How to Cope With the Stress of Buying a Home

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Home buying is an emotional experience that's personal to each buyer. When your emotions are involved in a purchase, there's a possibility that those emotions can get out of hand. Moreover, the list of things that could go wrong is extensive.

Sellers can be unreasonable and argumentative. A home inspection may reveal defects. Lenders may reject your loan. You could receive a low appraisal. Your agent might not communicate well with you or meet your expectations. The title company could find a cloud on the title or an unknown lien. Your moving company could go bankrupt.

All the potential upset can certainly make for stressful situations, but you don't need to wallow in that stress. By taking concrete steps to counteract anxiety, and by recognizing when things are beyond your control, you can manage your stress throughout the buying process.

Start by Poring Over the Purchase Offer

Get a copy of your agent's purchase agreement that you will sign before looking at homes. Take it home and read it carefully. Ask questions about parts you don't understand. Sign it only after you're completely comfortable with its contents. Here is a partial list of details an offer may contain that you need to understand:

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 Coping Mechanisms While Waiting for an Offer Response

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 take over your brain. 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—get into a new video game, read a book, or go on a long run. Remind yourself that you cannot control the outcome. It's up to the seller to respond. In the meantime, trust in yourself that you have submitted your best offer.

Use Your Agent to Prepare for the Closing Period

Preparation is your best stress deterrent while you wait for the sale to close. Do your homework well 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, step-by-step. 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 pre-approval letter from the lender. You should also submit your paperwork in an orderly fashion and pay for an appraisal before waiting for the sale to close. If the lender requires more documentation, don't hesitate—just dig it up and submit it. Any hesitation will delay the process and create more opportunities for stress to build.