As a buyer, you might find yourself wanting to see everything in your price range or have the nagging feeling you need to look at “just one more” house. You may believe you can only find your dream house by viewing every possible option during your home search in Loveland.
However, it’s proven that too many choices only increases your chance of making the wrong decision. Barry Schwartz’s book The Paradox of Choice is an excellent resource if you’re having trouble making a final decision. He explains how having too many choices increases your chance of making the wrong choice. In this article, I’ll apply this principle to the home buying process and show you how to overcome the “paradox of choice.”
Imagine yourself in the supermarket. You head to the cereal aisle and find yourself facing row after row of cereal boxes. How do you choose among so many options? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you grabbed the closest box on impulse or left the store without buying anything?
Research has shown that having too many choices causes people to feel stressed and overwhelmed. This phenomenon applies to every decision, big and small. Whether you’re selecting jam at the supermarket or picking a home, having too many choices leads to choice paralysis and indecision. Buyers experiencing choice overload often make a rash decision out of frustration or walk away empty-handed.
Less is More
Don’t get me wrong. I recommend looking at a healthy number of homes before making a final decision. That doesn’t mean viewing 100 homes is the right way. When you look at too many homes in a short time, it’s easy to get confused and start second-guessing your opinions. Keep your priorities in mind and only look at houses that check all your boxes. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, take a minute to remind yourself what’s important.
How to Make Choosing Less Stressful
You can use several strategies to make your search successful and satisfying from beginning to end. You’ll need to narrow down your choices. Here’s how to do it:
- Spend time researching before becoming a serious buyer. Get educated about your local market regarding price, location, and features. Visit open houses, conduct internet research, and talk to trusted and reliable friends about how they made their homebuying decision. This will help keep your expectations realistic when you become a serious buyer.
- Figure out your needs, wants, and deal-breakers. I can’t overstate the importance of making a thorough and thoughtful list of what you are looking for in a home (and stick to it!). Having a concrete list helps you focus your time and energy on homes you might actually buy.
- Stick to your budget. One of the biggest mistakes buyers make during this stage is looking at homes way outside their price range. Looking at houses you can’t afford increases your doubt and dissatisfaction when looking at homes within your budget.
- Compare apples to apples. It’s not a good idea to directly compare homes in two very different locations— it only leads to “analysis paralysis.” For example, a home in the suburbs will likely be bigger and possibly newer than a similarly priced home in a more urban area. Narrowing down your desired location is an essential first step.
- Don’t worry that you’re missing out. Your agent knows what they’re doing. Part of my job is to help pare down the number of homes your view and keep you focused. I’m always happy to explain why certain homes weren’t on the list to show you— for example, they don’t match your list, are out of your price range, or have something you consider a deal-breaker.
- Avoid becoming an MLS junkie. In today’s market, it’s hard to resist searching the internet ad nauseam for new listings. There’s nothing wrong with keeping an eye out for new listings as long as you keep it in check. You can tell your agent if you’ve seen something that’s a match, but don’t become obsessed or anxious about seeing every new listing. You’ll start second-guessing every home, wondering if something better is just around the corner.
- Learn to embrace “good enough.” I want you to find a home you love. However, no home will have everything on your list and still meet your budget. Accept that your decision to purchase a home may involve a little sacrifice. Making a final choice means you’ll pass up opportunities to look at future listings. However, you don’t want to get stuck looking forever and never move into a home.
If you’re experiencing choice overload, I recommend reading “The Paradox of Choice“ for further insight. Let me know if you have any more questions about choosing a home or any part of the buying process! Next week’s article discusses another hot topic for many first-time buyers. I’ll walk you through how to buy a home, even with student loan debt.
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I'm Lauren Haug! I'm a teacher-turned-real estate agent, and I teach people how to build wealth through real estate in Northern Colorado.
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