Keep your home buying emotions in check
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

You may be asking, "How do I weigh the pros and cons of buying a home and how do I know if I'm ready to be a home owner?" While lots of components enter the picture, my favorite reply is, "You're ready to be a homeowner when you're not only financially but emotionally prepared to handle it!" In fact, the emotional part comes first and is often the overriding factor in choosing which home to buy.

As with many milestones in life (college, marriage, having kids), home buying is initially more of an emotional commitment than it is a financial one. Sure, you're parting with thousands of dollars of savings to fund the down payment; yes you will be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly payments over the years. But the bottom line is that most home buyers purchase first from their emotions, and then justify the purchase with their wallets. Here's an example. You've been looking for a four bedroom, two bath home on a large lot for several weeks. While some houses have been okay, you really haven't found the house yet. It's Sunday afternoon and you just happen to pass by a new condo project that's holding an open house. You walk in, fall in love with it and make a full-price offer on the spot. What happened? Your emotions made the decision for you-pure and simple. The decision was made from your gut, and you justified the purchase with your wallet! Who cares that the condo you chose doesn't remotely resemble what you thought you wanted? Your heart and instincts overruled your brain, and you're glad they did!

The same thing happens when a buyer says "I have to have a formal dining room in my next house." She's not really concerned about a place to put her dining room set and fancy hutch, she's thinking of how great it will feel to have her entire family there for Thanksgiving dinner--how proud she'll feel to see little Johnny sitting in his high chair at the table for his first holiday celebration. Feelings are what home buyers are after.

Our greatest strengths are also our weaknesses. In fact, too much emotion is one of the prime reasons why people pay too much for a home, choose a costly mortgage and fail to maximize home affordability once they do purchase. Strong, overpowering feelings can cause judgments to blur and costs to skyrocket.

One example of costly run away emotions is the couple who purchased an overpriced home because it had pink carpeting in the bedroom. The wife had grown up in a home where her bedroom was draped and carpeted in Pepto-Bismol™ pink. In an effort to relive those pleasant childhood memories and feelings, she and her husband went along with all of the financial requirements the seller mandated, including paying the seller's inflated price. Long after the pink carpeting wore out, the buyers were still paying interest on those runaway emotions. (I know this is true--I was the homebuyer!)

The key to controlling your home buying emotions is to realize that while exciting and necessary to the home buying process, emotions are but one part of the home buying puzzle. They need to be tempered with facts, analysis and evaluation before you make a move. Before you commit with your heart, take time to gather the information you need to make an informed and justified decision about the home you purchase. If you do, you'll have no regrets about the soundness of your investment, even after the emotions have waned.