How Emotions Affect Home Buyers



According to the 2021 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, Millennials have made up the largest share of home buyers since 2014. Today, the percentage is broken down into Younger Millennial buyers (ages 22 to 30 years) at 14% and Older Millennials (ages 31 to 40 years) at 23%. As an entire group, 54% of Millennials believe it will remain a strong buyers’ market for at least another 12 months. Even with rapidly rising home prices, the vast majority of Americans (73%) still think that buying a home is a good investment right now. Singling out Millennials, that number rises to 80%.

First time home buyers
Home buyers – courtesy © vgstudio – Fotolia.com

In this tight market, buyers can expect it to take many months between first checking their credit score and when they’ll close on a home. At the same time, these buyers will be forced to make fast decisions that can include everything from a slightly higher interest rate for a larger loan to competing in bidding wars when a desired house comes on the market. All combined, this fills the process with emotions. After all, this about your future, the place where your kids will grow up, and where family memories will be made. Home buying has always been emotional but in today’s hot market, buyers will do better by managing their emotions the best they can.

Have Reasonable Expectations

There is no set amount of time that it takes to successfully sign a purchase agreement but today it’s reasonable to expect it to take five to eight months. And that requires putting in consistent effort the entire time. You’ll be viewing properties online, talking to agents, touring houses, and making offers even when you think someone else will make a better offer. But you never know when your backup offer might be the one that goes to the closing table. At the same time, you may need to pace yourself to avoid burning out or giving up.

Try to be resilient even when you’re overcome with emotion. You aren’t alone. One study found that:

  • About 33% of buyers cried at some point in the process.
  • Half of all buyers experienced significant anxiety.
  • At least 44% felt nervous through the entire process.
  • And 20% thought it was the most stressful life-experience they had so far.

Be prepared to make compromises. Unless you have an unlimited budget and are building your dream home, it’s not likely you’ll find everything that you want in one house. One way to reduce stress and anxiety is by deciding upfront on where you are willing to make compromises and where you want to hold your ground. This isn’t always about luxuries like a fireplace in the master bedroom. Some compromises can be about basics like the maximum price, your work commute, and the minimum size home you’re willing to accept. The more you can prioritize your list, the easier and faster you’ll be able to make decisions.

Be Prepared to Decide Fast

You already know that many houses are selling in weeks rather than months. You don’t have the luxury of looking at a house on Sunday and thinking about it before making an offer on Wednesday. This is a big part of why stress and anxiety are high for today’s buyers. If the house is in your price range, the house has no deal-breakers, and it has several amenities that you want, you probably need to make an offer within 24 hours. There will almost certainly be other offers within the first few days.

This is not the time to be pondering things like what the home inspection might turn up (but you do want a home inspection clause). Your agent should be able to give you a professional opinion if the house will meet the appraisal requirements. And it’s helpful if you already have a working relationship with your lender, and any lawyers or others who will be involved. One thing that you may need to do on the spot is ask for HOA or condo association documents that you need to review before making an offer.

Stay in Touch with Your Agent

Buying a house is a complicated transaction from start to finish. If you want to see every house coming on the market that is close to meeting your criteria, you would be wise to share your compromise list with your agent. It might mean some disappointment when looking at houses you didn’t think you’d have to consider but at least you’ll be informed about what is out there if you decide to shorten your priority list.

Your agent is there for much more than just showing houses until your offer is accepted. He or she is there to guide you through the entire process. Your agent will help you navigate from point A (making an offer) to point Z (closing). Agents know how to respond to all the challenges that can be involved. Don’t be shy about asking questions and for their advice. An experienced agent has seen it all before and can probably offer multiple solutions when you can’t think of a single one. That big problem that has your anxiety at the highest level is probably something they deal with daily.

Reap your reward. When the inspections, appraisal, and paperwork seem endless, envision yourself gardening in your very own backyard, a white picket fence for your kids, and entertaining friends in that amazing living room with the huge windows. Generations have gotten through the emotions of buying a home and so will you.

There are no all-inclusive answers to managing emotions when buying a home. What insights can you add with a comment?

Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to askbrian@realtybiznews.com.

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 12 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, near a national and the Pacific Ocean.