Here’s What To Do If You Simply Cannot Look at Another House for Sale

published Feb 27, 2023
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Even when the process goes totally smoothly from start to finish, buying a house requires a lot of mental and emotional energy. Over the last three years, this already exhausting process has somehow gotten even more draining. Prospective homebuyers have grappled with everything from housing shortages to layoffs to bidding wars to high interest rates — and nearly every other type of wrench imaginable.

So, if the process of searching for a home has you feeling stressed, disheartened, frustrated, and, possibly, a little sad, you’re not alone. Homebuying fatigue is very real.

Now what? If you’re still in the game, hunting for the perfect starter home or fixer-upper, how do you move forward when you’re just… utterly burned out on everything? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, but real estate experts have a few ideas for where to start and what steps to take. Here’s what they have to say.

First, talk to your team.

Your real estate agent, your lender, your co-buyer, your home inspector, and everyone else involved in the homebuying process is right there with you, rooting for you to succeed. Don’t try to mask your burnout by putting on a happy face when, in reality, you’re actually totally overwhelmed and upset.

These folks likely have years — maybe even decades — of experience, so they can offer some helpful context around how you’re feeling. Plus, venting can be cathartic. 

“Talk with the professional assisting in the process,” says Kristina ODonnell, a real estate broker in Pennsylvania. “Although they cannot change the market or the situation, they can help with the frustrated feelings, put things into perspective, and help strategize.”

Take a break if you need one.

Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed about temporarily bowing out of the home search. Though you may miss out on a few houses, that’s OK — and your real estate agent can always keep his or her eyes peeled for that truly “needle-in-a-haystack special house” for you, says real estate agent Steven Gottlieb.

“It’s OK to take a break from house hunting, especially if you’ve lost a few bidding wars, for example,” he says. “Taking a break to lick your wounds and recharge is natural and acceptable.”

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Set realistic expectations.

The old adage “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” applies to real estate situations, too. If you have visions of waltzing through the front door of a home that’s newly renovated in your exact style, under budget, in the perfect neighborhood, with no issues, then you may want to adjust your expectations to more closely match reality.

“No job is perfect, no spouse is perfect, and no house is perfect,” says Gottlieb. ”This is something that all homebuyers at every price point need to wrap their heads around before they start their search. You’re in great shape if you get most of what you want on your wishlist.” 

One easy way to check your expectations? Ask your real estate agent to play devil’s advocate.

“Ask your agent what you’re missing if you don’t like a house,” says Gottlieb. “What’s great about this property that you’re not understanding? And then, conversely, if you fall in love with a potential new home, ask your agent to point out the negatives and drawbacks. Knowing these issues, if you still love it, it’s likely that you’ve found the right home.”

On a related note, make sure you have realistic expectations for the homebuying timeline, too. In general, buying a home is more like a marathon than a sprint, says ODonnell. If you know the process may take a while, then you’ll be less disappointed when you don’t end up with a house overnight.

“Remember that sometimes it takes us longer to reach a goal than we would like,” says ODonnell.

When you’re ready, get back out there again.

It’s OK to shed more than a few tears when you lose out on yet another home or an inspection report comes back with a laundry list of expensive fixes the seller won’t cover, says Janen Ardia, a real estate broker in New Jersey. However, once you’re feeling a little more refreshed and recharged, don’t be afraid to resume your search. 

“As my mother would say when we were young, ‘Pick yourself up by the bootstraps, take what you have learned, and get back out there,’” she says. “The time will be right before you know it.”

As an added bonus, when you return to the search, there will likely be a new crop of inventory you haven’t seen yet. And you’ll be a little wiser because of your past experiences.

“This can feel encouraging again,” says Gottlieb. “You know what you’re getting into and how to navigate the process better than your first time out.”

Tweak your search.

When you do decide to resume the hunt, consider broadening your search, recommends real estate broker Maria E. Daou. This may open up new opportunities you were previously closed off to and help you finally get into a home.

“Changing your search parameters, even a bit, can make it feel fresh,” she says. “Expand your search area even just a few blocks. Expand your price range a bit.”