Buying a house is an emotional and highly personal decision. I once bought a 160 year old farmhouse because it looked just like a picture I had drawn on a napkin of ‘My Dream House’. It was a perfect Greek Revival raised cottage with perfect proportions, floor-to-ceiling windows, heart-of-pine floors and 14 foot tall ceilings. It overlooked corn fields and cow pastures. It also was a 30 minute schlep from my son’s preschool, had no central heating or cooling system and the kitchen was located in the basement. Don’t even ask. I made a highly emotional decision on that one!
Where you live can affect quality of life for you and your whole family. You want to love your home, but you also want to make a smart investment. This is where people often feel conflicted. What’s more important… the way a house makes you FEEL or whether or not the purchase is a sound investment decision? These two aspects of the decision-making process are both important, and buyers should give them equal weight.
When I see and hear potential buyers envisioning themselves, their pets and their furniture in a house, it’s apparent they are making an emotional attachment to the property. Which is great. But, those feelings have to be balanced with the practical realities of the purchase. Is it a sound investment? Is the house over-priced? Is it in an area that will remain viable when we decide to sell? Does the house have the right square-footage? Is it convenient to our work, schools and social activities? Are the roof and the major systems in good working condition? The logical side of the brain has work to do, as well.
You want to love your home. You want to love your neighborhood and your neighbors. Whatever makes you happy about a house-natural sunlight, high ceilings, a great kitchen, a nice family room, a basement for your pool table-will be the thing that helps create happy memories for you and your loved ones over time in your home. But, you have to weigh the pro’s and cons before you make an emotional snap decision. Buyers have to maintain a bit of detachment from the house, so they’re able to walk away from a bad deal.
But, what about Analysis Paralysis? That’s not good, either. I’ve seen buyers become so obsessed with weighing pros and cons, making lists and trying to outsmart rival purchasers that they lose the house of their dreams. I see this with first-time homebuyers, especially. They get so wrapped up in the minutia of the finances, they forget about the reason they wanted to buy a house in the first place which is ‘BECAUSE YOU NEED A PLACE TO LIVE’. Buyers should remember that 1/10 of a percentage point won’t change your bottom line enough to continue haggling. And, buyers should never get caught up in haggling just for the sake of haggling. Same thing with the inspection…buyers shouldn’t dig in and lose a deal over a few hundred dollars. If money is that tight, they shouldn’t be buying a house just yet.
It’s true that ‘home is where the heart is’. My perfectly imperfect Greek Revival farmhouse turned out, in the end, to be an ok financial decision. But, the memories of living in such a magnificent and magical place with my young children and their father are some of my fondest memories. So, buyers please try to remember both the emotional as well as the monetary reasons for buying a home.