If you’ll ask me “why is buying a house so stressful?” Well, before I answer that, recently my doctor advised me to avoid stress. I think that’s a standard line from doctors, even for people like me with no health issues. Nevertheless, I laughed and told her that would be difficult because I’m in escrow. She said that was good stress. From where I sit, it doesn’t feel good. I think I’m more stressed now than I’ve been at any other point in this six-month journey. Here are the five most stressful parts of buying a home, at least from my perspective.
Looking for the Right Home
In a normal market, this might be easy. In this market, looking at endless homes to find the right house is very stressful. You visit house after house until they all blend together. When we were just looking at open houses, it was pretty easy, although the homes we saw when we didn’t have an agent looked nothing like the homes we saw when we did!
Making Your First Offer
Actually, deciding whether to make an offer is pretty stressful, too. We considered making offers on two houses before finally finding the right one. We were exhilarated, but then the stress set in as we waited for an answer. The offer on the next home was easier, but not completely smooth as we waited to find out if the bank had stopped the foreclosure sale after receiving our offer. By the time I got to the third offer, I felt fine. I was excited about the house, but blasé about the process until the day we realized we would probably get this one. That’s when I called my parents to ask them to visit us to check out the house and offer their second opinion.
This used to be an easy step, but now it’s pretty stressful. It took 8 days to get our appraisal back and we sweated it the whole time. It was possible that the home would appraise low, although we certainly wouldn’t have offered what we did if we didn’t think it would appraise. Still, you never know what will happen under the new system. I practically did cartwheels when the appraisal came in at our purchase price.
Once the appraisal is in, the loan goes to underwriting and here comes more stress. We were pre-approved by an experienced loan officer, so he was confident we would be approved, but it’s still stressful. Here’s a tip: once you start the home-shopping process, don’t do anything that affects your credit. No major purchases, no new loans or credit cards. You can, of course, pay off debt if you have extra money after your down-payment and closing costs and reserves are met, but don’t take on new debt. Don’t close any accounts. We also stopped transferring money from our checking to our savings once we went into escrow in order to avoid any questions.
I nearly did a back-flip when our loan was approved, except for the rent verification which still needed to be met. I knew we’d get it and be fine, but it was very stressful while we waited for the bank and the landlord to communicate. I finally went down there and took care of it myself.
We’re not there yet, but this is also stressful. Once you get everything to the lender and the loan is approved, you’re at the mercy of other people getting everything done on time. Escrow has to prepare the HUD-1 form and get it to the lender. If there are corrections to be made, they have to do that quickly. Once the form is done, your lender orders the loan documents. They have to be delivered to escrow, which arranges for you to sign them. Then after you sign them, they have to go back through underwriting.
Your loan could be rejected at this point – which happened to friends of mine when an appraisal issue arose at the last second. They got it ironed out, but it was stressful. Then you wait for the loan to be funded and the deed to record and then finally you get the keys. So even as you sit on third base and the batter hits it into the stands, you might not make it to home plate. That’s stressful! If you’re at this point, don’t make any changes to your credit because it could cause your loan to be rejected. Wait until you have the keys to buy your appliances.
I’m not expecting anything to go wrong with our loan. Everything seems to be in order and our loan officer is very careful about making sure he has everything he needs. However, I’m not yet ready to say I bought a house. I won’t do that until those keys are in my hand. Until then, I’ll do my best to get a good night’s sleep and not take to the bottle.