Taking Emotion Out of Buying a House

After months of house hunting, the Johnsons had grown weary. With their long list of items that the “perfect” house must have, they feared they wouldn’t ever find what they were looking for. Sure, the last house they saw had everything they needed, but it just didn’t feel like home.

And then, the impossible happened. They entered a beautiful house and were immediately swept away by its charm, hominess, modern updates, and the scent of freshly baked cookies. It seemed as though a discussion was barely needed—despite the fact that it was way beyond their budget. They were ready to make an offer.

From an outsider’s perspective, this seems like a rash decision. However, it’s a common scenario that plays out every day as realtors and wide-eyed homebuyers search for a new house. And it’s a dangerous habit that should be broken immediately.

Buying a house is an emotional time. Between changes in life stages (maybe you’re getting married and want to buy a house with your fiancé), financial considerations, disagreements, and general stress of the search process, it’s no wonder people are clouded by various emotions every time they look at a house. Most are eager to find a new home, and it can take a long time before they find something they actually like. And when they do, they want it immediately. But it’s not their fault.

People in the real estate industry often refer to the “80/20 rule of real estate buying,” which is that 80 percent of what drives a decision to buy a house is pure emotion, while only 20 percent is logic. Additional research on consumer behavior also supports the power of emotion during a buyer’s decision-making process. Smells, interior design, sounds—all of which can evoke personal memories and positive or negative associations—have the power to influence homebuyers, whether they’re aware of them or not. In many cases, they can override important factors such as price, square footage, and location.

Although you might think a house is worth spending extra on because it’s where you’ll be living and it’s a good investment, it’s important to control your emotions and make a logical decision. Otherwise, you could end up with more house than you need and paying more than you should or can afford. Of course, this is easier said than done.

To ensure you make the right purchase, consider what features of a house you absolutely must have and those that you simply want. While this may seem difficult at first, write a list and edit it a few times. For example, do you really need that double vanity and Jacuzzi bathtub, or can you live without them? Important items to consider include number of bedrooms, square footage, property, school district, community, and future mortgage payments.

And remember, you can always use the money you save on a more affordable house to transform it into the home of your dreams. Think about it. Would you rather live under the constant fear that you might not make your monthly mortgage payment or be able to live comfortably and use your savings to buy that Jacuzzi bathtub?

During this time, you should also interview mortgage lenders and search for the right title insurance and settlement services company. Although the idea of going with whoever the realtor recommends is appealing because it’s convenient, you can cut significant costs if you shop around and build the perfect team to help you buy your home.

As they say, home is where the heart is. While it may not be the house you fell in love with, you’ll be surprised by how happy you are in the long run.

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