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.
Guess what? It’s a proven fact that having too many choices only increases your chances of making the wrong choice!
One of my favourite books on this topic is “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz. I often discuss the premise of this book with clients or friends who are having a hard time making a decision. In fact, you can apply the principles of this book to any area of your life. Today though, we’ll be looking at it in the context of the home-buying process.
Research has shown that having too many choices can create stress. Have you ever stared at a supermarket shelf full of jams and jellies with an overwhelming choice of brands and flavours and simply walked away empty-handed? Or have you stared at the piles of jean styles and colours on a shop floor and thought, I wish someone would just tell me what will look good and then kept on walking? I notice this phenomenon personally most when I am online shopping. I fill virtual shopping carts with products I like and then eventually abandon them because I can’t wittle my choices down to an affordable level.
Individuals can become so confused by too many choices that they reach a point where they feel paralyzed with indecision. And it has a further effect. Buyers presented with too many choices are more likely to feel regret or dissatisfaction once a decision is made. Many can never get past the thought that one of the other choices might have been better.
Why More Is Actually Less
Presented with too many options, doing nothing becomes the default choice. We walk out of a store empty-handed or decide to delay a purchase till “another time.”
When it comes to house hunting, you of course want to have some options to compare between. But the idea that the more you view, the better off you will be is a recipe for a failed home search. Too many choices can cause confusion, second-guessing, and just being overwhelmed.
Make Choosing Less Stressful
There are several strategies to help make your search successful and satisfying from beginning to end. It’s a matter of consistently working to narrow down your list and getting closer to “the one”.
Here’s what I suggest:
Spend time “researching” BEFORE you’re a serious buyer. Educate yourself about the local market in terms of price, location and features. Use every available in-person and online resource like open houses, the MLS, and conversations with reliable friends about how they made their home-buying decision. Do your best to not to feel rushed or stressed, but set yourself a deadline.
Figure out what which of your list of criteria are needs vs. wants. Identify deal breakers. Focus your time and energy on what matters to you. I recommend starting with lifestyle factors and moving out from there.
Stay within your budget and price range. You will increase your doubt, confusion, and dissatisfaction if you start to see homes outside your price range—lower or higher.
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”! To avoid this, narrow down your location parameters as a first step.
Enough choice does not equal a lot of choice. Too many choices can be daunting, so I like to aim for “enough” choice. This way you’ll be confident in your decision and satisfied that you’re not shortchanging yourself.
Keep eliminating homes and move on. When you view a home, it’s either a “yes” or “no” and then move on to the next. Eliminate as you go so you can keep your selection to two to three homes (just like HGTV’s “House Hunters”). Don’t “keep it in the running” ! You’ll end up with too many “maybe’s” to whittle down. Another way to look at it is to ask yourself which home you like better—the one you are in right now or the ones you just saw. Then pick your favourite of the day.
Avoid fear of missing out. Your agent is your guide and coach, helping to pare down the number of homes to view and to keep you focused. They are trained to listen to your needs and wants and help get you there.
Don’t become an MLS junkie. It’s hard in today’s market to not constantly search the internet for new listings. Let your agent know if you’ve seen something that’s a match but don’t become obsessed or anxious about every new listing or keep second-guessing yourself.
Learn to embrace “good enough.” I do want you to find a home you LOVE. However, it is almost impossible for a home to have everything on your list. Accept that your decision may come with some small sacrifice. 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 otherwise. No one wants that.
Let me know if you have any questions about the above. If you have a hard time making decisions, I definitely recommend reading “The Paradox of Choice” for deeper insight. And as always, I’m here to be your decision coach when you are ready.
I'm Liisa and I love helping people moving to Ottawa make their home purchase and transition smooth and seamless. I also love helping sellers get the most for their Ottawa home. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true.
613-898-1184 (call or text)