Overcoming the Mental Hurdles to Home Buying
When my husband, Dan, and I decided to buy our first house, we had no idea where to start. This was before I became a Realtor. I have a background in business and manage our finances (thank you, Sally, for permission to buy the f*ing latte!) so I took the lead in getting our search started - but I had no idea where to start.
Was I supposed to find a Realtor first? How would I find a good one? Weren't Realtors shady (like car salesmen)? Weren't they going to try to sell me a really expensive house I couldn't afford? What could I afford? What about the lender? What would my financial adviser say? How did this fit in with my responsible investing goals? The list of questions was endless.
All of those questions and unknowns made the home buying process feel like I didn’t know what to do. I felt powerless and like I wasn’t in control. Those feelings paralyzed me for a while. This article is for those of you who feel like I did.
1) Take a deep breath.
You are in control, so your home buying journey should look how you envision it.
If you aren’t sure what that journey looks like or what the destination is, you might want to find an agent who can walk you through the process, answer your questions, and help the process go as smoothly as possible.
2) Open houses are for interviews.
Open houses are billed as fun ways to look at houses and figure out what you like. That’s true, and you should go to them for that reason, but you should also use them as a way to interview Realtors.
When I first started going to open houses, I didn’t want to engage with the real estate agents who were hosting them. I thought they were just going to try to sell me the house and then call me non-stop.
What I wish I had known is that often, the real estate agents hosting open houses are not the agents responsible for selling the property (at least where I am in DC). Either way, the agent who is hosting the open house is there to meet you and hopefully spark a connection so you will become a client.
Now, before you decide you’re never going to another open house again, let’s flip this idea and think of open houses as a way for you to interview agents in a low-pressure environment. Ask them about the property, the neighborhood, and the local real estate market. Do they seem knowledgeable? Did you hit it off? If they don’t know the answer to your question, do they find it and get back to you?
You will probably meet a few agents who just aren’t the right fit for you, and that’s all right. When they follow up with you later, just tell them you’re not interested and ask that they take you off their list.
3) Use your network.
I know this sounds so obvious. But purchasing a home is extremely personal, and it can feel a little scary to talk about it with friends, family, and/or co-workers. I ended up finding my Realtor through a friend from graduate school.
There’s nothing better than a personal recommendation from someone you trust. Just to be safe, ask a few people and talk to a few different options. A friend or family member who shares your values is likely to recommend a Realtor who also aligns with those values. You can also use your network and your new connections with Realtors to find a lender.
4) You don’t need to have all the answers.
Once you decide on an agent, they will help you figure out all of the pieces to your home buying puzzle, so you end up in a home that you love and that meets your needs.
Need help with your finances or don’t have a lender? Your Realtor can give you some names. Never want to pack another moving box? Your Realtor can recommend reliable moving companies. Want to renovate before you move in? Your Realtor likely has relationships with professional, licensed contractors who are reliable. Need an attorney to help you settle on your home? Yup, your Realtor can refer you to them, too.
You don’t need to have all the answers before you start your home search. Start by going to open houses and talking to real estate agents. Once you find a Realtor, they’ll use their expertise to guide you through the home buying process. If there are additional services you need, they will use their networks to get you what you need.
[Related: Thirty Days of Me First]
Kerri Murphy is a Realtor with RLAH Real Estate and part of the Best Address Group specializing in luxury, historic, and architecturally significant properties in Washington and the surrounding suburbs.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Real Estate Agent
Real Living | At Home
Kerri is passionate about the Washington, D.C. region and believes it is an incredible place to live. She understands that real estate is the biggest investment anyone can make and works with her clients to find the right home for them–answering all their questions and making the process as smooth as possible. Kerri is a REALTOR with RLAH Real Estate and part of the Best Address Group specializing in luxury, historic and, architecturally significant properties... Continue Reading
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