My partner and I just bought our first house. We love it; its unusual details and weird secrets fit us perfectly. However, we didn’t get the first four we tried for, and we almost didn’t get this one at least 372 times throughout the process.
I found myself on an emotional rollercoaster where I had to constantly prepare myself for a possible “it’s just not going to work.” To make the potential hard blow softer, I started searching for ways to make that situation a learning experience.
This could easily apply to both renting and homeownership, plus many other areas of potential disappointment in life! Use these disappointments to:
1. Clarify what you want
Several of the times we didn’t end up succeeding actually felt like relief, after we’d processed. Some of those homes/condos needed a lot of work to be habitable, and we didn’t have the budget to continue paying for an apartment while working on another place and paying its mortgage. That helped us realize that something on our list was “habitable immediately, with only cosmetic projects.” Furthermore, we learned things like “being near this artist community is more important than we’d thought” and “we would really like a backyard space for the pupsters.”
Focus on the things you really love about the place you’re trying for: can some of those be translated to another place? If you really love the green door frames, could you just paint the door frames in the place that you ultimately end up in? What about the guest house in back — couldn’t you build one or have one built over time? Start a Google doc of these items and add to it as you go along. That way, every minute you spend looking at places will ultimately contribute to your final dwelling space, and it won’t all be a waste of time if you don’t get that one specific property.
2. Practice patience and generosity
So many times it would have been easy to kill the messenger, who was often our very sweet and hardworking agent. I’m not perfect, and I did get snippy a few times, but I feel I grew during the process. I had to know and recognize my own emotional limits and communicate them to my partner and other people. I had to consciously remember how to express my disappointment in a genuine and productive way without snapping or projecting. Sometimes I just had to say, “I’m really upset about this right now and I need the rest of the day to process. Can we talk tomorrow?” I’d then use the rest of the day for the following point.
3. Be creative
Many pieces of a rental agreement or home transaction can fall apart easily, but many of the problems encountered can have creative solutions that your landlord or realtor hadn’t thought of. For instance, if your credit just won’t cut it for a landlord’s rental agreement, could you offer a higher deposit or make a notarized agreement to complete repairs yourself? Or, in our case, some wonky stuff was happening with closing costs, and it turned out we didn’t have enough cash on hand. With no real estate experience whatsoever, I suggested two different ways around this, and our agent loved them; we ended up going with one that helped seal the deal!
Though we ultimately landed this house after two months of agonizing — “yay, we’re getting it!” and “aw man, we’re not getting it” — I have to say we appreciate it much more because of the struggle it took. And the lessons learned along the way were invaluable.