There’s no getting around the fact that buying a home is a huge expense, and like most big financial decisions, it can get pretty stressful. Spending that much money at once can feel like life or death, and the simple act of handing over a down payment can be enough to make your anxiety flare up. To help you keep your cool, we’ve highlighted four ways to stay zen while you’re house hunting.
1. Take control of the process
It can be tempting to take a back seat and let the pros lead the way through all the listings and loans. However, even though your real estate agent and lender are there to help you through this process, only you know what’s best for you and your family.
That’s why it’s important to play an active role while house hunting. Speak up about any available listings that you would like to go see. Shop around for the right lender, rather than going with the one your agent recommends. Be on the lookout for the lowest available home insurance rates before you decide to go with any particular agency.
Put simply, doing your due diligence can help you feel prepared and in control instead of anxious about whether or not you’re finding the best homes or rates. According to research by Freddie Mac, soon-to-be-homeowners save an average of $1,500 if they get multiple rate quotes before deciding on their loan program. In San Diego, for example, consumers pay an average of $905 for home insurance. However, by shopping around they can find rates as low as $573 — a substantial savings.
2. Sort out your priorities
One of the best ways to combat stress is to get organized. In the case of searching for a new home, that translates to having a firm idea of what characteristics you want your new home to have. Reason holds that the clearer you are on what you’re hoping to find, the less time and energy you will spend chasing after listings that, ultimately, won’t serve your needs.
To help you sort out your priorities, we recommend sitting down and making two lists that will help guide your home search. First, make a “must-have” list, which includes all the essential features that your new home needs, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms or the home’s proximity to work or school.
Then, make a “wish list,” which will include any features that you’d like to have in the home that aren’t absolutely necessary. In this case, you’d list features like an HVAC system or an in-ground pool. Ideally, the property you choose will check off all the boxes on your must-have list and at least some of the items on your wish list, but knowing that you’re only considering homes that meet your basic criteria can help cut down on decision fatigue.
3. Walk the neighborhood
Experts agree that even something as simple as going for a walk can help bring down your stress levels. According to Harvard Health Publishing, just 30 to 40 minutes of moderate physical activity (like walking) can help lower the levels of adrenaline and cortisol — also known as the stress hormones — in your body. Walking also stimulates the production of endorphins, which can boost your mood.
While you’re searching for a home, kill two birds with one stone by walking around neighborhoods where you think you may want to buy. Take the opportunity to scope out how active the community seems and how close you’d be to amenities like gyms, salons or parks.
4. Get support
Finally, when it comes to staying zen while house hunting, there are few strategies better than simply venting about your stresses with loved ones. The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends social support as one of their top suggestions for reducing stress overall. Best of all, it doesn’t matter which method of communication you choose. Talking in person, over the phone or even venting through a letter have been shown to be effective.
What does make a difference, however, is who you choose to talk to. The APA recommends choosing someone who you know will be capable of understanding your stress and validating your emotions. With that in mind, we recommend talking to someone who has been through the homebuying process before. They will be more likely to understand exactly what it is about your house hunt that is making you feel stressed out in the first place.
The bottom line
Though buying a new home can be stressful, it is possible to manage these feelings. By taking the suggestions above into account, you should be able to keep your stress levels to a minimum. Use them as your guide on keeping your cool, even when it feels like the process will drive you crazy.