Buying a Home is Like Finding a Soulmate

House-hunting and spouse-hunting are more similar than you might think…

The process is fraught with uncertainty, doubt and emotional upheaval. It is a journey filled with emotional minefields that can force even the most centered person to question who they are and what they want in life. It can ignite your hopes and enthusiasm — and shatter your confidence — all in one day. It forces you to put your heart on the line and bare your soul, and exposes you to the risk of rejection. You look around and see other people who have successfully navigated the journey and wonder how they did it. Did they have more money or better credentials? Were they less discriminating and more open-minded? Were they more decisive? Or were they just lucky?

If you have been through the process of buying a home, you likely have experienced the sentiments above. And if you’re single, like I am, you know that this is also an accurate description of the dating process.

The big difference, of course, is that your decision about what home to purchase is not a lifetime decision. You will stick with that decision for an average of 5-7 years. Your decision about whom to marry will — hopefully — last a lifetime. Putting that aside, the two journeys are more alike than you might think.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here are 7 truths about the search for love and the search for real estate.

1. What you see online is not real. 

It can be fun and convenient to search from the comfort of your home, but the information presented online often raises our hopes with the promise of something that does not actually exist in real life. Nobody uploads a bad photograph. Online, people are younger and thinner, and apartments are larger. Every description or profile is ad copy. The only way to really know if a home or person is the right match for you is the old-fashioned way: face to face.

2. Quality inventory is limited.

On the surface, it may seem like there are a lot of options, but a closer examination reveals that quality inventory is limited. Sometimes you have to sift through a lot of coal to find the diamonds.

3. You may need to compromise, but you must never settle.

Especially in New York City, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if only you had more money or better credentials, you could get everything you want. The truth is that even buyers with unlimited budgets compromise on something. The same is true in dating. The key to moving forward is to know what you value most, and refuse to settle on what’s really important.

4. “Perfect on Paper” doesn’t always mean “Works in Real Life.”

Sometimes, everything lines up on paper. The apartment seems to meet every criteria on my client’s wish list. The guy (or girl) sounds perfect. You schedule an in-person visit with your hopes high, only to discover that this is not what you wanted.

5. You’ll probably fall in love with something that is the opposite of what you’re looking for.

This is the corollary to #4, above. How many times have you heard about people who fell in love with a person or home that — on the surface — did not meet any of their criteria? I see it happen all the time with my clients, and it proves that the only way to know if something is really a match is to experience it in person.

6. You must be approved.

Even when both parties are committed, a lot of other people need to weigh in and approve the “deal” before it can move forward. New Yorkers love to complain about the rigors of the co-op and condo process. The application and interview to purchase in a building is invasive: the process puts your entire life — employment history, finances and social status — under a microscope. At least co-op and condo boards tell you what information they want. That’s more transparency than you receive from the friends and family of your soulmate, who will judge you on whatever criteria they decide is relevant.

7. You can’t control the timing.

There is no set amount of time that must pass between when you start looking and when you find your home or mate. It can happen on the first day or your search, or when you’re not even looking. Sometimes, we dismiss an option only to discover later that it was really what we wanted; we simply did not know it at the time or we weren’t yet ready for it.

And a bonus:

The ultimate decision about whether to move forward must be made from your heart.

Throw away your pro/con lists and your spreadsheets, and listen to your heart. It will steer you to the best investment every time.

What other similarities have you found between dating and real estate?

Written by Renee Fishman

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