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5 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Home Buying

Matt Ward

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Jan 20 8 minutes read

5 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Home Buying

Let's face it, home buying can be one of the most harrowing experiences of your life.  Even those who have bought and sold homes in the past seldom are truly emotionally prepared for buying a home in a seller's market.  The process can seem unfair and full of details that are not known until it's too late.  Most stressful of  all, the majority of the process is beyond your control.  You can't force a seller to accept your offer, your request for repair or a low appraisal price.  You can't force your lender's underwriter to accept that the property has a material defect that wasn't evident at the time you went in contract. All you can do is cross your fingers and pray if that is your kinda thing, right?  Wrong.  The following article gives you five helpful tips to reducing the stress of home buying.

Step 1: Due Diligence

This applies to several parts of your transaction. Due Diligence means you have done your research to the best of your ability and you are confident in the action you are taking based on the information you have gathered.  This applies to choosing an agent every bit as much as it applies to learning as much as you can about the home you are wanting to buy.  Make sure your agent is experienced.  If they don't show that they have processed a fair amount of transactions then make sure they have a team member or broker at their disposal who can help them answer questions they don't know the answer to.  If your agent isn't getting your questions answered, move on to another agent.  

Due diligence also applies to researching the home itself.  Is the home in a flood zone?  What are the taxes on the home?  Does the property boundary make sense for your needs? These are things your agent could look up, but likely they will not unless you ask them these questions. Much of the information about the property is available online through public records and various informational web sites.  In Central Ohio you can find much of the property information on the Franklin County Auditor's site.  You can find floodplain information on the FEMA Floodplain map site.  Your agent SHOULD be looking into all of this for you and reporting back with any information they find relevant to the purchase of the property.  Some things, however, agents are not allowed to look up and tell you. For example, worried about sexual offenders? Then you are going to have to look that information up yourself on the Franklin County Sheriff's Sex Offender Registry web site. Want to know if the crime is high in the neighborhood? Sorry, that is another thing agents are not supposed to tell you (due to potentially violating fair housing rules).  Look it up yourself on a site like Lexus Nexus Community Crime Map

Step 2: Prepare yourself emotionally

You must recognize the emotional part of home buying in the beginning. Understand that when you find a home you want to buy you will have connected with the home on an emotional level and already begun placing your things in the home in your mind and dreaming about your future there.  Regardless if you want to or not, becoming emotionally attached to a home during the house hunting process is inevitable.  Just know that it is more likely than not that this home could end up being snatched away by another buyer or have some unseen defect that stops a lender from being willing to loan you money for it.  You are more likely to experience heartbreak during the home buying process than any other business transaction you will ever participate in during your lifetime.  Be ready, try to accept what happens and be ready to move on.  Many buyers get into the search completely emotionally unprepared and when they lose in a few bidding wars are completely ready to give up and go back to renting.  In a seller's market, it's a war and you are on the battlefield.  Unless you understand the emotional and financial risk that this process includes, you are going to be left bleeding on the front lines and other buyers are going to step over you and take your house. 

3.) Be more prepared than everyone else

Do you have  a plan?  Good, now let's tear it apart and see if it covers all the bases.  If you don't, strap in and listen up.  First and foremost make sure your financial ducks are all in a row. Have a pre-approval, not just a pre-qualification, ready to send with an offer. The difference in the two is simply how much of your personal financial data you have submitted to your lender to have reviewed by an underwriter.  Secondly, make sure you have the funds you need to buy. Things you have to pay for before you close include home inspection and sometimes even appraisal. The out of pocket for these two can be at or over $1,000 alone.  Be prepared for what the home inspector is going to tell you. If you have hired a good agent, they will be able to point out lots of things that would come up on an inspection during a showing. Finally, and most importantly. Create a flexible move plan. You should already be minimizing your stuff into boxes based on it's frequency of use. Don't wait until the last minute to do this. On the flip side don't pack TOO MUCH stuff. The stuff you use every day should be packed last. Put together your moving plan, recruit the folks you know who can help you move if you aren't hiring movers as well.

4) House Hunt before you house hunt

This is a game I ask homebuyers to play before you begin looking at homes in person.  Get on your favorite app and start picking homes that you would like to buy based on their online information. Heart/favorite them in the app and write down somewhere how much you would be willing to pay for the home.  Watch how quickly it goes off the market and then what it closes for. This game will give you a GREAT idea how competitive the market is and begin to emotionally prepare you for the actual house hunt. 

5.) Be Realistic

We all have a vision of our dream home. It is nearly impossible to find a home that meets ALL of your needs. Make a list of the things that are most important to you about a home and be willing to compromise where others are not.  You may have wanted a fenced yard, but building a fence is something you could possibly save to do yourself. You may have wanted two full bathrooms, but a home in the right location may only have 1 and a half bathrooms. Be willing to accept concessions in your wants/needs list in order to quickly put a home in contract that has room for improvement down the road but checks off a lot of other boxes.  Most importantly. Figure out what things are WANTS and what things are NEEDS. You may think you NEED a big kitchen but in reality you eat out 50% of your meals.

There you have it.  An emotional support animal/human is always good to have.  Be ready to vent about this process to someone so you can get it out.  If you are prepared and have an agent who is also prepared it indeed is possible to buy a home without pulling your hair out. Remember, control the controllable. Much of this process is out of your control, so don't stress over the things you have no control over. 

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