes under contract four hours later. There’s the giddiness and glee after touring a house you adore, followed by total dejection when the seller’s agent says he already has 25 offers (many of them tens of thousands of dollars above asking). Not to mention frustration, anger, boredom, anxiety, and maybe even a little fear that you’ll never, ever, ever, actually buy a house.
If you’re trying to buy a house right now, I feel for you. I really do. There’s no silver bullet or magic fix for buying a house in such a hot real estate market, but there are a few subtle mindset shifts and steps you can take to make the process easier.
Acknowledge — and Feel — Your Feelings
Prepare yourself ahead of time for the house hunt to be difficult and stressful. Then, when things really do start to get hard, actually acknowledge and feel those feelings, says Camille Tenerife, a Los Angeles-based marriage and family therapist and the owner of Diversified Therapy.
“Try and just validate your emotions,” she says. “The reality is: house-hunting is hard. You’re about to make a purchase that impacts your life significantly. Remind yourself that it is a process and it’s hard because it’s hard.”
In real estate, you win some, you lose some. Acknowledge that there’s a lot of emotional grey area when buying a house and, if you can, focus on the positive aspects of your search, Tenerife suggests.
“Nothing is that black and white,” she says. “House-hunting is not all good, nor is it all bad. Try and list out the things that are frustrating about it, and try listing the positives about it as well. Our brains find it easier to stick to the things that are not going well. Through this exercise, you can force your brain to think of the whole picture — the positives and the negatives.”
It may sound simple, but it’s more than OK to reward yourself after a long day of touring a half-dozen homes.
“Purchasing a home can be a really long and tedious process,” Tenerife says. “After completing some things on your house hunting to-do list, can you treat yourself to your favorite restaurant? Are you able to give yourself time to relax for a bit? Maybe there’s a new spot you’ve been wanting to try. Rewarding ourselves for doing the work makes the process a bit more of a pleasurable experience.”
Accept That It Will All Work Out
When you’re in the thick of things, getting outbid right and left, it can be difficult to see things in the long term. Picture yourself in the not-so-distant future, enjoying your new home — you likely won’t think back to these challenging days once you’re in your new house (which you will find, eventually!).
”I have an expression: ‘The right house winks at you,’” says Betsy Ronel, a real estate agent in New York. “And it’s true. I’m a big believer in energy and divine timing. When it’s time for buyers to find their home, they will, without a doubt. House-hunting is like dating. Sometimes — but rarely — you meet the love of your life on your very first date, but most of the time it can take many first dates before you zero in on your exact wants and needs and deal-breakers. Once you’ve learned what you need to learn, the house will follow.”
On the same note, prepare yourself to be in the thick of your house hunt for… a while. Don’t fool yourself into thinking (or making plans around) your searching taking just a few weekends.
“I always advise my clients that this process is a marathon and not a sprint,” says Cameron Stephens, a real estate agent in Los Angeles.
No matter your budget for a home, it can be utterly frustrating to get outbid time and again during your house search. And while you may want to be conservative when it comes to offering an amount over the asking price, Stephens recommends going big enough that you won’t have regrets.
“Offer the price such that, if you don’t get the house, when the home’s price becomes public record, you don’t say ‘I would have paid that,’” he says. “As long as you’re being truthful and honest about that number, you can sleep soundly at night knowing it wasn’t the right one if you don’t get the house.”
Yes, you could anxiously refresh Zillow all day on your phone. Or, you could let your real estate agent take the pressure off for a few days — that’s what they’re there for, anyway.
“Take a break from looking at listings if you need to,” says Emily Jones, a Toronto-based real estate agent. “Sometimes after a hard loss or if a buyer is feeling drained, I encourage them to stop looking at all the listings for a couple days. If something fabulous comes up, I will text them directly so they won’t miss out.”
You’re about to make one of the largest financial decisions of your life, so of course you want to be 1,000 percent sure about a house before making an offer. But if you can, try to strike a balance between falling in love and not getting too emotionally attached, Jones says.
“I like to suggest cautious optimism,” she says. “It’s hard, but in the long run, it will help you to emotionally move on to the next house if your offer isn’t accepted.”
Work with the Right Agent
Not only can working with the right real estate agent help you make savvy financial moves, but it can also help you cope during an extended search. Find one who’s empathetic and willing to lend an ear when you feel frustrated or discouraged.
“A big part of what we do is provide emotional support to clients through challenging or stressful times,” says Peter Riolo, a real estate broker in New York City.