Home buying can be a stressful experience. After all, a lot can go wrong. For instance, sellers can be unreasonable and argumentative, a home inspection may reveal defects, lenders may reject your loan, or you could receive a low appraisal. In addition, your agent might not communicate well with you or meet your expectations, or the title company could find a cloud on the title or an unknown lien.
However, you can reduce home-buying stress by taking concrete steps to counteract anxiety. Here are a few to consider.
- Find the right real estate agent by asking friends and family for recommendations and interviewing two or three potential agents.
- Familiarize yourself with the purchase agreement that your agent uses, so that you’ll be familiar with the terminology when it’s time to make an offer.
- Ask your agent to walk you through the homebuying process, including the necessary paperwork and the problems that could arise.
Find the Right Real Estate Agent
While it might be tempting to go with the first real estate agent you encounter, take the time to interview at least two or three agents. Ask trusted advisors, friends, and family for recommendations. Take a look at their reviews and how receptive they are to your questions.
Consider looking for a realtor. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors, and they're held to a high ethical standard. Not all real estate agents are realtors.
Overall, look for an agent who you feel comfortable with and trust. The right real estate agent can help you navigate the challenges of buying a home, and that can eliminate a lot of the stress.
Review the Purchase Offer
Before you start looking at homes, get a copy of the purchase agreement your agent uses. Your purchase agreement is a contract that establishes the terms of a home sale. Rather than waiting until you're ready to put in an offer and rushing through it, review it in advance and ask questions about the parts you don't understand. Here is a partial list of details a purchase agreement may contain that you should understand:
- Purchase price: This is the amount you're offering to pay for the home.
- Earnest money deposit: This is the amount you're submitting with the purchase agreement.
- Down payment: This is the amount you're paying upfront for the home.
- Loan amount: This is the amount you're borrowing for the home.
- Closing date: This is when you'll sign the final paperwork.
- Contract contingencies, including inspections, loans, and appraisals: These are conditions that must be met for the sale to go through.
- Closing costs: These are costs you'll pay when you close on your home, including homeowner's insurance, mortgage insurance, property taxes, and title insurance.
The earlier you understand these terms and how they fit into your home buying plan, the more you can reduce stress throughout the process.
Practice Stress Management
What if the seller rejects your offer? What if the seller makes an unreasonable counter offer that you can't afford? Did you offer too little? Too much? These kinds of thoughts can easily dominate your thinking. You may begin to needlessly strategize, saying to yourself, "If the seller does X, we'll do Y."
If you feel the anxiety building after making an offer, try a coping technique to minimize your stress. Start by calling your agent or a loved one who has recently bought a home, and talk through your feelings and concerns. After that, focus on something else that requires your undivided attention like a new video game, reading a book, or watching a movie.
Remind yourself that you cannot control the outcome. It's up to the seller to respond. In the meantime, trust that you have submitted your best offer.
Lean on Your Agent
Preparation is your best stress deterrent while you wait for the sale to close. Do your homework before you reach this point so you know what to expect.
It's never too early (or too late) to ask your agent to walk you through the home buying process. Your real estate agent can be an invaluable resource for you at a time like this. Experienced agents know how to predict possible problems and they can solve them before they become giant headaches. Whatever happens during this period will fall partly on your agent's shoulders. Don't be afraid to ask questions until you understand.
The preparation steps your agent should mention will include getting a preapproval letter from your lender. You should also submit your paperwork in a timely fashion and pay for an appraisal before waiting for the sale to close. If the lender requires more documentation, submit it right away. Any hesitation will delay the process and create more opportunities for stress to build.