Updated: Apr 15
For many, anticipating buying a home is energizing, exciting, and generally positive. At first. Then the weeks and months pass and you either haven’t found the perfect home, or you’ve lost out on an offer (or two, or three, or eight). At this point the anticipation gives way to anxiety, exhaustion, and resignation. Believe it or not, you are not alone. The fairy tale of starting your search on a Saturday and closing a few weeks later is just that—a fairy tale. The reality is the journey to your new home will be more like an epic adventure, with plenty of frustrations and hurdles along the way. Though perhaps you don’t need to act like Hercules, we do recommend you frame your expectations responsibly and realistically, more like a pragmatic Ulysses.
Most buyers in America look at ten homes in ten weeks before buying.
That number is probably higher here in Metro Boston, and even higher in Cambridge and Somerville. This means you may look at fewer than ten, or more than ten, and that’s still within the normal range! No matter how many places you see, make sure your agent can build a great offer, so that when you find your dream home, you have the best shot at getting it. If you wish to learn more about preparing to buy, read on and jot down your reactions to share with your agent. It really helps!
Set realistic expectations in terms of your time frame (if at all possible).
Yes, sometimes you must find a house in order to move for your new job that starts next month. In that case, your agent will prioritize your needs based on time. But if you have more time, or you don’t have a set deadline, allow yourself to take the time you need. Some people just want to get things done, but end up losing steam when the process drags on longer than anticipated. Liz and I are home buying experts; we’ve seen it all and can advise you on what’s normal. And no, the typical house-hunt-to-moving-day is almost never less than two months long. It’s more like three months for the rare-but-quick purchase, and up to a year or more for those who can take the time they truly need.
Understand that at some point, you may need to make compromises.
Perhaps you went into this thinking you absolutely need three bathrooms. Or a huge yard. Or you only want a house in Cambridge. But if your home search is lingering on and on, it may be time to adjust your expectations; that is, if you truly want to buy a home in the near future. We’ve worked with people who started out only considering homes in one area. After months of let-downs, they found their dream home in a neighboring community. When all is said and done, only you will know what you’re ready to let go of in order to purchase your new home.
Take a step back and start researching.
If you’re sick of seeing beautiful pictures of properties online, then being disappointed in person, put more work into your initial research rather than driving to open house after open house. Realtors hire photographers to take photos of their listings because professional pictures make any space great. Look closely at the photographs. Ask your agent for their thoughts. Read the spec sheets closely for room sizes. Check out the neighborhood online, or even better, visit. We find that most people have an immediate gut reaction to a neighborhood. If you love it, then maybe visiting a home in that area is a good idea. If you just don’t take to a certain neighborhood, don’t waste any more time looking there.
Not ready to compromise? Time to find more money.
If you simply can’t afford the house you’re yearning for, you will need to raise more cash for your purchase. Get another pre-approval for a higher mortgage if possible. Borrow money or consider putting a family member on the mortgage as a co-signer. Cash out some of your investments. To be clear, we are real estate agents, not accountants; we advise you to speak with your own CPA regarding financial issues. The above are some solutions previous buyers have come up with. But the fact remains that if you’re unable or unwilling to compromise, the money needs to be found somewhere. Maybe in your couch cushions?
Keep communicating with your agent.
If you’re feeling burnt out, let your agent know. If you don’t know how to proceed, let your agent know. When we’re in the loop, we can advise you smartly. We make it a priority to truly listen to our clients; after all, it’s in our best interest to get you to the finish line! If we haven’t shown you a home but it looks good to you, ask us about it. We might know something about it that is a deal-breaker for you, and so we filtered it out of your searches. When in doubt, ask!