Whether it’s your first home or your fifth, there’s no denying that buying a house is stressful. Between shopping around, viewing properties, applying for a mortgage, making offers, and working through the closing process, the homebuying process can be daunting.
Thankfully, there are some key steps buyers can take to mitigate homebuying stress and overcome fear when buying a house.
Why is buying a house so stressful?
Before you can counterbalance the stress of homebuying, you first need to understand why buying a house is stressful in the first place.
Buying a home is likely to be the single largest purchase of your lifetime, which can be overwhelming on its own. Especially if you’re buying your first house, being intimidated by the price tag and lengthy repayment schedule is understandable.
Beyond that, there are a few other key sources of homebuying stress.
Market conditions: The housing market can influence both the price of your new home and the entire homebuying process. In a hot market, homes can sell within hours of hitting the market. If you (understandably) need time to view the property and sleep on the decision, you might miss your window. Plus, prices are often inflated in a hot market, and buyers may feel obligated to offer more than the listing price or even get into a bidding war just to submit a “winning” offer.
The loan approval process: If you’re taking out a home mortgage, working with your lender through the loan approval process can be very intense. It may take weeks — or sometimes longer — to get approved for a loan, and it usually involves a lot of paperwork and digging into your finances. It may also involve some hard conversations about your financial wellness and credit.
Finding the right property: Then there’s the home itself. Finding the perfect place that meets your family’s needs, is in the right location, goes on the market at the right time, and is selling for the right price can feel impossible at times. You might get lucky off the bat, or you may search for months. In a competitive seller’s market, you might be up against multiple bidding wars and stiff competition from other buyers.
Dealing with the seller: A difficult seller can be another reason buying a house is hard. Sellers may be unwilling to negotiate on the home price or agree to certain contingencies. Making your offer appeal to the seller (if you’re in a competitive market) can be a lot of work, too.
A bad-fit real estate agent: Lastly, your real estate agent can add to your stress levels if he or she isn’t the right person for you or doesn’t deliver the service you expected. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open and to speak up when things get off track.
How to deal with the most stressful part of buying a house
The best ways of dealing with, or at least limiting, homebuying stress are through planning and preparation. Here are some steps that prospective homebuyers can take to mitigate stress and properly prepare themselves for any issues that might arise.
Start the mortgage shopping process early. Reach out to your lender early and get your financials in order before you find the home of your dreams. A preapproval letter is expected to signal you have the ability to get to the closing table. This not only makes your offer more enticing to sellers, but might even be required before you’re able to tour a property.
Hire the right real estate agent. A good agent is worth their weight in gold. They can take much of the pressure off you, the buyer, and may be able to save you money over the course of your negotiations. If you have severe anxiety about buying a house, a trusted buyer’s agent can be an invaluable advocate in your corner.
It’s important to find an agent who knows your area, stays up-to-date on potential properties, understands your needs and budget, and is willing to fight for the best possible terms. Without that, they can actually make buying a home more difficult.
Stay within your budget. One of the hardest, and sometimes most stressful, parts of buying a house is finding the right property at the right price. And just because you’re approved for a maximum loan amount, it doesn’t mean you can reasonably afford the monthly payment that goes with that price.
Determine your budget ahead of time. In addition to other monthly bills and obligations, consider your down payment, existing savings, and what you can comfortably afford to pay each month between a mortgage payment, mortgage insurance fees, homeowners insurance, property taxes, utilities, homeowners association (HOA) dues (if applicable), and maintenance. Then, stick with your budget, no matter how tempting a home may be. You don’t want to risk becoming house poor.
Act fast on making an offer. Once you find the right home — and have had ample time to consider the property — act as quickly as possible to get an offer in. If certain aspects of the agreement are deal breakers, be sure to add contingencies to your offer.
Things to research when buying a house
There are a few important things to research before buying a house, which can not only relieve some stress but also ensure that you are making the right choice for yourself and your family.
Research the neighborhood and type of home you’re buying. Owning a home isn’t just about the roof over your head; you also have to deal with the area around your home. Research everything before you buy, including the schools, location, and crime rates. What is the traffic like and how will your commute be each day? How far will you travel to your favorite grocery stores and shops? How noisy is your street?
Even the perfect home can add to your stress if it’s in a bad location or if the surrounding area isn’t ideal for you.
Get a home inspection. A home inspection can be one of the most valuable tools for homebuyers and may also alleviate some of the fear of buying a house. A certified inspection can help identify hidden issues and necessary repairs, even if they aren’t visible or obvious. Some buyers will waive the home inspection when bidding in a hot market, but this can lead to serious issues down the line. So think twice before you waive this important step.
Look up current and past property taxes. Your monthly home costs involve more than just your loan amount and interest. It’s important to also consider property taxes, as these can sometimes be as much as your mortgage payment!
Visit your county’s tax assessor website to see what the current property tax rates are and how they have trended in recent years. Then, factor this cost into your budget when deciding what you can afford.
Consider HOA and other fees. If your potential new home is part of an HOA, that may be a deal breaker for you. Determine how much those fees will cost you annually. What are the guidelines and rules of the HOA? Do you have a problem with any of them? Also, what does your HOA membership include and what will cost you extra each year?
Dealing with anxiety after buying a house
While the process of buying a home is stressful, the anxiety after buying a house can be equally unnerving. This stress can continue to affect you long after closing. If you’re feeling scared after buying a house — or want to ensure that you don’t regret your decision — there are some steps you can take.
For example, the stress of monthly expenses can be avoided, or at least limited, by creating a firm budget beforehand. Be honest with yourself about what you can comfortably afford, and build an added buffer for unexpected bills or future repairs. Having a solid emergency fund can also help, whether property taxes increase, you lose your job, or your new home suddenly needs a new roof.
Buyer’s remorse is another common issue and one you may very well encounter after making such a big purchase. If you’ve done your due diligence on the property, though, and have spent within your means, this feeling will likely dissipate with time.
In the end, it’s important to focus only on things you can control. Do your best to analyze your finances, prepare for the worst, and get the best deal possible on your new property, and you’ll improve your chances of a low-stress experience. You can also work with a housing counselor, who can help walk you through the homebuying process and ease the stress of buying a home.
Finding the house that suits you best can be frustrating and may take several weeks or even months. However, planning ahead and following these tips can help you feel more empowered as you embark on your homebuying journey.
Need help getting a mortgage? Contact Finance of America Mortgage to discuss pre-approval today.