The housing market of 2021-2022 was crazy. Interest rates were at an all-time low, and prices for houses got incredibly high simply through bidding wars. But what about now? It’s nearing the end of 2023 and interest rates have skyrocketed. So housing prices have probably dropped significantly, right? Wrong. This is still a seller’s market, with very little inventory and housing prices still at an all-time high. With these facts in mind, what is a buyer to do? How does one survive house-hunting in a crazy market?
Keep your sanity
I’ve written before about the market hindering our family’s plans. Unfortunately, that has led to us still being without a home when our time at our rental ends. Fortunately, our landlord extended our time by a month. But as we are now nearing the end of October, we have little time left to close on a new house. We’ve made offers which sellers did not accept. The competition is still pretty difficult, and inventory is even lower than it had been before. So how have I stayed relatively sane in this crazy time? I’ll give you four tips I’ve developed in order to keep my sanity and look with hope toward the unknowns looming ahead.
1. Don’t settle
Most people feel the heat of a deadline, or are burnt out from the search, and they give up. This ensures settling on something they don’t necessarily want or need. When you focus solely on the end-goal of buying a house, anxiety can kick in and cause you to make the wrong decisions. It can be a decision that negatively impacts your finances or your family life, or myriad other things that change your life in a negative way. Don’t settle for just anything.
Do keep in mind your bare minimum needs, and make decisions based on that, if you have to. But if you have some wants, too, make those somewhat of a priority. But be willing to let go of at least a few if keeping them would have no real impact on your quality of life. Even in our situation, where we are forced to move and also have a deadline, we won’t settle on just anything. If we need to, we will rent again until the market settles some. It’s not the ideal situation, but in our minds it’s better than settling on something we know would be detrimental to our family life. Buying a house is an investment, both in your family and of your money, and should be done wisely.
2. Don’t let others tell you what to do if you want to survive house-hunting in a crazy market
Everyone has an opinion. Well-meaning people will offer you their thoughts on what they would do or think you should do, but when it comes down to it, the only thing that matters is you and your family—what you need and want. Only you can decide what to do, and you have to do what’s best for your family.
Even realtors might overstep and start to give you their personal opinions, but again, they don’t know what you need. Sometimes, the overload of input is too much, whether it’s positive or negative. If you find yourself being subjected to unsolicited opinions, advice, or even just random thoughts, take a step back. Set boundaries. It might mean telling your realtor to stick to professional advice only, or a well-meaning family member or friend that you need some space. Don’t let others tell you what to do, or it will definitely hinder your ability to survive house hunting in a crazy market.
3. Have a backup plan
Renting is an option when it comes to a backup if you have a deadline, or can’t find what you need. In most areas, renting will save you a little bit in your monthly payments, and you won’t have closing costs. It can also possibly afford you some time to build up a little more savings. Alternatively, maybe you have family or friends willing to take you in for a short time while you continue your search, if you find yourself without a place to go. Having a backup plan in place will help keep your stress levels down. It frees you to feel less burdened by the anxiety of a deadline or lack of inventory, and helps you to focus on what matters most: finding the right house for your family.
4. Keep the faith to survive house-hunting in a crazy market
Our family’s faith has been tested much, specifically in this journey over the past two years. It has been a difficult path, but it has also been very humbling. Realizing that surrendering to the will of God should be the foundation of all life-happenings, you find that the outcome of whatever you’re facing matters very little. If a seller doesn’t accept your offer, it’s simply not where God wants you to be. If you haven’t been able to find something that fits your family’s needs, He hasn’t yet revealed it to you. God is not bound by time. Our human deadlines for things are actually unimportant to the bigger picture. You do what you can, and leave the rest to Him. He won’t leave you without a home. Keep the faith that He will provide, even when it looks like nothing is on the horizon.
Following these four tips will help you through one of the craziest times of the real estate market, and in your life. Buying a home is always a stressful time but if you keep your focus on the right things (keep your faith, set boundaries, make your own decisions and don’t settle on just anything), you’re sure to survive house-hunting in a crazy market.