Analysis Paralysis and Buying Your First Home

Buying Homes in Colorado

More of Libby’s Secrets for buying on the Front Range

As a buyer do you find yourself “wanting to see everything” in your price range or “needing to look at just one more house or condo”?

You may truly believe that having a wide selection of homes to choose from is the only way to find one you love, especially when you’re buying your first home.

Guess what? It’s a proven fact that having too many choices only increases your chance of making the wrong choice!

Choice Overload

Research has shown that having too many choices from selecting jam to picking a home – can overwhelm you with stress. You can become paralyzed with indecision, and may feel regret or dissatisfaction once a decision is made. Many can’t get past the thought that one of the other choices would have been better.

Has that ever been you? … Because by “buyers” I mean ME…my husband and I were trapped in this paralysis for over a year!

You see this “choice overwhelm” everywhere. An entire aisle of cereal is the norm now. At one time shopping for jeans meant Levi’s and Lee’s, and that was pretty much it. How long does it take you to find that perfect pair now?

What about your wedding dress or suit? This was one time I was not overwhelmed by the options. I knew what I wanted, and loved very first dress I tried on. It was simple, cotton, and $105. I agreed to shop for a whole day afterwards with my mom because she really loves that kind of thing and thought she could change my mind…but I went back the next day to store one, dress one, and bought it!

When there are so many options to choose from, it’s easy to end up in a situation where doing nothing becomes the easiest option. We’ve all walked out of a store empty handed or decided to delay making a purchase until “another time.” When you’re buying your first home, you have already decided “no action” is not what you want to do, so don’t overwhelm yourself!

When you’re buying your first home, more is less

There are several strategies to make your search successful and satisfying from beginning to end. This means you’ll need to learn how to narrow down your choices.

Sometimes the market itself will limit your choices, but you’ll still need to make a decision at some point. Here’s how to do it:

  • Spend time “researching” BEFORE you’re a serious buyer. Get educated about your local market in terms of price, location and features. Visit open houses, go online, and talk to trusted and reliable friends about how they made their home-buying decision. This way your expectations are realistic and you’ll be more confident when you do become a serious buyer. Do your best to keep this time productive and perhaps even with a deadline, but don’t feel rushed or stressed. That way you can move on to becoming a ready buyer, or you’ll still be “looking” two years down the road.
  • Figure out your needs, wants, and even your deal breakers. I say this over and over again but it’s SO important to make a well-thought-out list and stick to it. Focus your time and energy on what matters to you. I recommend starting with what lifestyle you want to live and making your list from there.
  • Stick with your budget and price range. You’ll increase your doubt, confusion, and dissatisfaction if you start to see homes outside your price range. You’re just adding more choices (and not good ones for you!). You should have already done your research so this action is an unnecessary waste of energy and time once you’re serious about buying your first home.
  • Compare apples to apples. It’s not a good idea to compare homes that are in two very different locations – it will only lead to “analysis paralysis”! For example, a home in the suburbs is most likely going to be bigger and possible newer than a similar priced home in the most desirable location in a more urban area.

To avoid this happening, you first need to narrow your location by deciding what lifestyle you want. However, if you decide to be open to other locations, compare similar homes within the specific location.

  • Remember having “enough choices” doesn’t mean a large number. Too many choices can be daunting, so you want to aim for “enough” choices. This way you’ll be confident in your decision and satisfied that you’re not shortchanging yourself with too few choices. Work with me so that you view “enough” homes that meet your list’s criteria.
  • Keep eliminating homes and move on. When you view a home, it’s either a “yes” or “no” and then on to the next one. Eliminate as you go along so you can keep your selection to two to three homes. Don’t “keep it in the running” just in case! You’ll end up with too many “maybes” to whittle down. Another strategy is to ask yourself what home you like better—the one you are in right now or the ones you just saw. Then pick your favorite of the day.
  • Don’t worry you’re missing out. I am here to help pare down the number of homes to view and keep you focused. I will explain why certain homes weren’t on the list to show you – i.e. they don’t match your list, are out of your price range, or have something that you consider a deal breaker.
  • Avoid becoming an MLS junkie. It’s hard in today’s market to not search the internet to see what’s been newly listed. Just remember to keep it in check and limit the time you spend trying to catch every new listing. You can tell your agent if you’ve seen something that’s a match but don’t become obsessed or anxious about every new listing and second-guess too much.
  • Learn to embrace “good enough.” I do want you to find a home you love. However, no home is going to have everything on your list and still meet your budget. Accept that your decision on a home may come with some sacrifice of a want on your list. Making a choice does mean you’ll be passing up opportunities to look at future listings, but you’ll be stuck “looking forever” and never move into a home. You wouldn’t be here if that’s what you wanted!

Questions? Contact me!

Hi, there!

I'm Libby Earthman. I specialize in helping first-time buyers and sellers on Colorado’s northern Front Range. I want you to know HOW to make well-reasoned real estate decisions, and I assertively protect your interests during the transaction. 

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402 Main Street
Longmont, CO 80501

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