How Logic and Emotion Affect Buying a Home
The logistics of buying a home can be complicated for most of us. There is a lot of paperwork and steps we take before we arrive at the closing table and are given the keys to our new kingdom. What many buyers are not aware of is the battle between logic and emotion that is part of the process.
For most of us, the purchase of real estate is the most substantial monetary investment we will make in our life. Given that, we should consider the pros and cons logically and make sure the numbers work before making an offer on any property. However, buying a home is more than values on a spreadsheet, and the reason emotion must play a part in the process.
Home is More Than Wood, Brick, and Stone
A home is a place we celebrate our lives. It’s where we display family heirlooms and treasured mementos. It’s the place we rock our babies, dry their tears, share their laughter, and help them realize their dreams. It’s where memories are born of family gatherings, where we break bread with friends, toast success, and mourn a loss. When we are considering a home’s potential, if our heart is not singing a little song, it may be wise to take a pass.
Every buyer wants to avoid remorse over the long term, and there are ways to achieve that tricky balance between logic and emotion. Working with a professional whose advice you trust is the first step, but as a buyer, you need to set some ground rules for yourself from the beginning of the home buying process. You need to know when to listen to the little voice of reason in your head and when to follow your heart.
The Pros of Emotional Buying Decisions
Memories of childhood homes often generate a sense of safety and well being. Often it may be a particular home feature that inspires a buyer. For an artist, it might be space for a studio with perfect lighting. An avid gardener might be won over by a beautifully landscaped yard. Perhaps a particular home has the ideal floorplan. Whatever may be the trigger, as soon as a buyer begins picturing themselves and their belongings in the home they are touring, the emotions inspire the buying decision.
The advantage of making the emotional connection is that the odds are that the buyer will be happy in the new home and likely to enjoy maintaining it. Also, the house will likely fill the family’s needs for years into the future, and they will live in it for a long time. However, when the right side of the brain doesn't allow input from the left side, a poor decision may be the outcome.
Traps to Avoid When You Love a House
- Paying more than you planned is a very common pitfall when your home buying decision relies too heavily on emotional factors. If you feel you must have a particular house at all costs, you may offer more than you had planned for in your housing budget. Paying too much is especially likely if you are involved in a bidding war for a particular home. A recent survey by Bankrate found that 7 percent of homebuyers suffered remorse due to high mortgage payments. Avoid this pitfall, don’t talk yourself into spending more than you feel comfortable with for a house.
- Making compromises on basic needs is another way buyers talk themselves into the wrong home. Clients of mine, considering their future needs, wanted a three-bedroom house. While searching listings online, they found a two-bedroom with a kitchen and a back yard they fell in love with and convinced themselves they could manage with two bedrooms. Nothing I said could change their minds. They fell into the 17 percent of homebuyers that regretted buying the wrong size house. Two years later they contacted me to list their home and help them buy a three-bedroom.
- In the same Bankrate survey, 10 percent of homeowners experience buyers' remorse because they bought in the wrong location. A couple of downsizing empty-nester clients listed their suburban family home, located in a community where they had lived for 30 years. Their plan was to buy a smaller property or a townhouse in the same general location. Soon after receiving an offer on their home, they decided instead to experience the urban city lifestyle and live in the heart of all the action. They fell in love with a downtown condo with a magnificent view and made a quick buying decision based entirely on emotion. Sadly they soon came to hate the drive back to visit friends and participate in activities they enjoyed in the suburbs.
All of the buying mistakes above would not have happened if the buyers had used more head and less heart in their decision. When purchasing a home, a list of wants and needs is a necessity. Needs should not be an area for compromise. Ignoring the upper limits of your housing budget can lead to credit card debt and sleepless nights worrying about paying the mortgage. Adding a bedroom may be impossible, but you can always renovate a kitchen or a bath. The reality of adopting a whole new lifestyle is often not as romantic as fantasizing about it. Do not make hasty home-buying decisions without exploring all the possibilities.
The Pros of Logic Driven Decisions
Some buyers make data-driven buying decisions and leave emotion out of the process. They focus on price, resale value, taxes and the stats of other homes in the area. They consider the property they purchase as an investment rather than a home. They have less risk and less unpleasant surprises because they generally have thought about every scenario before they decide to buy.
The Cons of Ignoring Your Emotions.
Your home is more than an investment. A 401K is an investment. Your home is your safe harbor and your retreat. When you do not give your feelings consideration, it is very likely you might find you do not enjoy living in the house you purchased. Often so much so that you end up putting it on the market sooner than you originally planned, absorbing the expense and starting the process all over.
As in many aspects of life, making a sound home buying decision requires paying attention to both the data and your feelings. Also, find a great real estate agent and ask for their advice. If you listen to the voice of reason and the song in your heart at the same time, you should be fine.
As always, thanks for reading.
You know where to find me – Joe