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“If” Buyers Can Keep Their Heads…

In the midst of uncertain times, watch out for what you react to, if you’re serious about buying a home.

This is an especially important caution if you are a first-time or a first-time-in-a-long-time home buyer. We live in a “quicksand” time of shifting realities and emerging uncertainties. The pandemic overlay adds an unsettling craziness about environmental, political, financial, and personal crises.

First-time buyers are nervous enough about spending all their savings and becoming deeply in debt for decades. Add pandemic angst, inflation fervor, supply-chain shortages, holiday hype, and even the most confident home buyer may feel they are on shaky ground.

Buyers can work themselves into a frenzy of insecurity and self-doubt as they frantically search for THE ANSWER or for that perfect list of “10 Things Home Buyers Must Do.” Too often, they learn nothing new.

Stop and think.

What new advice are you searching for? Haven’t you had advice from everyone—from parents and friends to social-media followers, from streaming series and endless Google searches to your real estate professional to…?

That may be the problem, or at least part of it…

Feeling inundated with “do this” and “don’t do this” advice rehashed on all platforms, all screens, all the time? Real estate snippets and factoids pop-up everywhere these days. Compulsive searching and analysis paralysis set in and decisions become overwhelming! At the same time, as a group, Millennial home buyers are taking the rap for eating up real estate inventory and driving up real estate prices.

It’s time for action, not indecision!

Something familiar came to mind when I considered today’s often-besieged first-time home buyers:

“If you can keep your head when all about you   

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men [sic] doubt you…”

Thought-provoking words that I had not thought about for a while, but words that fit today. Not my words, but those of Nobel-prize-winning British writer Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, who wrote those words in 1895 in his poem “If.”

A lot has changed since 1895—and since last week, for that matter—but Kipling captured the essence of self-discipline and determination that transcends time. That’s the mindset that buyers most benefit from during the process of making a real estate commitment.

Where do your words of encouragement and decisiveness come from?

In the poem If, Kipling speaks to a young boy explaining the attributes that will make him “a Man, my son.” We know now that self-discipline, maturity, resolve, and all that go with them are not gender dependent. It’s not my intent here to slide into poetry analysis or a discussion of the many topics that arise out of this thought-provoking poem.

My point: Not feeling absolutely 100% sure when faced with a new experience, a new decision frontier, is natural and normal—especially when you’re spending more money than you have and arranging a mortgage which lasts decades.

More sure than unsure may be your starting place. Certainty will come when you and your real estate professional find the specific property that fits.

The If stanzas presented here may help you wade through the sea of “Buyer Advice.”

Review what you have learned so far. Slow-down and think. Focus on exactly what you want to accomplish and dive in. What have you investigated in detail? What do you expect to do and react to during your property search, each viewing, offer preparation, and negotiation?

Open the lines of communication with your real estate professional, who has been through all of this hundreds of times. Share your fears and concerns. Clarify your goals.

“If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same…”   

The last two lines are posted over the player’s entrance at Centre Court Wimbledon in England: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…”

Haven’t we watched Wimbledon Tennis Star Serena Williams repeatedly do just that?

“If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   

And—which is more—you’ll be…”

 … a successful real estate buyer!

Yes, home buying may be tough in these tough times. The search may be exhausting, even when everything goes perfectly from the first minute to the last, which it rarely does.

The If poem inspires what Victorians called stoicism or the British “stiff upper lip” attitude. We are moving away from that approach in many aspects of society and our lives, but in home buying it can come in handy.