Welcome to this month’s installment of Dear urbaneer where we post our dialogue with clients, helping them find answers to real-estate related questions. This time around, we don one of our many hats as realtors, as this house-hunting weary client reflects on the emotional journey that they’ve taken during their house hunt.
There was a time, long before I actually started my house hunt that I thought looking for a home would be fun. As I pored through glossy magazines and devoured HGTV looking for inspiration, I daydreamed about the possibilities. But somewhere along the way, with high-pressure bidding wars, a screaming sense of urgency, worry about taking out a lot of debt and/or missing out on opportunities and quickly adapting to having to temper expectations, I find I’m worn out from these emotional highs and lows. What I am realizing is that I vastly underestimated strenuous emotional gymnastics that I’d have to take on to buy a house in this market. Am I over reacting? Is this something that you deal with often?
Losing my Real Estate Mojo
If there is strength in numbers, then take a great deal of comfort from the fact that you are not alone. Given the market conditions in Toronto and the wild mismatch between buyers and available housing stock, there is always an emotional storm a-brewin’, so many, many buyers are in your very same boat.
And to your first point - buying a home is fun - once you actually get there. It’s a huge accomplishment that contributes to your sense of pride, as well as fulfilling a number of psychological needs, which we touched on in our recent blog, Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs And Toronto Real Estate, For Sellers (stay tuned for Part 2 specifically written for Buyers). But given the length and the emotional bumpiness of the road to buying that home of your dreams, it’s understandable if you lose sight of the “sunny side” of the street.
As Realtors, it’s our job to guide you through the business side of locating and securing your next home. However, we fully admit that our scope of support goes wayyyy beyond the transaction. Not only does the market call for a little more emotional TLC for our clients, it’s how we roll. We care about you during your house hunt, and long after you are ensconced in your dream home. It’s true.
Do you need a little perking up? A motivational speech to get you through the next bidding war? Hope restored? The fortitude and faith to walk away from a deal because it’s not “just right”? Do you need a hug?
Not to worry - all of that and more is part of our job description as Realtors.
The Emotional Connection
When you think about it, it’s not surprising that real estate in general is fraught with emotion. Buying or selling a home can be very nerve-wracking. For many, you are venturing into unfamiliar territory with heavy decisions that can have implications for years to come.
One of our most important jobs as Realtors? To be the cool head when emotions are running high, that extra critical set of eyes when you’ve got rose coloured glasses on and to perpetually play devil’s advocate. We’re all about helping you connect your head to your heart to make good decisions. And it starts with exploring What You Want Your Home To Say About You.
Specifically, in real estate, there are some emotions that surface very frequently that we need to temper. In a hot market like that in the City of Toronto, fear is often the emotion that drives decisions, whether you are selling (fear of selling for too little or for holding out for too much) or buying (fear of missing out).
One way in which we counter this fear is with cold hard facts, derived from our decades of experience in the market, our consistent monitoring of the condominium and freehold markets, plus relying on our highly-tuned intuition that comes only with years in the industry. With experience comes a business acumen that supports our point of view and shapes the advice we dispense to you. Fear, really, is when you’re dealing with the unknown, so by sharing our knowledge and insights we can quickly guide you on what to anticipate - which can help reduce the emotional response that fear delivers as a motivator. We addressed this last month in our Dear urbaneer series in Should I Buy Toronto Real Estate Now Or Should I Wait?
Stay the Course
Another calming influence we offer is that of consistency. Together at the outset of your house hunt, we determine what your objectives are as clearly as possible, and then we'll circle around these goals consistently in an effort to help you both evolve with changing market conditions while staying a steady course. There's no question that this is a tremendous challenge in the City of Toronto, given the quickly moving market and the ups and downs.
At every crossroads (i.e. housing purchase opportunity) - and the reality that securing the right property takes many of our Buyers anywhere from 6 months to one year - the temptation to throw your wish list, budget or other criteria aside exists (here's some of our posts offering sage advice called Is It Time To Increase My Home Budget?, Should I Use My RRSP As A Down Payment? and Should I Max Out My House Hunting Budget With CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance?)
The temptation is particularly strong if you’re a weary house hunter. Weary house hunters are worn down and their collective fatigue is actually one reason values are increasing at the pace they are. It's one of four reasons for precedent-setting prices we wrote about in this post called Oh So Weary Of Bidding Wars.
Part of our job is to not only navigate you through the here and now of the market dynamics (see Why Is The Toronto Real Estate Market So Hot?), but to also help you envision how the property will serve you years down the road after your purchase. It’s all about matching you with the home you seek. Some compromise might be necessary to achieve your housing goals, but it’s about balance. Over compensating with compromise just to close a deal will quickly lead to buyer regret, which may linger as a bitter pill for some time to come.
It may seem counterintuitive, but we spend a great deal of time actually talking our clients out of purchases. If we feel that a home is inappropriate, for whatever reason (pricing, condition, location) we stand our ground - in your best interest, of course - to supply you with the fortitude to walk away.
The Bridge to Compromise
We’re not therapists by any means, but we do spend a great deal of time helping couples see eye to eye when looking at properties. It’s not uncommon for couples to have completely different points of view on nearly everything housing: location, budget, housing type, housing size, finishes, layout, features and whether your housing match is for Move-in Ready Or Fixer Upper?
There is always middle ground in for all of these topics, but it can be difficult to find, especially if emotions are running high. We’ve got the calm presence to help couples to navigate to that middle ground for that housing happily ever after. And even after you've secured a property, we're here for you, as we wrote about in Help! We Want to Renovate, And Keep Our Relationship Intact!, How Do We Set Our Home Up For Financial Success?, and We’ve Moved In To Our New Home. Now What?
Include Everyone Equally
We help you consider your purchase from all the sides of the table, including all of the players - even the supporting cast.
We’re referring here, of course, to the growing phenomenon here in the City of Toronto, where homebuyers are frequently making withdrawals from the Bank of Mom and Dad, which we’ve written about a great deal in past blogs. Check out Relying on the Bank of Mom and Dad and Is the Bank of Mom and Dad behind Rising Housing Prices?
Given the high price of housing, more and more often parents are gifting or lending their children large sums of money to help them jump into the home ownership pool.
In these particular scenarios, we’ve got to be sensitive to the varying points of view on a purchase. Because the Bank of Mom and Dad is financially invested in the property, you’ve got to give them a voice and the opportunity to share input and feedback. You’ve also got to balance the wishes of the homeowner, the child, and help support their points of view independently. It’s all about balance, respect and making the process collaborative.
Stages Of Grief
There are few more emotionally charged experience than losing out in a bidding war. And if you are subject to losing out in more than one bidding war the emotional highs and lows accumulate and intensify.
When you experience such an emotionally weighted loss, you experience symptoms and emotions associated with other types of loss - which actually closely mirrors Kubler’s five stages of grief.
The initial response is denial, which quickly gives way to anger. It’s in this stage, where self-doubt in the search can cement itself. You question your fortitude, strategy and begin to feel like “it’s just not fair.” The next stage is bargaining, where your heart vastly overrules your head, as you begin to consider what else you could do (or could have done) to win that coveted property. If only I had done (insert regret here) differently, I could have had the outcome I wanted, and so on.
As the emotional lows of the loss begin to settle, it’s normal to feel sadness and despair, but rest assured - this too shall pass. Eventually, once you’ve processed all of these emotions, we’ll remind you of your initial strategy and rally behind you to re-enter the chase, while offering you our insights on Why It's So Hard To Buy The House You Want.
Are the emotional highs and lows of your housing search running you ragged? We’ve got the experience, compassion and common sense to help you stay on track to reach your housing goals in these difficult markets, so if you're feeling frustrated please know we welcome exploring how we might best assist you with your search, ok?
And, if by chance you're a first time buyer feeling a bit reticent to embark on the journey to homeownership, consider starting off with our nuts and bolts guidance in I Need A Crash Course In First Time Home Buying!
At urbaneer, we’re always here to help!
~ Steven and the urbaneer team
earn you trust, then your business
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
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