How to Tell if You’re Not Ready to Buy a House

not ready to buy a house

While few agents are in the business of talking people out of buying a house, some buyers are not ready to buy a house. Oh, a buyer might think she is ready but down deep she is not. For starters, if you do not have a preapproval letter, you might not be ready to buy a house. This is assuming, of course, you are obtaining financing and not paying cash. Or, perhaps your benefactor is buying the house on your behalf, in which case, no preapproval required.

Another way to tell that you are not ready to buy a house is if you find major flaws in every house you look at with your agent. Enough serious drawbacks to know that none of the houses you viewed for the past couple of weeks fit what you desire. In that event, you should reassess with your agent your priorities. Are you looking for a unicorn house? That could be a sign that you need to design and build your own house.

Few houses are perfect, except, of course, the home you build yourself. Most buyers make concessions because they know they will not find everything on their list. If you want to buy a house with a view, for example, you might need to give up another requirement to get that view. Or be willing to make upgrades to outfit the house the way you want it.

Some buyers cannot find anything to buy in their price range or they harbor unrealistic expectations about what they can get for their money. They might spot a short sale, for example, that is severely underpriced because the listing agent is an idiot. Then, they take that particular listing and fixate on it, hoping to find another priced the same way. Which they won’t because that listing is not a “real” listing.

Another way to know a buyer is not ready to buy a house is the cold feet syndrome. Especially after going into contract to buy a house. Some buyers develop cold feet within a few days. Other buyers can make it all the way to loan docs before they freak out. If you have misgivings or an inner voice pulling you in another direction, you might not be ready to buy a house.

Just last month I encountered an odd situation. I sold a bungalow near downtown Sacramento to four different sets of buyers. Each went into contract and each group canceled without provocation. That poor seller. I felt a lot of empathy for him. Because there was no explanation. Other than the fact we can’t pick our buyers, that’s the buyer’s agent’s job, and somehow every single one of those buyer’s agents also failed.

Most committed home buyers who are ready are very excited. They are jazzed and ready to go. It is not unusual to fall in love with house after house and have a hard time deciding between a handful of homes because they are all so gorgeous. So many of those homes fit the bill of wants and needs. There is anticipation that the next house will be “the one.” Buyers who are ready can’t stop talking about their purchase.

If you feel so-so about it and are not consumed by a passionate driving force to settle down in your own house, you might not be ready to buy a house. That’s OK, too. Your Realtor is your advocate.

Elizabeth Weintraub


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