9 ways to ease your stress of buying a house

Woman stressed buying a house

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There are so many things to think about and keep track of, from sorting out your finances and getting pre-approved to finally choosing a home, to then deal with home inspections, appraisals, and potential title search issues.

Emotions can be all over the place during this time. You may feel elated about buying a new home, but you may also feel nervous about your mortgage loan application and all the steps between this moment and closing day.

There are things you can’t control during the home buying process, like the current housing market. However, here are some things you can do to ease your stress of buying a house and make your home purchase go more smoothly.

Familiarize yourself with the process

One of the most important things you can do to reduce stress is to educate and familiarize yourself with the process of home buying. Today’s real estate market is fast moving and always evolving as laws, procedures and technology change. What was customary just a year ago may not be so today.

Though there is an overabundance of real estate-related information on TV and the internet, it’s not all good, relevant information. Every state has different regulatory requirements, and every micro-market has its own way of handling transactions. This is why hiring a local, qualified, licensed real estate professional is so important to prepare you for what to expect throughout each step of becoming a homeowner.

Work with the right real estate agent

You need to find a real estate agent who will take the time to clearly explain the steps to buying a house, and who can guide and resolve potential complications that come up along the way. Not all transactions are identical, and there are countless complications that can affect or ruin a transaction, so having an experienced expert by your side to anticipate and fix issues is so important.

How to find the right agent for you

Having an expert that fits your unique situation is the key to easing the stress of buying a house. At the very minimum, make sure your agent is a member of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), which is a trade organization that requires its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics and be a part of a local board. Only real estate agents who are NAR members can use the title of REALTOR.

Interview a trusted agent and assess them according to the following criteria:

  • Are they knowledgeable about your local market conditions?
  • Do they have a network of trusted real estate professionals (e.g home inspectors, loan officers, attorneys, title and abstract companies)?
  • Do they understand your unique needs and circumstances?
  • Can they clearly communicate with you?
  • Do they have past client testimonials or reviews?
  • Do they have any local or national certifications and/or designations (e.g. ABR/CBR)?

It is critical to choose someone who understands your goals and can help you achieve them.

Focus on getting a pre-approved from a mortgage lender

Mortgage eligibility is one of the first things you should focus on when buying a house. A pre-approval will tell you how much you can afford to spend and how much money you will need to save for a down payment. Keep in mind that not every home loan has the same requirements, so be sure to discuss with your loan officer what mortgage loan financing options are available for your current financial situation.

Remember that as mortgage interest rates increase, your buying power decreases, so you want to make sure your pre-approval is up to date throughout your search. And most sellers (especially in a seller’s market) will not entertain an offer without an updated mortgage pre-approval.

Have a flexible time frame

In New York, and on Long Island specifically, a typical home sale can take between 30-45 days to close once in contract. But how long can a buyer expect the home search to take before signing contracts?

Controlling the time frame can be nerve-wracking, especially if your lease is ending soon or the home you are living in is being sold. In today’s market, the home search phase for buyers can take several months due to low inventory and rampant bidding wars.

Try to be flexible with your timing of finding a house and property that suits all your criteria. Plan extra time for scheduling conflicts to occur and be reasonable and understanding with finalizing a deal.

Save enough cash

You not only have to save money for a down payment, but you will need money saved for the home inspection, mortgage origination fees, underwriting fees, applicable legal fees, recording fees, homeowner’s insurance, title insurance and other incidentals and closing costs that come with purchasing a property.

Save money by paying all your bills on time, reducing your debts, and staying on top of your bank statements. Financial or other benefit programs can help lighten the load, but you will still need to put some of your own money into savings. Too much debt can affect your mortgage loan eligibility and the interest rate given on your loan.

Be realistic when searching for your future home

I’m sorry to break it to you, but the idea of the perfect dream home is as fantastical as the notion of Santa Claus. And though most buyers know this is true, some still can’t help but believe. Your options when buying a house are limited to what is currently available for sale. You must choose the best property for your needs out of these options. Even if you have an unlimited budget, there will always be some give and take.

Needs vs. wants

Having a clear understanding of your must-have needs versus your would-be-nice wants will help ease the stress of buying a house. If not having a garage is a deal-breaker, then it’s a need. If you’re comfortable with a covered carport, then it is a want.

Every buyer must be realistic about what is attainable within their budget and within the neighborhoods they are looking. You may want an acre property within 15 minutes of New York City, but that may not exist in any price range. Perhaps a half-acre property within 15 minutes of the city would work, or maybe a house on an acre farther from the city would work best for your needs. And you may find that being farther away means the low noise level is an added plus!

Research neighborhoods

Having too wide of a search radius can make it difficult to compare potential homes. Drive around the areas you are looking to buy in and get to know what life would be like living in these communities. Visit an open house, browse online listings, and walk around neighborhoods to see if it makes sense for your lifestyle.

Then make a list of your top three to five neighborhoods. Start your search at your most preferred neighborhood and work your way down the list.

Stick to your budget

Getting your hopes up for a house that is outside of your maximum pre-approval amount will only add more home buying stress to your life. If a home’s price is more than you can afford, it’s simply not an option, and comparing homes within your budget to a house outside of your budget will only lead to disappointment.

There’s no need to put extra pressure on yourself by settling for a house that costs more money than you can spend. House maintenance costs can add up, and the best way to prevent buyer’s remorse in the future is to find a home that best fits your needs within a comfortable budget.

Ask questions

Don’t feel embarrassed when asking questions. Questions allow you to get the information you need to make the best decision. 

Some important questions to ask when finding a home:

  • What is the seller’s timeline for selling?
  • Does the house require flood insurance?
  • What is included or excluded in the sale?
  • How old are the roof and utilities in the house?

You can also take advantage of asking questions from different people in the industry, like your potential real estate agent, mortgage lender, or lawyer. By this, you can have the edge over other buyers that are not fully knowledgeable about what they are getting into.

Bonus tip: Have patience

Buying a new home can be the most stressful event in our lives. With so many things to consider, it’s important to be prepared and equipped with knowledge, expert help, and patience.

Don’t make any unnecessary quick decisions, as buying a house is a huge investment. There can be problems throughout the home-buying process, which is why you should rely on your REALTOR’s experience and knowledge.

If you’re looking for an expert that will guide you throughout buying your new house on Long Island, I can help you. Feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to discuss your options with you.

Author

Cristina Morizio

Long Island real estate agent Cristina Morizo
As an experienced REALTOR® and Long Island native, I know the ins and outs of the real estate market. I help home buyers, sellers, investors and homeowners navigate and negotiate. Questions? Ready to buy or sell? Let’s talk!

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