Many of my fellow real estate brokers and I have clients who have been house hunting, it seems, since time eternal. OK — well, since last summer. These hardy homebuyers have experienced competing with 30 other offers over the summer months, maybe got into and out of a contract or so when an inspection or appraisal went south during the fall, and have had their eye on the emaciated inventory throughout the holiday season.
Sellers have experienced the same exact thing, from the other side. While the best-priced, best-dressed homes in the best neighborhoods (and super-cheap homes everywhere) are now flying off the market, the middle of the market seems much more stagnant — especially if you happen to be a home seller whose home has been on the market for more than a couple of months.
So, here we are. Stuck, it seems. All flailing about for ways we can bring these house hunts to a close, for the sake of what remains of both our sanity and our (or our home’s prospective buyers’) eligibility for the homebuyer’s credit. Taking a deep breath and powering through it — which is a tried-and-true strategy for getting unstuck in so many other areas of our lives — just doesn’t work for homebuying.
There are just too many other people involved who are entirely out of your control — not the least of which are the seller, listing agent, appraiser, underwriter and even other competing bidder/buyers.
The things we can’t control are so many that it brings to mind the first line of the serenity prayer: "… grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." And there’s the rub: So many of the strategies resulting from our brainstorming on buying are subject to unilateral veto from someone we don’t know that it can be very frustrating to do anything but resign ourselves to repeat the cycle of frustration and rely on luck.
But, besides praying to your deity of choice (not an ineffective strategy, in my experience), what else can you do to give a jump-restart to your stalled-out house hunt, while maintaining a Zen sense of calm (or at least not strangling anyone)?
Inspired by Charlotte Kasl’s "If the Buddha Got Stuck," one of my favorite books for getting unstuck from anything, whether it be a column or a lifelong endeavor, here are my five tips for unsticking your home purchase or sale:
1. Extract the lessons from past glitches, snags and failures. I call this tuition — time or money you’ve already spent to learn a lesson. Don’t let all the tuition you’ve already paid be in vain. It will be, unless you scrape the bad experiences you’ve had in the past to get all the lessons out of the corners, and apply them in the form of a revised strategy going forward. …CONTINUED