The 6 Words You Should Never Say Before House-Hunting

published Sep 3, 2023
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If you’re trying to buy a house, you’ve probably made lots of casual comments during the process. Maybe you’ve mentioned you’ve always wanted a screened-in porch, how much you love mature trees, or that you can’t stand when people don’t park in the garage, for example.

But according to Boston-area real estate agent Dana Bull, there are six words you should never, ever say out loud during the homebuying process: “We are not in a rush.”

“If you tell me this, I can almost guarantee that you will not be making moves,” she posted on Instagram.

Now, Bull is not suggesting that anyone should rush into something as complex and consequential as buying a house. That could result in disaster, such as ending up in a home you hate or with a monthly mortgage payment that’s just not sustainable for your budget. But she is advocating for dedicating as much of your time and energy to the home-search process as possible. 

“I hear ‘We are not in a rush’ all the time from buyers,” she says. “They almost want to protect themselves or protect me from disappointment throughout the home search. It’s something we do to create this buffer, where we don’t want the risk of being disappointed if things don’t go as planned. Or they think it’s what I want to hear. But, really, what I want to hear is, ‘Let’s be aggressive about this, let’s get this done,’ because that’s ultimately what helps get results.”

Credit: Monkey Business Images/

Here’s her thought process: if you say (and act like) you’re not in a rush, that means you’re probably only casually looking at houses. You’re not going to rearrange your meeting schedule to attend a showing or take time out of your busy weekend to put in an offer. There’ll always be another one, you might think, so why bother upending my life for one house?

But in this current market — with a very low number of homes for sale — this approach means you’re probably going to miss out. At the end of the day, you won’t have a house and you’ll be stuck in whatever your current housing situation is.

“Sure, your dream property could come up if you’re willing to be patient, but this is rare and you could be waiting a very, very long time,” she says.

If you fully commit to the process (or “go hard” for a little while, as Bull puts it) you’re more likely to come out the other side successful. You need to bring a sense of urgency to the table if you actually want to buy a house right now, not in some distant, far-off future.

“Because the market is so competitive, you really need to prioritize the home search,” she says. “You really need to make it a top priority.”

The best way to do this is to give yourself a realistic deadline, instead of having a more open-ended timeline. After you get pre-approved for a home loan, you should be able to close on a house within six months to a year, tops.

“I’ve had clients who decided they wanted to buy a house and, one week later, we’re under contract,” she says. “That’s because of how much time they had to prioritize the home search and how quickly they were able to move.”

There are certain specific situations in which keeping a more open timeline may be the way to go, such as if you are looking for an extremely unique property. But even then, you can still be aggressive.

“Let’s go out and canvas the market, let’s identify properties you are interested in purchasing, let’s do a grassroots campaign — let’s reach out to owners and see if anybody’s willing to sell,” she says. “I wouldn’t just sit and wait. There is some level of offense you can play.”