Five Phases of Home Buying

There are five phases to the home-buying process. Having just completed this process I thought I’d share these phases with you. Had I known about these phases in advance, I would have been better prepared for the experience. But in the end it would have made no difference.

Phase 1: Excited!

Anything new has an element of excitement to it. You’ve been living in the same place for ten years, and now you’re going to move to something new. All kinds of good things will come from this move. This is a promise you make to yourself. You’ll quit smoking, start going to gym again, cook instead of eating out. Everything will change with your new house.

Your real estate agent will help generate excitement in this phase. In the “excited” phase, everything is theoretical, so looking at those million-dollar houses will seem practical. You’ll worry about how to pay for it later.

Phase 2: Disillusioned

It turns out that buying a house is not like buying milk at the grocery store, and this is mildly upsetting. You find the perfect house. You can see yourself living in that house. You are mentally arranging the furniture to support your new, healthy lifestyle. You put in the offer.

The offer loses out to 17 other offers, and you learn that yours was the lowest of the batch. No one can actually tell you what the other offers are, for reasons that boggle the imagination, but you ultimately learn that the winning bid was all cash, and no contingencies whatsoever. This is what you are up against.

Now it is difficult to drum up enthusiasm for any house. Why fall in love with a house if you’re certain you’re going to lose it? All of the initial excitement is gone. You wish you hadn’t sold your old house because now you are trapping. You put an offer on two more houses. On the second one, the agents look at your offer and snicker.

Phase 3: Hopeful

Your agent finds a house that is close enough to what you wanted (although still miles from the map of perfection you’ve made in your head). You are desperate, and the house is good enough, so you put in an offer—and it is accepted! Now you are hopeful. All that’s left is the paperwork, and in 45 days, the new house is yours.

Phase 4: Frantic

The lender suddenly needs all kinds of documentation. You have the highest possible credit score, no debt, and some savings, never missed a payment in your life. You provide the papers.

This is followed my more requests for information. Time is ticking. Now it’s a month to closing. Now a week. Just one more clarification need on this PayPal statement. Now two days. Are you going to make it? It’s like a footrace and you are frantic, running flat out just hoping you’ll cross the finish line in time!

Phase 5: Relief

The day before closing you get an email that everything is set. You slide out of the chair and curl up on the carpet. You’ve had at least seven dreams that something has gone wrong. All that’s left is to sign some papers and the new house is yours. Moving will be a breeze compared to this.


The irony is that now that I know what to expect from the process, I’ll never have to go through it again. The information is useless. Nothing will pry me out of this new house. Nothing. Winning ten million dollars in the lottery couldn’t get me to put myself though these roller coaster phases ever again.

If buying groceries was as harrowing as buying a new house, we’d all starve.