According to a 2,000-person survey conducted by Homes.com, homebuying is the single most stressful experience a person undertakes in their adult life. And it’s easy to see why. Not only is it the single largest transaction most people make (and, by extension, the biggest debt a person assumes), but the process is also fraught with complexities, overlapping timelines and intense competition. It’s as though someone combined all of life’s stressors into one neat package and called it “home buying.”
Just take a quick breath. Yes, buying a home is challenging, especially if you live in a perennially hot market flush with competing buyers. But it doesn’t have to be as stressful as the study above indicates. There are actionable steps a homebuyer can take to alleviate some of the anxiety and uncertainty associated with real estate transactions.
This article is here to help by offering concrete suggestions – online platforms, digital tools, planning tips, etc. – so you can lift some of that weight off your shoulders. Remember: there’s light at the end of this tunnel in the form of a comforting new dream home.
Let’s get started.
Let’s move through the steps chronologically, starting with the planning phase. Before you engage a real estate agent, and well before you start bidding, you should sit down with your partner (if applicable) to hash out a game plan. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” And we do not want to fail.
Start by establishing a timeline, setting rough dates for when you want to start the pre-approval process, agent searching and home searching, and finishing with a rough idea for a closing date. Next, start a pre-qualification application, which should give you a general picture of what size mortgage you can afford. Communicate your criteria for a home; list the characteristics and specifications (i.e., “pets allowed” for a condo, or “central AC” for a house) and use this document as a guiding principle going forward. Lastly, start collating documents for the next step in the process (see below).
These small organizational gestures will go a long way toward mitigating stress later in the process.
After pre-qualification and before (or while you are) finding a real estate agent, you can apply for pre-approval. Unlike pre-qualification, pre-approval requires an extensive presentation of documents and a credit check. In return, the bank will give you a locked-in interest rate for around four months (depending on your country). Pre-approval is an essential bit of reassurance as you start making offers.
In tandem with the pre-approval process, you can also whip out a digital affordability calculator. These formula-driven tools field your mortgage size, amortization period, interest rate, income and additional expenses to give you a general understanding of what you can afford to pay each month. If one of the key stressors in your real estate journey is financial overextension, an affordability calculator can be a potent salve.
We’re really in it now! And it’s time to find a real estate agent that will tirelessly support and guide you. In the past, consumers were at the mercy of agency marketing (think Yellow Pages, bus bench ads and aggressive email campaigns) in the search for representation. Nowadays, a buyer can use Nobul – a real estate digital marketplace that gives you all the resources you need to succeed.
Nobul arms buyers with conventionally-hidden information on real estate agents – like sales histories, verified reviews, commission rates (if you’re buying and selling) and more. It’s a fully transparent platform that doesn’t ask for any money or data in return. And it can help ensure a stress-free search for the right real estate partner.
“This is what people are demanding nowadays,” says CEO Regan McGee. The CEO told BNN Bloomberg “especially millennials… want information; they want transparency; they want it tech-enabled.” And let’s add one more to the list: they want it stress-free.
Historically, one of the most exacting elements of a real estate transaction process was document management. Over the course of the transaction, your agent, lawyer, notary public and bank will hand you a litany of intimidating documents, each requiring formal, rigorously-prescribed execution. It can be a white-knuckle experience.
Thankfully, e-signing and document management services make the process a breeze nowadays. With services like DocuSign, you simply tap the “sign” button where the program tells you to, and the completed documents reside in a single, consolidated hub. Don’t worry about the cost, either; real estate agents and other professionals tend to foot the bill for e-signing services.
One last way to alleviate stress as you start bidding is to remain emotionally detached until the ink dries. You will fall in love with places. And, most likely, you will lose out on a couple of those places, whether from competition or deadline lapses. Don’t let it get to you.
Leave the excitement for closing day. In the meantime, approach home hunting with the cold dispassion of an investor.
These simple steps should empower you throughout the homebuying process, sparing you the strain and suffering of disorganization and misinformation. Best of luck in your real estate journey. You’ll be in your dream home before you know it.